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Entry of foreign citizens to Israel during coronavirus – update of guidelines

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Michael Decker

Our firm deals with immigration and visas for the entry of foreign citizens into Israel, routinely and during the corona crisis. We are closely following the legal developments following the crisis, especially with regard to the possibilities of leaving and Entry to Israel during coronavirus restrictions. Below we present important updates (as of April 7, 2021), regarding the entry of foreign citizens into Israel.

The Cohen, Decker, Pex & Brosh law firm in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv specializes in immigration to Israel. The lawyers from our firm have extensive professional experience in handling applications for entry and residence visas in Israel.

Entry of Foreign Citizens as of April 2021 – Subject to Compliance with the Criteria

The corona crisis has led to significant restrictions on entry into Israel, in general, and entry of foreign citizens, in particular. Following the outbreak of the virus around the world, restrictions have been placed on the entry of foreign citizens from abroad. Many foreign citizens were left without a solution, even when they needed to enter for work, urgent medical care, a family visit, and so on.

Following an improvement trend that began in Israel and around the world with regard to the spread of the virus, in April 2021, an update of the guidelines was published by the Israeli Ministry of Interior. The updated guidelines expand the possibilities of foreign citizens entering Israel, but require that an application be filed to the relevant authorities, as detailed below.

The new guidelines were published following the decision to allow Israelis to enter Israel starting from March 2021, and following a petition submitted to the High Court of Justice on the subject. Following the petition, quotas that limited the number of Israelis who could enter Israel daily were abolished. At the same time, it was decided to allow the entry of foreign citizens, subject to the approval of the relevant authorities depending on the type of application. The new guidelines expand the possibilities of entering Israel. Below we detail the cases in which foreigners will be allowed to enter Israel at this stage.

Entry of foreign citizens to Israel during coronavirus – update of guidelines

Entry of Vaccinated or Recovered Israelis or First-Degree Family Members of Israelis (Husband / Wife and Children / Parents)

The new guidelines allow the entry into Israel of vaccinated or recovered Israeli citizens or permanent residents who reside mainly abroad. They will be able to visit Israel with their spouses and children, even if the spouses and children are foreigners. In addition, first-degree foreign relatives of Israeli citizens or of permanent residents in Israel will be allowed to visit Israel. The relatives will be allowed to visit with their spouses and children.

Those who meet the above criteria and wish to visit Israel will be required to prove that they have been vaccinated against COVID-19 or have recovered from the virus (not including infants up to one year of age). In addition, they will be required to prove family connection by presenting relevant legally verified documents (i.e., signed with an apostille stamp). However, in special cases, an exemption from an apostille stamp may be requested from the Consular Division of the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Requests to visit Israel according to the above criteria must be submitted to the relevant population bureau or through Israel’s Diplomatic Mission (Embassy / Consulate) at the place where the foreigners interested in visiting Israel are staying.

Entry into Israel of Foreigners Who Have Not Been Vaccinated and Have Not Recovered from COVID-19

Below we present additional criteria that allow entry of foreign citizens into Israel even if they have not been vaccinated and have not recovered from COVID-19. As a rule – quarantine, a negative coronavirus test (PCR) before flying to Israel, and another test upon arrival in Israel are still required. Also, the guidelines are updated frequently, and it is important to check what the latest guidelines are. In any case of doubt as to whether the entry of foreign citizens into Israel is permitted, it is advisable to consult a lawyer who specializes in immigration to Israel.

Foreign Spouses (Formally Married / in a Common-Law Marriage) of Israeli Citizens or Permanent Residents

Foreign spouses (formally married / in a common-law marriage) of Israeli citizens or permanent residents (not in the graduated procedure for obtaining legal status) and their minor children will be allowed, subject to the following conditions, to apply for entry into Israel: (1) the marriage is registered in the Israeli Population Registry; (2) The couple has presented proof of the sincerity of the relationship between them. These applications must be submitted to the relevant population bureau or through Israel’s Diplomatic Mission (Embassy / Consulate) at the place where the foreigners interested in visiting Israel are staying.

