FAQ – All Visas to Israel
This article, FAQ – All Visas to Israel, addresses frequently asked questions about all visas to Israel. Scroll through and find the visa relevant to you as well as links to more in-depth articles we have on our website.
All issues regarding immigration and visas fall under the Israeli Ministry of Interior, which in Hebrew is called (Misrad Hapanim), and is the state office authorized to grant a visa in Israel. The Minister of Interior is the government official who is head of this office and the department of immigration and population, which is responsible for immigration and Israeli visa issues.
The law that governs the types of visas to Israel is the Law of Entry to Israel, which was legislated in 1952 but has been amended many times. The Ministry of Interior regulations expand upon the law and explain the method by which each visa to Israel is granted, extended, or canceled by the relevant government clerks.
What are the types of visas to Israel?
The questions and answers below address temporary visas for those contemplating immigrating or making aliyah (A/1), student visas (A/2), clergy visas (A/3), visas for spouses and children (A/4), temporary residency visas (A/5), work visas (B/1) and foreign expert worker visa extensions, an Israel visitor visa or tourist visa (B/2), a special US to Israel investment visa (B/5), and multi-entry visas.
Scroll down to your relevant topic regarding a visa to Israel.
What if I have a visa but I’m refused entry to Israel?
It is possible for Israeli border control officials to refuse entry to Israel to an individual. Sometimes, this is due to the fact a person needed to acquire a visa to Israel prior to coming to the country. However, other times, even if one has a visa, individuals can be denied entry due to suspicion of a security threat, a previous illegal stay in the country, or some sort of danger to the Israeli public. The Israeli border control officers may suspect illegal immigration or abuse of the visa to visit Israel for the purpose of illegal work.
If you have been refused entry to Israel, it is imperative to take immediate legal action to avoid imminent deportation. Our law office has extensive experience submitting quick petitions to the Appeals Tribunal where the refusal of entry can be overruled. Contact us if you need assistance with this.
To read more about the topic, see our article here.
Immigration Visa: I want to immigrate to Israel. Can I get an immigration visa to Israel?
There is no such thing as an immigration visa to Israel. You can either apply for an A/1 temporary visa (if you are eligible for aliyah, immigration to Israel), or you can begin the immigration process, if you are eligible.
If you are interested in a temporary visa, see our section below on the A/1 visa.
Aliyah to Israel for a Person Who Is in Israel on a Tourist/Visitor Visa (B/2):
If you would like to immigrate to Israel, you must be eligible to immigrate under the 1950 Law of Return or Israel’s family reunification laws (for a spouse, elderly parent, parents of soldiers, etc.).
If you are interested in immigrating to Israel but you want to come on a B/2 tourist visa first, you need to go to the Ministry of Interior Population Authority that is closest to your residence in Israel.
You need to go to your appointment with the appropriate paperwork, along with proof of Jewishness or your eligibility under the Law of Return, birth certificate, public certificate indicating a name change if you’ve had one, a public certificate from your country of origin indicating previous personal status (married, unmarried), and a public certificate confirming your lack of criminal record. (It is still possible to immigrate if you have a criminal record, but obviously it will be more complicated; see our article addressing the topic of aliyah with a criminal record here.) After your paperwork is processed and approved, the tourist will be granted Israeli citizenship.
For more information on how to immigrate to Israel, see our article with more details.
If you want more information about who is not permitted to immigrate to Israel despite being Jewish or related to a Jewish person, click here.
If you seek to immigrate because you are the great-grandchild of a Jewish person, you can read more about it in the linked article.
We also discuss religious and civil documents needed for aliyah in depth here.
A/1 Temporary Visa for Those Eligible for Aliyah: I am eligible to make aliyah (immigrate to Israel), but I do not want to apply for citizenship. How can I live and work in Israel temporarily?
The A/1 visa in Israel is a special type of temporary residency visa specifically for people who are eligible to immigrate to Israel (make aliyah). Basically, this A/1 visa is valid for a minimum of three and maximum of five years, and it allows you to live and legally work in Israel without becoming a citizen. It also allows you to receive health and national insurance. If you wish to immigrate at some point during or after having an A/1 visa, see our article detailing how you can do so.
A/2 Student Visa: How do I apply for a student visa to Israel so I can study in an Israeli school, yeshiva, college or university?
It is most common for people to apply for a student visa to Israel while they are outside of the country, but it is also possible to apply while you are in Israel, first coming, for example, on a tourist visa.
