Israel fast tracks immigration for refugee tech workers

Ron Katz  credit: PR
Ron Katz credit: PR

The "green track" will apply to Ukrainian and Russian refugees, whether or not they are entitled to enter Israel under the Law of Return.

From this Tuesday, the Israel Population and Immigration Authority will introduce a "green track" for refugees from Ukraine and Russia employed in Israeli technology companies, whether or not they are entitled to immigrate to Israel under the Law of Return, which applies to people of Jewish descent. On this track, the process of background checks and issuing work permits will be sped up and will take only a few days. Under existing procedures, this process takes several weeks, even for those entering Israel under the Law of Return.

At this stage, the track will apply to refugees employed by Israeli technology companies who have reached Israel or who are working remotely, and to refugees recently hired by such companies. The inclusion of the latter group is intended to encourage Israeli companies to hire refugees with technological backgrounds who have reached Israel or who wish to come here, irrespective of their ethnicity.

For refugees entitled to enter Israel under the Law of Return, the green track will offer checks of that entitlement within four days of the necessary documents being submitted, for refugees and their families. These refugees will receive immediate work permits while the immigration process continues through normal channels at the Ministry of Immigrant Absorption.

For those to whom the Law of Return does not apply, the green track will offer the issue of entry permits and temporary work permits within four days. If the refugee and the company employing him or her apply to extend the period of employment beyond 90 days, each case will be examined on its merits by the Population and Immigration Authority. Family members will also be able to work in Israel if the worker plans to stay in Israel for more than 90 days.

The program is a joint initiative of MK Ron Katz, who is chairperson of the Knesset Subcommittee for Advancing High Tech and Innovation in Israel, and the Reboot Startup Nation organization, which was founded by recent immigrants from Ukraine and Russia with the aim of assisting refugees from the war in Ukraine in finding employment in Israel's technology sector. The organization will help in identifying refugees with technological backgrounds interested in being taken on by Israeli companies, and in recruiting companies prepared to hire them.

"In the past month, Israeli technology companies have battled to bring their employees [in Ukraine] to safe places as quickly as possible," Katz said. "In cooperation with the Population and Immigration Authority, we have found a way of helping them. In the first stage, Israel will be able to offer a green track to those in technology professions and their families, irrespective of their entitlement or otherwise under the Law of Return. This will speed up processes and give them time to consider their next steps."

Sophia Tupolev-Luz, an immigrant from the US who was born in Russia and is the founder of Reboot Startup Nation, added that the program would help to turn Israel into a safe place for refugees, with the assistance of local technology companies. So far, over a thousand candidates with technological backgrounds have signed up to the initiative.

Nearly four million Ukrainians have fled the country. According to the latest numbers, 11,263 Ukrainian refugees have landed at Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion Airport who are not entitled to immigrate, and 3,502 without visas. From Russia, 9,694 people have arrived without entitlement to immigrate under the Law of Return, and another 2,054 without visas.

Published by Globes, Israel business news - - on March 28, 2022.

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd., 2022.

Ron Katz  credit: PR
Ron Katz credit: PR
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