Since December 2010, offshore gas and oil exploration has been underway since the discovery of the Dalit, Leviathan and Tanna natural gas fields in Israel’s national waters. According to the November 7, 2011 Oil and Gas Journal, “Houston’s Noble Energy Co., which discovered the gas offshore Israel, is also exploring offshore Cyprus and is confident that the Leviathan field extends into Cypriot waters—a discovery that is changing how the region is viewed.  What we’re seeing now is a redrawing of the strategic terrain in the eastern Mediterranean,” said James Ker-Lindsay, a specialist in Turkey and Cyprus at the London School of Economics.

This is very important progress for a country with limited domestic energy resources like Israel. Companies that are considering assignments connected to Israeli’s burgeoning gas and oil industry should include the time needed and the requirements to receive the appropriate work visa for foreign experts. While Israeli immigration law allows certain nationals (e.g., U.S.) to apply for a B-2 visitor visa on arrival, business visitors are not allowed to work and must obtain a valid B-1 work visa in his or her passport prior to engaging in productive work in Israel.  

Companies wishing to sponsor assignees to Israel must produce evidence that a foreign worker possesses truly specialized skills and that the foreign worker’s salary will be at least twice Israel’s average monthly salary (approximately US$2,500).  B-1 work permit applications will be reviewed from an industry-specific perspective to ensure that foreign worker academic and professional credentials are directly related to the proposed position duties and that an Israeli national work is not readily available to perform the proposed job. Presently, the Israeli Ministry of Interior is processing uncontested B-1 work permit applications between two to three months from date of filing.