In order to get a student visa, first, you need to apply to the academic institution in Israel where you wish to study, whether a yeshiva, university or other study program. The reason for this is because you will be required to include a letter of invitation and confirmation of acceptance when applying for a student visa to Israel. Then, you will file an application either at the Israeli Consulate closest to you if you are abroad, or at the Israeli Ministry of Interior in Israel. If you file at an Israeli Consulate, then the decision regarding your visa will be made by the consulate. If you file in Israel, then your application will go through three different authorities prior to obtaining approval.
This visa is often granted for one year at a time and must be renewed for up to five years, although it is possible to obtain an extension beyond this depending on the academic degree.
For more information on what assessment is made and what paperwork is necessary to apply for a student visa to Israel, read our article on the topic.
Any extensions to student visa applications must be submitted in Israel.
A/3 Clergy Visa: How can I obtain a clergy visa to Israel?
In order to obtain a clergy visa to Israel, the religious institution in Israel must invite the clergy member to come to Israel. Many times, the clergy member is outside of Israel and should wait there for approval, although in some cases the application can be submitted while the clergy member is in the country.
First, the religious institution in Israel should contact the Department of Religious Affairs and explain:
1) why they need the worker, and
2) provide religious credentials such as ordination or other certificates showing that the clergy member is equipped to fulfill this need.
If the Department of Religious Affairs considers these explanations sufficient, it will issue a recommendation letter with which the religious institution can apply for a clergy visa with the Ministry of Interior.
A clergy visa is valid for one year at a time, generally for a maximum of five years. It is possible to apply for a special extension if the religious institution can sufficiently argue that the clergy member is needed beyond this time.
See our article on the clergy visa for more information.
A/4 Spouse / Children Visa: How can I obtain a visa to Israel for my spouse and/or children?
This question about obtaining a visa for spouses or children — specifically if it is an A4 visa — refers to those connected to a spouse / parent with an A/2 or A/3 visa.
If you seek a spousal visa for an Israeli permanent resident or citizen, please see our other articles on obtaining a marriage visa for a spouse, common law partner, or making aliyah to Israel with a spouse/children.
In the event you were issued an A/2 or A/3 visa and you seek to bring your spouse and/or minor children with you, they are eligible for an A/4 visa. They need to apply for the visa at the Israeli consulate or embassy closest to your residence.
The consular officer at the consulate or embassy will ask you to provide the following information: a completed application, payment of fees, and two passport photos (5×5 cm). The officer might ask for further information, but the items listed are what is most often requested.
If the family members are in Israel, the A/4 visa will be issued by the Ministry of Interior office that is handling the visa to Israel.
A/5 Temporary Resident Visa: How do I get a temporary residency visa to Israel?
Foreign citizens who have lived in Israel for a long period of time often wish to apply for temporary or permanent residency. An Israeli temporary resident visa (A/5 visa) grants the holder the rights to live and work in Israel while receiving all social benefits, including medical insurance.
The A/5 visa holder is issued an Israeli ID card. In contrast to permanent residency or citizenship, temporary residency must generally be renewed on an annual basis, and it can be revoked under a number of conditions, such as leaving Israel for long periods of time or that one’s center of life is no longer in Israel.
In order to apply for temporary residency, one must gather the necessary paperwork, pay the relevant fees, and apply at the Population Authority’s regional offices closest to the person’s residence in Israel. We discuss this issue at length in articles on our website, detailing many issues about the Israeli temporary resident visa, such as requirements, documents, information about extending the A/5 visa, and how the request is handled.
B/1 Work Visa: How do I obtain a work visa to Israel?
There are a number of ways to obtain a B/1 work visa to Israel. Israeli work visas are granted in specific fields of employment where there are not enough Israelis who are doing the necessary work, such as caretakers for the elderly and disabled, workers in construction and agriculture, as well as chefs at Asian restaurants.
The B/1 work visa is often given to experts and people with special skills for a specified period of time. The Israeli government does not wish to give jobs to foreigners that can be fulfilled by locals.
We see that people frequently obtain this visa for varying periods of time, a few weeks to a few months or a year (which can be renewed), for the purpose of business negotiations or to work as a medical intern, doctor, manager or CEO of a company, a lecturer or researcher, an athlete or coach, or as a performing artist, among others.
In order to get this work visa to Israel, an Israeli company must request the need for this foreign expert at the Department of Expert Workers. Once this is approved, then the company or individual can apply for the B/1 visa through the Ministry of Interior.
For more comprehensive information on the B/1 work visa, see our linked article which discusses who may and may not obtain one, the phases for obtaining the visa, how to get one, paperwork needed, and more.