Foreign spouses of Israeli citizens or of permanent residents who have applied to receive legal status in Israel will be able to enter Israel after receiving approval from the population bureau handling their case, and subject to compliance with the criteria set forth in the relevant regulations for entry into Israel (the regulations for married couples or spouses in a common-law marriage).

Foreign spouses of Israeli citizens or of permanent residents who are in the graded procedure for obtaining legal status in Israel will be able to enter Israel by virtue of the graded procedure. They will be allowed to enter with their minor children, if any, and only if the minors are also in the graded procedure. In such cases, requests must be submitted through Israel’s Diplomatic Mission (Embassy / Consulate) at the place where the foreign couple and their minor children are staying.

Entry into Israel of Minor Children of Israelis or Foreign Parents of Israeli Minors

It is possible to apply for entry into Israel of minor children living abroad and holding a foreign passport whereas one of the parents is an Israeli citizen living in Israel and the other parent is a foreigner living abroad. To be allowed to enter Israel, an original apostilled birth certificate must be presented (except in special cases where an exemption from apostilation may be requested). The birth certificate must prove a connection to the Israeli citizen. Approval of the application will be subject to registration of the minor children as Israeli citizens. In addition, the foreign parents will be required to sign a letter of consent for the minors to travel to Israel before the Israeli consul at their place of residence.

Foreign parents of Israeli minors who have custody of the minors may apply for entry into Israel to visit their children. The application must be submitted through Israel’s Diplomatic Mission (Embassy / Consulate) at the place where the foreign parents reside.

Higher-Education Students, Masa Israel Journey / Na’ale Program Participants, and Foreign Yeshiva (Jewish religious scholarship institution) Students

The new guidelines allow entry into Israel of foreign higher-education students abroad who have begun their studies in Israel. An application for entry must be submitted through Israel’s Diplomatic Mission (Embassy / Consulate) at the place where the foreign students are staying.

Non-minor foreign yeshiva students abroad who wish to start studying in Israel may apply to enter Israel. The application must be submitted through the Yeshiva where the students are interested in studying, and is subject to prior approval by the Israeli Ministry of Health.

Young adults abroad who are interested in participating in the Masa Israel Journey or Na’ale Program in Israel may apply for entry into Israel. The application must be submitted through the administration of the program in which they wish to participate (Masa / Na’ale).

Entry of Foreign Businessmen into Israel

The updated guidelines allow applying for entry of foreign businessmen into Israel, subject to the approval of the Israeli Ministry of Economy. If the foreign businessmen are not vaccinated, approval of the Israeli Ministry of Health will also be required. The application must be submitted through Israel’s Diplomatic Mission (Embassy / Consulate) at the place where the foreign businessmen are staying.

Entry of Foreign Workers

The updated guidelines allow the entry into Israel of foreign workers in the construction and agriculture industries. Besides new workers, foreign workers who have left Israel to visit their homeland may also enter Israel.

Entry of Foreign Nursing Workers

The corona crisis caused a serious shortage of foreign nursing workers in Israel. The updated guidelines allow applying for entry into Israel of new foreign nursing workers, as well as entry of foreign nursing workers who have left Israel to visit their homeland. The application will be processed according to the usual regulations for inviting foreign nursing workers. However, the foreign nursing workers will be required to receive vaccination against COVID-19 upon arrival in Israel.

Entry of foreign citizens to Israel during coronavirus – update of guidelines

Entry of Foreign Experts

Experts in various fields, such as diamond workers, often come to work in Israel. The new guidelines allow limited entry of experts, who may enter Israel under one of two conditions: (1) their arrival is required for national infrastructure purposes; (2) their arrival is required for the purpose of functional continuity in the Israeli economy. To invite foreign experts, the relevant government office must first give its recommendation, and then an online application must be submitted.

Foreign experts who have a permit to work in Israel for a year or more will be able to apply for a permit to leave Israel for a homeland vacation and return afterwards (a type of inter-visa). This application must be arranged in advance through the Bureau of the Population and Immigration Authority.

