February 4, 2015
After the program was temporarily suspended in December 2014, the Israeli Population and Immigration Authority (the “Immigration Authority”) has announced that the Short Employment Authorization (SEA) Program has been re-introduced for a second trial period. The newly published procedure offers significant changes to the document and process requirements; however, the overall program design remains the same: to provide companies with a quick and efficient means to transfer eligible employees for short-term, urgent assignments in Israel.
Open to visa-waiver nationalities only, applicants may submit applications for their SEA permits through the Work Permit Unit of the Immigration Authority (processing time is approximately six business days). Upon approval, the employee will be allowed to enter the country on B-2 tourist status without requiring a visit to the Israeli Consulate for visa issuance. The employer, in turn, must file for the employee’s B-1 Work Permit which will be issued on the same day (if possible) or within a maximum of two (2) business days. The employer will be required to pay fees in accordance with the government decision.
Certain specifics of the B-1 permit issued under these circumstances have yet to be published by the Israeli authorities including, but not limited to, the validity period of such permits. However, authorities have confirmed that applicants can only utilize the SEA program for 30 days in aggregate within a 12-month period. As such, employers should only rely on the benefits for truly urgent assignments. Pro-Link GLOBAL continues to monitor the situation and will provide updates as they are made available.
Before the Immigration Authority introduced the SEA program, foreign employees who were urgently needed in Israel were required to complete the lengthy B-1 Work Permit application or the 90-Day Short Term Expedited Process (STEP) program before entering Israel for work purposes. While these permit types have their own distinct advantages, processing times can be several months long and provide a difficult obstacle for urgent assignments.
This trial period runs from January 26 – July 31, 2015, after which the program and its current regulations will undergo further evaluations and possible modifications.