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Kan-Tor & Acco
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Global Corporate Immigration Law Firm
Global Corporate Immigration Law Firm

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Client Alert (Israel): Renewal of 30 Day Work Authorization (SEA) Program

After suspension of the program in late December 2014, the working permit unit and the Ministry of Interior (hereinafter "MOI") have announced the renewal of the program to apply for 30 day work authorization (SEA), effective today. Temporary trial period regulations for the program have been published and will remain valid until 30/06/2015. The program will enable urgent travel to Israel or for a short, planned assignment for up to 30 days.

The application for the SEA work permit will include personal documentation, travel information, company affidavit, Power of Attorney (both authenticated in certain circumstances), as well as other documentation from both the assignee and the company, as required by the working permit unit and the MOI. Governments fees of will apply, calculated by the length of the assignment.

Processing time of SEA applications is a few working days from submission. Upon approval, a working permit will be provided that will permit immediate travel to and work in Israel (without the need to visit an Israeli consulate). Within 2 working days of entry to Israel, assignees will have to apply for a B-1 working visa at the MOI. Multiple entry permits are an available option within the permitted period. 

The program permits work activities in Israel for up to 30 days total in a 12 months period. A separate application must be submitted prior to each entry.

The SEA visa applies only to nationals of countries that are part of the visitor visa waiver program. Nationals of India, China and Turkey, among others, who are required to obtain visitor visas at the Israeli consulate prior to entry, cannot apply for work authorization under the SEA program.

The content herein is provided for informational purposes only.
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Client Alert (Israel): Slowdown (Partial Strike) at the Border Control in Israel

Israel’s border control employees have partially suspended operations due to a strike of the Ministry of Interior’s employees that took effect this afternoon, January 13th. During the suspension, there will be long lines of hundreds of travelers arriving to or departing from Israel.

At this time, it is not yet clear when the strike will end. Foreign nationals should anticipate extended processing delays upon entry to and departure from Ben Gurion Airport. 

Prevailing Wage for 2015 

The updated monthly prevailing wage of Foreign Experts in Israel increased to 18,246 NIS gross for the year 2015. During 2014, the monthly prevailing wage was 18,000 NIS. Employers must ensure that foreign employees in Israel are earning at least the prevailing wage per month. 

The content herein is provided for informational purposes only.
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Client Alert (Israel): Renouncement of Citizenship

According to official statistics published by Ynet, the percentage of Israeli citizens giving up their passports rose by 65 percent during 2014. In the past year, 765 citizens submitted such documents while in 2013 the figure stood at 478, according to data collected by the Administration of Border Crossings, Population, and Immigration and Israeli embassies abroad.

Among the common reasons for the citizen renouncements are the wish not to hold dual citizenship, applying for a different citizenship (which requires renouncing the other existent citizenship), evading Israeli taxation, evading army duty, travelling & doing business with countries not having diplomatic relations with Israel, the need to enter and depart from Israel using Israeli travel documents and more. 

As Israeli citizenship is imposed automatically to almost any person who was born to an Israeli parent, some foreign nationals found they were Israeli at a later stage of their life, and asked to revoke this nationality.

The process of renouncing Israeli citizenship is intended for an Israeli citizen permanently living abroad who wishes to renounce his Israeli citizenship for any reason. This is implemented by giving a declaration of the desire to renounce the citizenship, along with relevant documents and an application the consulate where the applicant resides. The process of renouncing citizenship cannot be implemented by mail. The presence of the applicant in person is mandatory.

It is important to note that the decision to authorize a renunciation of citizenship is made at the sole discretion of the Minister of the Interior or anyone appointed by him, and as long as such authorization is not given, the person who made the declaration is still an Israeli citizen.

It should be noted also that there have been cases in which the Minister saw fit, for various reasons, not to authorize a renunciation of citizenship. Among the most common reasons for denial of such applications are the lack of ability to show a permanent transfer of residency & required military duty. 

Government Fees for 2015: The annual fee employers must pay for each foreign national has remained with no change since 2014 and is currently 9,600 NIS (USD 2,440). B-1 work visa and work permit fees also have not been changed and currently total 11,170 NIS (USD 2,840). 

The content herein is provided for informational purposes only.
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Client Alert(Israel): Termination of 30 Days Work Authorization (SEA) Pilot Program

Effective today, the Ministry of Interior has advised that it will no longer accept applications for 30 day work authorization (SEA) as part of its pilot program. The program was initiated for an indefinite trial period in order to examine work authorization options for brief, urgent travel to Israel of up to 30 days in order to address instances of necessary urgent repairs and the like.