The Entry of Foreign Athletes, Artists, and Culture People into Israel

The updated guidelines make it possible to apply for the entry of foreign athletes, artists, or culture people into Israel. To do this, a recommendation for entry must be obtained from the Israeli Ministry of Culture and Sport. The application must be submitted together with the recommendation to the relevant population bureau, through the entity interested in inviting the foreign athletes, artists, or culture people.

Foreign Volunteers

The updated guidelines allow local organizations to invite volunteers in the fields of welfare and agriculture. For this purpose, the relevant government office must give its recommendation to invite the volunteers. Foreign volunteers in the fields of agriculture will be required, in addition, to obtain approval from the Israeli Ministry of Health. Applications must be submitted through the relevant population bureau.

Medical Tourism

The updated guidelines allow applying for the entry of foreign citizens for the purpose of medical tourism. This is only allowed in life-saving cases, and subject to the approval of the relevant hospital director or deputy.

Visits for Family Events (Weddings / Bar Mitzvahs / Bat Mitzvahs / Births / Funerals)

The updated guidelines allow the arrival of first-degree relatives for a wedding of Israeli citizens, permanent residents, or foreign citizens lawfully residing mainly in Israel. Foreign parents of a groom or bride will be able to enter Israel in compliance with the quarantine rules set forth by the Israeli Ministry of Health. Additional first-degree family members will only be able to enter Israel if they are vaccinated against COVID-19 or have recovered from the coronavirus. Applications must be submitted through Israel’s Diplomatic Mission (Embassy / Consulate) at the place where the relatives reside.

First-degree foreign relatives will also be able to arrive for bar / bat mitzvahs or births, provided they are vaccinated or have recovered from COVID-19. Applications must be submitted through Israel’s Diplomatic Mission (Embassy / Consulate) at the place where the relatives reside.

The guidelines allow the entry of first-degree relatives (without spouses) for the purpose of attending funerals. As a rule, entry will be approved for 24 hours only and for the purpose of attending the funeral. However, it will be possible to apply to stay for the week of mourning, in accordance with the quarantine rules of the Israeli Ministry of Health. Applications must be submitted through Israel’s Diplomatic Mission (Embassy / Consulate) at the place where the relatives reside.

Entry of Lone Soldiers or National-Service Volunteers

The latest guidelines make it possible to apply for the entry of foreign relatives of lone soldiers. This includes spouses, parents, and siblings. Applications must be submitted through Israel’s Diplomatic Mission (Embassy / Consulate) at the place where the relatives reside.

The guidelines make it possible to apply for entry of foreign parents and siblings of national-service volunteers, as well. Applications must be submitted through Israel’s Diplomatic Mission (Embassy / Consulate) at the place where the relatives reside.

Entry of Clerics into Israel

The latest guidelines make it possible to apply for the entry of clerics with A/3 visas and new clergy volunteers or those who hold a B/4 visa. The application for their entry must be submitted together with a recommendation from the Religious Groups Department as well as a certificate of approval from the Israeli Ministry of Health regarding the quarantine conditions.

Entry of Foreign Journalists

Representatives of Israeli media will be able to request the entry of foreign journalists into Israel. Applications must be submitted to the Population Administration bureau together with a declaration-of-quarantine form. In the case of journalists who work for media that do not have a branch in Israel, the application must be submitted through Israel’s Diplomatic Mission (Embassy / Consulate) at the place where the foreign journalists reside. In the case of journalists coming for a period of one year or more, or for permanent employment, the application must be submitted together with a recommendation from the Government Press Office.

Contact an Immigration Lawyers

In conclusion, the updated guidelines expand the possibilities of foreign citizens entering Israel, despite the corona restrictions. New updates are continuously published on our website. For any question or assistance in submitting an application for entry into Israel, contact us and a lawyer from our firm will be happy to be at your service. The Cohen, Decker, Pex & Brosh law firm has extensive experience and expertise in immigration law and in handling applications for foreign citizens to enter Israel.

Entry of foreign citizens to Israel during coronavirus – update of guidelines

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