The Knesset plenum approved Tuesday evening an amendment to a law on health professions which determines that paramedical professionals who were certified in a country where their job does not require an academic degree can convert their qualifications in Israel without having to go back to school.

Until now, occupational therapists, physical therapists, nutritionists, therapists who treat people with communication disorders and other paramedical professionals who moved to Israel in recent years found that they were not permitted to practice in Israel, where an academic degree is required for such jobs.

According to the new law, for the next six years, immigrants from any country in which this discrepancy exists will be able to receive authorization to work in their profession from the Health Ministry, as long as they meet all criteria other than an academic degree. The Health Ministry may withhold Israeli certification until after a six-month trial period, in which the immigrant proved his or her knowledge and experience. All decisions related to converting certificates must be presented to the immigrant in writing.

Knesset passes law determining that paramedical degrees obtained abroad will be recognized in Israel

MK Elie Elalouf

After six years, the Health Minister may extend the law for up to two more three-year periods, before having to re-legislate the policy. The law will not apply to people who lived most of their lives in Israel and traveled abroad to study.

Knesset Labor, Welfare and Health Committee Chairman Elie Elalouf (Kulanu) said, ”This law will allow immigrants and Israeli citizens to return home. We stick to academic degrees as if they are a force majeure, but they aren’t,” he added.

Fifteen MKs supported the legislation in its third and final reading, with none opposed.