Israel”s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has appointed a special commission, consisting of high-ranking officials from the Ministry of the Economy and Industry and the Ministry of the Interior, which will be tasked with attracting foreign technology specialists to Israel.
The technology sector accounts for 12% of Israel”s GDP, but the country is experiencing a significant shortage of skilled workers in this industry. The initiative will be introduced to address this issue as it has been estimated that around 10,000 workers are required to fill positions across the rapidly expanding industry, to prevent this growth from stagnating.
Whilst traditionally Israel is considered a particularly difficult country for a foreign national to obtain work authorisation, the commission has proposed the following changes that are designed to relax the existing rules and therefore expedite and simplify the process for foreigners in the technology industry.
A “specialist visa” has been proposed for foreign high-tech specialists. This visa will be valid for an initial period of two years, which can then be extended for up to three years. Alongside this will run a “derivative visa”, which will allow spouses and children of the foreign worker to work in Israel without the need for a separate sponsor. These visas can be applied for through a new streamlined application process.
As well as proposing to introduce these new visas, in an effort to entice more foreign workers to Israel, it has been proposed that the minimum salary for foreign tech workers will be set at twice the local average.
It is also proposed that all immigration quotas and country restrictions be eliminated for foreign tech workers. In addition, the government will devise a database of 1,500 technology companies that will benefit from priority processing of foreign employee”s work and residence authorisation applications.
Although these changes are still at the proposal stage, and have not been officially announced, the Prime Minister”s Cabinet is supportive and enthusiastic about the commission”s suggestions, which implies that it is likely that the initiative will progress to become law.
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