In 2018, Israel received 28 000 new immigrants on a long-term or permanent basis (including changes of status), 6.6% more than in 2017. This figure comprises 22.4% family members. Around 66 000 permits were issued to temporary and seasonal labour migrants.

The Former USSR, the United States and France were the top three nationalities of newcomers in 2018. Among the top 15 countries of origin, Russia registered the strongest increase (3 500) and France the largest decrease (-700) in flows to Israel compared to the previous year.

In 2019, the number of first asylum applicants decreased by -41.9%, to reach around 9 400. The majority of applicants came from Russia (4 500), Belarus (700) and India (600). The largest increase since 2018 concerned nationals of Russia (+1 700) and the largest decrease nationals of Eritrea (-6 200). Of the 8 100 decisions taken in 2019, 1.6% were positive.

There were no major changes in immigration policy in Israel in 2018 and 2019. For the first time since 2009, the budget of the Ministry of Aliyah and Immigration Absorption decreased in 2019, but Israel continued to encourage immigration of Jews and the return of Israeli citizens who had emigrated. The government also continued its policy of helping Jewish immigrants integrate into the labour market. Integration efforts focused on two main targets: the integration of new immigrants from European countries such as France, Belgium, the Russian Federation, and Ukraine; and improving the integration of migrants and descendants of migrants from Ethiopia. Salary subsidies are provided to their employers. To facilitate access to employment, doctors with experience abroad in specialties in demand can be employed in hospitals and may obtain their license to practice in Israel without having to take an exam.

In May 2020, the high court cancelled part of the 2017 “Infiltrators law” which imposed a higher wage deduction on the salaries of illegally entering foreigners; this deposit is held by the state and returned upon departure. The withholding rate for this group is now 16%, the same as applies to all foreign workers in Israel. Additional withheld amounts were returned in 2020. Israel has made it less expensive to employ migrant workers by reducing the employer levy: from 2019 the agriculture sector is exempt and in all other sectors the levy was reduced to 15%. In February 2018, the Israeli government decided that foreign workers in the construction sector would be allowed to work in infrastructure as well as in housing.

In September 2019, the Population Immigration and Border Authority (PIBA) notified employers that from the second quarter of 2020, temporary foreign workers (except for experts) may enter Israel only through a bilateral agreement mechanism. Implementation of this requirement has been delayed by COVID-19 suspensions of admission.

The ministerial committee on immigrant absorption decided in August 2018 to improve language accessibility to public government services relevant to permanent migrants. An inter-ministerial team will examine the need for language accessibility for migrants and the specific state services that will be available in the main languages spoken by migrants.

COVID-19 had a major effect on admissions and processing. As of July 2020, processing of work permit applications is minimal and new long-term permits are issued only in urgent cases. Extensions of temporary permits are still carried out under regular procedures or are automatically extended temporarily. B-1 work visas for foreign experts, Short-Term Employment Authorization (SEA), Short-Term Expedited Process (STEP) work visas and Hi-Tech B-1 Work Visas (HIT visa) are automatically extended for two months.

Entry is refused to non-citizens or non-residents of Israel, although in exceptional cases extraordinary permission may be given by PIBA (e.g. granted for staff in emergency services). Holders of valid permanent or long-term residence permits may re-enter Israel without restrictions but not those with temporary permits. A 14-day quarantine is imposed on all persons including Israel citizens.

The programmes providing assistance to specific groups of foreigners who wish to voluntarily leave Israel are still in force but are limited under the circumstances.

For further information:

Metadata, Legal and Rights

This document, as well as any data and map included herein, are without prejudice to the status of or sovereignty over any territory, to the delimitation of international frontiers and boundaries and to the name of any territory, city or area. Extracts from publications may be subject to additional disclaimers, which are set out in the complete version of the publication, available at the link provided.

© OECD 2020

The use of this work, whether digital or print, is governed by the Terms and Conditions to be found at