Foreign experts and their families – changing the regulations

In this article we will explore the issue of Entry visas for foreign experts’ families, explain the process and purpose of this specific Visa and elaborate on the problematic aspects of the present Entry Visa regulations.

Foreign Experts B-1 Visa

The issue of relocating foreign experts from all over the world and bringing them to work in Israel is essential for many companies. Such experts either bear knowledge and expertise unfound in Israel, or are top executives. Foreign experts can obtain an entry visa to Israel through a special procedure, awarding them a 1-year working visa, which can be prolonged to a total period of five years and three months. That type of visa can be obtained in compliance with the required terms, issued by the Israeli Work Permits Unit and by Bukahris’ Committee Report (a report surveying the volume of foreigners employed within the Israeli market, dated July 2001, relating to foreign experts):

  1. Salary amounting twice local Israeli average salary.
  2. Proven quality and proficiency of the foreign experts.
  3. Management or development expertise.
  4. Creating additional working places.
  5. Transfer of knowledge, expertise and Know-How, non-existing in Israel.
  6. High education and high professional level.

The above are some of the considerations of the Israeli MOI and of the Israeli Work Permit Unit when awarding foreign experts a B-1 status.

These experts hold high-executive positions, such as CEOs, Vice Presidents, Engineers, etc. Their contribution to the Israeli companies and to the local market is noticeable, and therefore it is important to facilitate and simplify their relocation process and their stay in Israel.

Visas for Family members

Most Foreign experts arrive for a short period of time, but in some cases they arrive for long periods of time. In some of these cases, spouse and children join the expert while in Israel. Family members receive Tourist B-2 Visas, valid for the same time period as the foreign expert himself.

Problematic Situation

Relocating a foreign expert is a combined, even complicated, task. It results with the expert finding himself in an unfamiliar country and surroundings, facing a different culture and mentality, and completely taken by the demands of his working place. His family members, however, are left unattended for and are not allowed working. And so, while the expert is busy working and his children are at kindergarten / school, his spouse is left behind, unable to and not allowed working, due to Israeli MOI regulations, declaring that permitting spouse’s work might result in permanent stay.

Dealing with foreign experts spouses, we must bear in mind that these are usually top-key professionals as well, contributing to their environment, speaking several languages, have lots of experience and knowledge from working places all over the world. They find themselves surplus, renouncing their personal career for a considerable period of time. This can bring about one or more of the following scenarios: 1. Married expert, highly skilled and needed, will refuse the job offer when considering its’ effect on his spouse – this might bring about hiring a lesser proficient expert for this position. 2. Frustrated spouse, finding herself / himself without work – a situation that can easily lead towards tension with husband / wife, and, as a result, a decision to leave before completion of expert’s tasks. 3. Spouse might find an illegal position – Loss of income to the local authorities. 4. Danger of breaking the marriage / family ties.

The need to change present regulations

We believe the Israeli MOI regulations, concerning accompanying families of foreign experts, must be changed. These are not second-degree workers, arriving for a few months, nor are they immigrants wishing to settle in Israel for good. They are high-rank experts, taking over senior positions, contributing from their experience, professionalism and time to the local market local economy, and to their employer. Relocation, although a very expensive process, is very common all around the world – many experts are constantly changing their positions, their working places and residency. Therefore, and being a part of western developing countries, the State of Israel and its’ MOI should make an effort and change the present regulations concerning Foreign experts’ families.

In our opinion, awarding working permits to the accompanying family members shall not cause any harm. The working permits are issued for a specified period of time anyway, and the employer guarantees departure of the experts and their families immediately after the employment contract has expired. Furthermore, we think that viewing such working family members as a potential danger, is unreasonable. Unlike married experts, having to take care of spouse and children, a single expert, arriving on his own, is a lot more dangerous – he is free and able to form social contacts with local Israelis.


This article elaborates on the regulations concerning family members, accompanying foreign experts arriving in Israel for working purposes, as these regulations are unsuitable for the modern era, create an uncalled-for burden on the experts’ and might result in their renouncing relocation offer. In view of the considerable contribution of such experts to Israeli companies and to the Israeli economy, these regulations must, in our opinion, be changed.


All said and explained in this article does not constitute a legal opinion and does not replace legal advice. Responsibility for using the wordings and opinions conveyed in this article relies solely and entirely on the reader.

This article was written by Dotan Cohen Law Offices, working in the field of immigration law in the United States, Israel, Canada and Australia.