The Interior Ministry has for the sixth time extended the work visas of some 3,200 construction workers from China who have been employed in Israel for a number of years already. Most of the workers arrived in 2008, equipped with work visas good for five years. The visas of many ran out that year and they returned home, but the visas of others were renewed. With the expiration of the visas a second time, the ministry chose to renew them all.
The reason for that is the ongoing shortage of construction workers in Israel. To alleviate that, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu last year signed an agreement with China for the admission of 6,000 more Chinese construction workers. However, so far only 1,500 have arrived. According to Globes, the problem is ongoing bureaucratic delays on the parts of both China and Israel.
Contractors are very anxious to bring in new workers. Because of their experience, Chinese construction workers earn an average of NIS 20,000 a month – considered a very high salary by Israeli standards. New workers, the contractors believe, will settle for far less. However, until the bureaucratic snafus are worked out, the main workforce of Chinese construction workers will remain the senior staff, Globes added.