Israel to relax rules for foreign tech workers

high-tech employees

Foreign high-tech workers will get two-year permits and be paid a minimum of NIS 20,000 a month.

Hundreds of foreign workers will begin working at Israeli high-tech companies and startups this year. In recent months, a special team has been looking into the importing of workers from overseas for Israeli companies, given the shortage of thousands of engineers. The team will submit its recommendations to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the coming weeks. Prime Minister's Office director general Eli Groner and Ministry of the Economic and Industry director general Amit Lang are heading the team, which also includes Innovation and Industrial Research and Development Administration director general Avi Hasson, representatives of the Ministry of the Interior, the Administration of Border Crossings, Population and Immigration, and others.

Sources inform "Globes" that the core of the recommendations involve reducing bureaucracy and easing processes for obtaining permission from the Immigration Authority for bringing in employees with expertise that meets the requirements of high-tech companies. These employees will receive "specialist visas" enabling them to move to Israel for two years, with the possibility of a further extension of up to three more years. Children and spouses of the holders of specialist visas will receive permission from the Immigration Authority to work in Israel.

The Ministry of the Economy and Industry will map local high-tech companies and establish a special database of 1,500 companies recognized by it. This will enable the Immigration Authority to ease bureaucracy and handling of requests submitted by the companies included in this database, and there will be no preference for accepting workers from any specific country. "When the Immigration Authority receives requests from companies in the database to hire foreign workers, it will require only declarations from the employers in the framework of the more rapid and simpler handling," a source involved in the plan said.

Sources inform "Globes" that in an attempt to maintain the relatively high salary levels in the high-tech industry, Groner's team plans to recommend that a foreign employed at an Israeli company receive a minimum gross monthly salary of NIS 20,000 - double the average wage in Israel.

Sources involved in the issue today said that Netanyahu, who is also Minister of the Economy and Industry, would endorse the team's recommendations. In contrast to the importing of foreign workers for the purpose of overcoming the shortage of personnel in agriculture and construction, no maximum quota will be set for workers allowed to work in Israeli high-tech companies.

Netanyahu ordered the program set in motion in February, after seeing figures showing a shortage of 10,000 workers in Israeli high-tech companies, startups, and cyber companies. An informed source said, "The Israeli high-tech industry has come to a halt: it is unable to develop and produce more than what it is producing now, because it lacks suitable personnel.

"At the same time, investments in Israeli high-tech are continuing apace, and Israel is still regarded worldwide as a high-tech investment magnet. We will overcome the shortage of workers by bringing workers from overseas. Already this year, companies will have several hundred such workers, and later there will be thousands." The main points of the plan for importing foreign high-tech workers are the granting of two-year specialist visas, with the possibility of a three-year extension; children and spouses of workers will receive permits for working in Israel; a database of 1,500 companies recognized by the Ministry of the Economy and Industry will be established; the Immigration Authority will shorten bureaucratic procedures for providing permits to employ foreign workers; foreign workers will receive a NIS 20,000 minimum monthly salary; and workers will come from any country in the world at the discretion of the company employing them.

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on July 14, 2016

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2016

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