The first thing to mention is that the State of Israel does have a procedure for foreigners to wish to apply for Israeli work permits. There are the official regulations, and there are the ways these rules are implemented in reality. For those that understand Hebrew or have access to someone who does, here is a link to the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labor website which defines the process: http://www.moital.gov.il/NR/exeres/43627A3A-8313-49FD-BFE5-ECE3EFA7289D.htm. And just to make sure we are all using the same definition, a foreigner in this case is someone that is not an Israeli citizen.
Reading and understanding the rules is important, but sometimes the critical points are difficult to grasp (or even unwritten). Therefore, I will present here what I have learned from my recent research, including from the responses I received of those that had made foreign worker applications of the Israeli Ministry of Interior. The details here are as accurate and complete as I have been able to ascertain, but note that I have not succeeded in getting an official response from the government ministry, and decisions are exclusively in their jurisdiction, so you should consider this article only as an informal guide.
There are two (2) types of Israeli work permits that a foreigner can receive from the Ministry of Interior:
- An open (B1) work permit, allowing a person to work without restrictions, other than a one-year (renewable) time limit
- A restricted work permit, initiated by a sponsoring Israeli employer, limiting employment to the specific company
- A person that is eligible for aliyah (immigration) under the law of return; essentially, this means a person that is Jewish. For those that are eligible for aliyah, there is also another option that includes a work permit without becoming an Israel citizen; details are on the Nefesh B’Nefesh website: http://www.nbn.co.il/site/kb/questions/141/Temporary+Resident+(A-1)+Visa.
- A person that has a long-term, stable/serious relationship with an Israeli citizen. In order to avoid fraudulent use of this option, the process is arduous, but those that meet the criteria can receive permits.
The restricted work permit is the mechanism used by companies that want to recruit foreign employees with a special skill. The employer must pay a fee to sponsor such an applicant, and must guarantee compensation of at least twice the Israel average salary. In practice, this is typically used by an international company operating in Israel to bring in employees from headquarters, of in other cases where an Israeli employer requires a highly specialized professional who can not be found in Israel.
In the case of both types of permits, there is no guarantee for success in receiving the work permit, even if you as the applicant believe that you meet all of the requirements. In general, dealing with government offices, whether in Israel or anywhere is, is fraught with uncertainties, and applying for a work permit is no exception.