To learn more about how to obtain a B/1 work visa extension, see our article on the topic.
B/2 Tourist Visa: How do I obtain a tourist visa to Israel?
Israel allows entry to tourists with a B/2 tourist visa. There are two main ways to obtain a tourist visa.
First, Israel has reciprocal agreements with many countries in the world, including the United States, Canada, Australia, Japan, the European Union, and more, thus citizens of these areas do not need to obtain a tourist visa prior to flying to Israel. Upon arrival, the individual may receive a three-month tourist visa.
Second, foreign citizens of countries without reciprocal agreements with Israel who wish to come on a tourist visa need an official invitation from an Israeli citizen or foreign resident. When sending an invitation, the Israeli citizen or permanent resident must also pay a fee to the Ministry of Interior. We provide extensive information on the application process in our article on obtaining an Israeli tourist visa.
If you are in Israel with a visitor visa that is about to expire and wish to stay longer in Israel and have a good reason to do so, you may want to try and extend your tourist visa at the local office of immigration at the Ministry of Interior. You can read more about the issue of extending your tourist visa to Israel at this link on our website.
Denial of Entry: I came to Israel on a tourist visa, but I was denied entry at the border. What can I do?
Sometimes people from countries that do not require visas in advance or who have obtained a tourist visa arrive in Israel, but they are refused entry by Israeli border control.
Often, when this occurs, the border control personnel are suspicious that the individuals may not be coming for tourism, but for illegal work, to promote BDS activity, for nefarious purposes harmful to the state and its citizens, or to carry out missionary activities. Border control is permitted to deny entry to individuals on these grounds or if they have formerly overstayed their visas and illegally resided in Israel.
If you are refused entry to Israel, you will be placed in a detention center until deportation. If you wish to appeal the refusal of entry, it is imperative to contact a lawyer immediately, and steps can be taken to overrule the deportation order.
Our law office has extensive experience helping individuals who were refused entry to Israel obtain their tourist visa by reviewing their case to help ensure that they pose no harm to the state and they plan to follow the rules of their visa stay in Israel.
B/5 Investor Visa: How can I obtain an investor visa to Israel?
A B/5 investor visa allows US citizens to invest in Israeli business ventures and obtain status for relevant individuals and their families to live and work in Israel.
In order to obtain this visa, we generally recommend an investment of a minimum sum of $100,000. The individual is not only expected to invest but also have at least fifty percent ownership of a business that will improve the local Israeli economy. In order to qualify, the investor must prove that they are skilled foreign workers who will generate job creation and opportunities in Israel.
Once a B/5 visa is approved, then the spouse and children of the investors can obtain a B/52 and B/53 visa, respectively, and are free to live, work, and study in Israel.
We provide more information on the application requirements and duration of the visa in our article on the B/5 investment visa for US citizens.
Multi-Entry Visa: How do I obtain a multi-entry visa to Israel?
All non-residents of Israel (including foreign citizens, foreign workers, refugees, etc.) who need to leave the country and return at a later date must obtain a re-entry visa. Most often people who need this seek to go away for a short vacation or deal with family concerns at home, among others.
There are two main categories we often address here: 1) inter-visas for foreign workers and visitors in the country for a long period of time, and 2) re-entry for tourists, illegal workers, asylum seekers or refugees, and foreign nationals in the process of receiving permanent status.
1) Inter-visas are applicable for those who have a B/1 work permit or a B/2 permit for foreign workers in the nursing field. A re-entry visa is an additional visa in the passport in addition to the existing work visa, and this must be presented at the border crossing in order to enter Israel again.
2) If you are an illegal worker, visitor without an entry visa, or asylum seeker, if you leave the country, it is unlikely that you will be able to return. If you are a tourist with a B/2 visa, you can leave the country and re-enter as a tourist unless Israeli border control becomes suspicious of illegal settlement or unlawful immigration to Israel. If you are a foreign national who is in the process of receiving a B/1 visa — for example, due to the fact you have married an Israeli citizen — you cannot leave the country without a re-entry permit, although it is possible to arrange for this with the help of an attorney.
A re-entry visa is valid for a maximum of 90 days, though some are valid for a shorter amount of time.
Contact Us on FAQ – All Visas to Israel – Israeli Visa Lawyers – Cohen, Decker, Pex & Brosh
This article, FAQ – All Visas to Israel, is one of many on visas and immigration to Israel. We have over 30 years of experience in immigration law, helping clients with all visas to Israel, and we have worked with numerous individual and corporate clients to help them make the bureaucratic visa process go smoothly.
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Advocate Joshua Pex