The Ministry of Interior announced its decision today following one year of the program’s existence. The Ministry will also no longer accept SEA applications and currently pending applications will not be processed. 

The Ministry of Interior has advised that will begin to accept SEA applications once formal regulations concerning the program have been published. At this time, no exact date has been provided as to the new regulation’s publication, however Kan-Tor and Acco estimates that such regulations will be published in the near future. 

Suggested Action – Employers are now required to submit applications for 3-Month Work Permits (STEP) for any pro-active assignment of less than 90 days. The processing time frame is currently 1-2 months.

The content herein is provided for informational purposes only.
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Client Alert (Israeli): December Consulate Holidays

Employers and foreign nationals should expect delays in the processing of work permits in the next few weeks, when many Israeli consulates worldwide close or have reduced staff and hours due to the holiday season. During this time backlogs can occur as employers and foreign nationals submit large numbers of applications for assignments scheduled to begin early in the new year. 

Israeli consulates abroad have the option of closing or operating on a part-time schedule between December 23, 2014 through January 1st, 2015. During the partial closures, applications may not be processed, and no work permits or visas may be issued, depending on the particular consular post. Processing delays may continue after the holidays due to application backlogs resulting from the closures, though the extent of the processing delays cannot be predicted with specificity at this time. 

Applicants and Employers are strongly advised to contact the particular consulate before travelling, to make sure the consular staff will be able to provide service on the particular date. 

The content herein is provided for informational purposes only.
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Client Alert (Israel): New restrictions on 30 day work authorization process (SEA)

The 30 day work authorization (SEA) visa was originally designated for visits to Israel for short, urgent and repair matters, and has undergone a 1 year trial by the Ministry of Interior. 

The Israeli Working Permit Unit (WPU) announced this week that new regulations regarding the SEA visa will be published in the near future, regulating the process in detail. 

According to the new regulations, as revealed by the Ministry of Interior, an assignee who has visited Israel under the SEA visa, cannot apply for a standard work permit/visa (B-1) in the 12 months following their last visit in SEA status. 
Additionally, the regulations clarify that a new permit must be applied for each time an assignee wishes to enter Israel on an SEA visa, and the time period cannot exceed the 30 day total within a 12 month period. 

While the official regulations are expected to be published soon, these new restrictions will already be enforced on an immediate basis for any future applications.

Suggested Action – reconsider submitting a 30 day working permit authorization when work for more than 30 days total is expected in the next 12 months. 

Kan-Tor & Acco will provide further information in client alerts following the official publication of the regulations.

The content herein is provided for informational purposes only.
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Holiday Closures in September – October 2014 will Delay Immigration Processing 

Israeli government agencies, including those responsible for work permit processing and visa issuance, will be closed during the observance of Rosh Hashanah (24-25 September) and Sukkot (8-18 October). Israeli consular posts will have the option of closing or operating on a part-time schedule, assuming Foreign Ministry employees return to work from their ongoing strike before September. 

During the closure periods, applications will not be processed, and no work permits or visas will be issued. Processing delays may continue after the holidays due to application backlogs resulting from the closures. 

The extent of the processing delays from the closures cannot be predicted with specificity at this time. Employers are strongly advised to submit planned applications before October to ensure they are processed timely. 

The content herein is provided for informational purposes only.
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Client Alert (Israel): Botswana – Israel Visa Waiver Program

This week, the Interior Committee of the Knesset provided authorization for citizens of Botswana to enter Israel on a visa waiver program.
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Client Alert (Israel):Israel's Parliament approved the Knesset's regulations for special visa for investors from the US

Americans seeking to invest in Israeli companies will be given a special visa type “B-5”, according to regulations approved by the Israeli Parliament – the Knesset’s Interior Committee earlier this week.

In June 2012, US President Barack Obama approved an amendment allowing Israeli investors, their families and executives in their companies, to enter the US with an E-2 visa, but the change could only go into effect once Israel provides a reciprocal visa type.

The Knesset committee gave the Interior Minister the authority to provide the visas to American businesspersons under the new regulation that will be published soon by the Ministry of Interior.
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Client Alert (Israel): Israel Grants Citizenship to Same-Sex Spouses of Jews Immigrating to Israel (Aliyah)

Israel’s Ministry of the Interior has declared that it will issue citizenship to same-sex spouses of Jews who immigrate to Israel.  According to the Israeli Law of Return, all Jews are entitled to immigrate to Israel and, as such, receive citizenship for their spouses as well (regardless of the spouse’s religion). Until today, this right was only granted to heterosexual couples. Effective immediately, immigration authorities will no longer differentiate between married same-sex and heterosexual couples. 
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