In this article, we will explain how immigration in Israel works and how to gain permanent residence. For expert assistance with your immigration matter, contact Reiss Edwards, immigration lawyers, and solicitors in London, on 020 3744 2797 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Israel has a great deal to offer prospective migrants from around the world seeking a new life. It is a land of enormous contrasts with historically and culturally significant cities such as Jerusalem, vibrant Mediterranean destinations such as Tel Aviv, the Dead Sea, the vast desert of the Negev, and the lush green landscape of Galilee. On the other hand, Israel has a robust and modern economy, which is home to some of the most high-tech businesses in the world. In this article, we will explain how immigration in Israel works and how to gain permanent residence.
Due to the immigration policies of Israel, permanent residence is only available to migrants in very specific situations. This is because the State of Israel was originally founded as a means to create a Jewish homeland, hence the immigration system of the country is primarily focused on helping Jews from around the world who wish to relocate to Israel. For this reason, non-Jews can find it harder to obtain a permanent residence permit. According to the Israeli Law of Return:
1. Every Jew has the right to come to this country as an oleh [someone who is entitled to immigrate].
2. (a) Aliyah [right to return] shall be by oleh’s visa. (b) An oleh’s visa shall be granted to every Jew who has expressed his desire to settle in Israel unless the Minister of Immigration is satisfied that the applicant:
(1) is engaged in an activity directed against the Jewish people; or
(2) is likely to endanger public health or the security of the State.
As such, in accordance with the Law of Return, the right to reside and settle in Israel is only given to eligible persons in accordance with the above. Once they have made aliyah (i.e. immigrated to Israel), eligible individuals receive an ‘Oleh visa’ allowing them to remain in the country.
Under the Law of Return, it is possible for non-Israeli family members of Israeli citizens to gain long-term residence status in Israel, including spouses/partners, children, and grandchildren, if they themselves are not Jewish.
Where a non-Israeli national is married to an Israeli citizen, they can initially acquire a temporary residence in Israel after six months. With this temporary status, they can then access the social welfare system in Israel, including healthcare. Citizenship is then possible after four years, however, the process for securing this is quite rigorous, as the Israeli immigration authorities want to be assured that the relationship is genuine.
Where a non-Israeli national is in a relationship with an Israeli citizen but they are not married (i.e. a civil partnership), it takes three years to gain temporary resident status in Israel. Permanent residence in Israel is possible after six years (as opposed to four for those who are married). However, those in a civil partnership cannot acquire citizenship, just permanent residency, regardless of how long the non-Israeli national lives in the country.
Other permits are available for non-Israeli nationals (as outlined below), but these do not provide an automatic right to permanent settlement in Israel. Instead, those who wish to remain indefinitely in the country are required to make a case to the Israeli authorities. And unfortunately, these are only granted in very exceptional cases. If successful, however, non-Israeli nationals can then acquire citizenship by naturalisation after five years in the country.
There is a range of temporary permits available in Israel, including:
The A1 temporary resident visa and a permit are available to those who are eligible for immigration through aliya. The document is typically issued for up to three years and can be further extended for periods of up to two years each time. The idea of this visa/permit is to enable those who are considering permanent settlement under the Law of Return to stay for an initial temporary period before they commit to staying permanently.
The A2 student visa is granted to non-Israeli nationals who wish to study in Israel. The visa is valid for up to one year and allows multiple entrances and exits (i.e. it is possible to leave and return freely during this time). Recipients of the A2 visa are not allowed to work in Israel, however.
Non-Israeli nationals planning to work in Israel can apply for a B1 work Visa and Permit. According to the Israeli Ministry for Foreign Affairs, “this visa is given to experts and artists, among others, and is granted solely with the approval of the Ministry of the Interior”. It is also possible to extend a B1 work permit and visa in Israel if required.
The B2 Tourist Visa and Permit is available to nationals of most countries on arrival in Israel and allows them to remain for up to three months, for a visit, tourism, or a business meeting). Depending on your country of origin, you may need to apply for a B2 permit as your local Israeli Consulate before making the journey to Israel. The Tourist Visa and Permit can be further extended.
The B3 Clergy visa is granted to clergymen to allow them to carry out their clerical duties with recognised religious communities in Israel.
As we have discussed in this article if you are a non-Jewish non-Israeli national planning to move to and settle permanently in Israel, if you are not the child or spouse/partner of an Israeli citizen, you will need to make a case to the Israeli authorities. It is advisable to engage the help of an immigration lawyer in Israel to advise you on your options and whether you are likely to have a case for permanent residence. Where possible, they will assist you to work towards residence and/or citizenship in Israel.
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