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I am a US citizen, happily employed by a US-based company, currently spending a year in Israel on a A/4 "Family of clergy/student" visa. My company does not do any business in Israel, would not hire someone in Israel, and I do not have any intent on working for Israeli companies on the side.

What are my obligations regarding getting a "right to work" permit/visa from Israel? Am I good as-is, do I have to switch to a B/1 work visa, or is there something else in between? Does length of time in Israel matter? I know that for practical purposes, I can just keep working remotely and no one is likely to care, but I'd like to know how I'm officially supposed to go about doing this.

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A/4 is not allowed to work in Israel by default (doesn't matter where the employer is), but you can request a work permit as part of your application.

It can be given "at the discretion of the minister" (i.e.: some bureaucrat at the Ministry of Interior). The process is described here (this is a site for a Jewish organization, I don't know whether proof of Jewishness is actually required - check with the consulate). With that you can become self-employed and become a contractor for your US employer. You'll need to deal with all the taxes and social security issues, of course, and learn the concept of VAT.

B/1 is a foreign employee visa, and requires an Israeli employer sponsoring you which doesn't sound like something you'd be interested in.

You should probably discuss your options with a local immigration attorney.

I know that for practical purposes, I can just keep working remotely and no one is likely to care

Yes, until someone does. A nosy neighbor, or you get into some issue related to your work (like a job-related injury), or someone decides to screw your employer (having an employee in Israel opens the employer to a huge liability). There's also a tax information exchange between the US and Israel.

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  • That sounds like it pretty much covers it. I would still have to change my employment status with my employer, though?
    – user30660
    Commented May 6 at 18:46
  • @user30660 yes, probably
    – littleadv
    Commented May 6 at 19:40
  • But does OP actually considered to "working in Israel" given the remote nature of their work?
    – einpoklum
    Commented May 6 at 20:32
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    @einpoklum the remote is relative to the employer, not relative to Israel. The work is in Israel, and that's what matters.
    – littleadv
    Commented May 6 at 20:36
  • @einpoklum Literally the reason why remote working and digital nomad visas were invented.
    – Traveller
    Commented May 7 at 22:51

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