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Israel: Regulation of Employment Visas of Providers of Elder Care

(June 6, 2011) On May 16, 2011, the Knesset (Israel's Parliament) passed the Entry into Israel (Amendment No. 21), 5771-2011. The Amendment provides the Minister of the Interior the authority to pass regulations for the prevention of “misuse of a visa and residence permit” by foreign workers engaged in care of the elderly. The Minister of the Interior thus, upon consultation with the Minister of Social Affairs and Social Services and the approval of the Knesset Committee for Internal Affairs and Environment, was authorized to establish by regulations a cap on the number of times a foreign worker may transfer to a new employer. Transfer due to the employer's death is excluded from the calculation of this cap. The Minister was further authorized, with consultation and approval as specified above, to limit the authorization to employ foreign caregivers to specific geographical areas and to void work and residence permits of persons who have not been employed in the field of occupation specified in such permits for a period exceeding 90 days.

The Amendment requires that the regulations reflect consideration for the circumstances in which a worker's employment was terminated and for his right to liberty, so that he is not forced to work for any particular employer. It further authorizes the Minister of the Interior to deviate from the regulations with regard to either an individual or a type of foreign worker, if such deviation is justified in the circumstances.

According to explanatory notes for the bill, the Amendment was intended to address the negative impact of the widespread employment of foreign workers in Israel, including the rise in rates of unemployment and the reduction in pay among Israelis of a low level of education, as well inefficiency and delay caused in industries that require employment of foreign workers. The limitation of employment of foreign workers to defined areas of occupation (and to geographical areas) is designed to prevent foreign workers' infiltration of areas in which work visas are usually not granted. (Entry into Israel (Amendment No. 21), 5771-2011 & bill, the Knesset website (both in Hebrew & both last visited June 2, 2011).)