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

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Michael Decker

Our firm offers services in the area of immigration and entry visas to Israel for foreign citizens – both in regular circumstances and during the coronavirus pandemic. We closely follow the legal developments that were implemented due to the outbreak. In this article, posted in July 2020, we give some important and positive updates that will enable many foreign citizens to enter Israel.

The Cohen, Decker, Pex & Brosh Law office in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem specializes in immigration to Israel. Our lawyers have extensive professional experience in dealing with our clients’ requests for entry visas and residence visas.

The entry of foreign citizens to Israel during coronavirus has been limited. Despite media speculation (for example on TheMarker website) the restrictions on the entry of foreign citizens were not removed. Many foreign citizens who need to enter Israel for work, studies, family visits etc., have been left with no solution.

On the 28.6.2020 new guidelines were published, opening the country’s doors to many foreigners. This article will review the new guidelines and what they mean for foreign citizens who wish to enter the country. It should be clarified that at the moment, those entering Israel must still undergo a 14-day quarantine upon entry.

Immediate family members of Israeli citizens (husband/wife and children)

Foreign spouses of Israeli citizens or residents (not including spouses who are currently acquiring status in the gradual process) and their minor children will be allowed to request entry to Israel based on the following conditions; (1) the marriage is registered in the Israeli Resident Registry; (2) their ‘center of life’ has been in Israel during the past year: the Israeli spouse spent at least 180 days in Israel and the non-Israeli spouse spent at least 90 days in Israel.

Entry to Israel during coronavirusWhat can be done if the couple live abroad? The new guidelines allow them to submit a request, provided the non-Israeli spouse visited Israel during the past 3 years. After the submission and approval of the request, entry will be granted to the non-Israeli spouse and their children. They will be required to purchase health insurance which includes insurance coverage of the coronavirus.

In light of the update of the guidelines on the 12.7.2020, Israeli parents may be visited by their minor children, if they carry a foreign passport. A birth certificate, approved and signed by an apostille, will be required, proving the connection to the Israeli parents. Additionally, the approval of the non-Israeli parent will be required.

Another new category, added during the recent updated guidelines, enables the submission of a request to visit Israel by lone-soldiers, by their spouses, parents, and siblings. The request must be submitted through the Israeli representative (embassy/consulate) in their place of residence, or through the Israeli Population and Immigration Authority.

Spouses in the process of establishing their status in Israel

There are a number of different visas allowing for the entry of foreign citizens to Israel. Spouses of Israeli citizens and their children that are minors that are seeking to establish their status in Israel, receive a continued-stay visa. The new regulations enable those who have already begun such a process and have left the country, to request an entry permit. When the Israeli spouse resides in Israel, the request will be submitted to the Israeli Population and Immigration Authority. When the Israeli spouse resides abroad, the request will be submitted through the Israeli representative (embassy/consulate) in their place of residence.

Weddings, births, bar/bat mitzvahs and funerals

At this stage, it is possible to request the entry of non-Israeli spouses and their immediate family for weddings. The bride and groom’s grandparents will also be allowed entry.

For a birth, one can request the arrival of the grandparents of the newborn. The arrival will be permitted approximately one month before the estimated date of birth, subject to being quarantined for two weeks upon arrival.

For Bar/Bat Mitzvah events, immediate family, along with their spouses and children, as well as the grandparents of those celebrating the Bar/Bat Mitzvah, will be granted entry.

With regard to funerals, the current guidelines are stricter; allowing only the immediate family and their spouses to request entry to participate in a funeral. Here too, the requests are submitted to the Israeli consulate in the foreign citizen’s place of residence.

Students and foreign yeshiva students

Many foreign students studying in Israel left the country as a result of the pandemic. Alongside them are many religious students that came to study in Israeli Yehivas. The current guidelines allow them to request a re-entry permit. The request is reliant on the approval of the academic institution or Yeshiva at which they study.

The entry and exit of foreign experts

Experts in many fields, diamond merchants for example, come to work in Israel. The new guidelines enable the limited entry of experts, subject to fulfilling one of the following two conditions; (1) their entry is needed in the field of national infrastructure; (2) their entry is necessary for operational continuity in the Israeli economy. The person issuing the invitation must contact the relevant government ministry, receive their recommendation, and then submit the request to the Foreign Worker’s Administration within the Population and Immigration Authority.

Foreign experts with a year-long (or longer) permit to be in Israel, may submit a request for a vacation in their home country and be able to re-enter Israel afterwards (a type of inter-visa). Such a request must be established in advance with the Population and Immigration Authority.

Cultural personalities, artists, and foreign athletes

With regard to cultural personalities, artists, and athletes, the recommendation of the Ministry of Sport must be attached to the entry request submitted to the Population Authority.

Foreign volunteers in the field of welfare

Following the update of the guidelines on 12.7.20, organizations and non-profits have the opportunity to request the entry of foreign volunteers to provide assistance in the field of welfare. The relevant government ministry must be contacted to provide a recommendation letter for the approval to invite volunteers. The letter with a list of the names of the volunteers must be provided to the Population Authority.

Medical tourism

Thus far, the coronavirus limitations prevented the entrance of medical tourists to Israel. The new guidelines enable the submission of requests for entry for medical tourists. Approval of the requests requires the contacting the Hospitals Administration in the Ministry of Health, which provides a recommendation to be approved by the Foreign Affairs Ministry and the Population and Immigration Authority.

Contact an expert in immigration law

To summarize, the current guidelines enable the entry of foreign citizens to Israel, despite the coronavirus limitations. Updates from Israeli authorities are frequent, and we will continue to keep you updated. You can contact us with any question related to entry into Israel, and a lawyer from our firm will be happy to provide assistance. The Cohen, Decker, Pex & Brosh Law Firm has extensive experience in the field of Immigration Law and has assisted many foreign citizens in obtaining entry visas to Israel.

Entry to Israel during coronavirus

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