How to appeal a refusal of entry to Israel
What to do if you were deported from Israel?
How to to appeal a refusal of entry to Israel? Our law office specializes in immigration and entry into Israel, so we are often asked this question. There are a number of articles on our website that are designed to help visitors enter Israel without being denied entry and deported. Still, no one has a guarantee that their entry into Israel won’t be denied due to a border control officer’s suspicions. In such a case, you’ll be deported from Israel, and automatically banned from entry in the future, usually for a period of ten (10) years.
What right does border control have to refuse entry to visitors, what are the repercussions of refusal of entry, and how can you appeal or shorten the duration of prohibition on future entry? In this article, attorney Michael Decker, an Israeli immigration lawyer, will explain how to appeal a refusal of entry to Israel.
What right does border control have to deport people without any proof?
Both international laws and Israeli law determines that every sovereign state has the right to approve or refuse entry into its territory to whomever it deems appropriate, even without necessarily establishing objective criteria for refusing entry. According to the Entry into Israel Law, the Minister of the Interior and his representatives (including Border Control officers) have the right to investigate, arrest, and deport visitors who are not residents or citizens of Israel.
According to regulations, refusal of entry should be based on “reasonable suspicion”. But suspicion is a subjective concept, based on visitor’s documents, behavior, and overall impression. The border control officer doesn’t have to conclusively demonstrate the denial is reasonable before deporting the visitor. At best, the visitor may request the Border Control justify the reasoning behind the decision by appealing to an Israeli court. The problem is that the Court of Appeals on immigration to Israel tends to interpret “reasonable suspicion” very broadly, and to side with the immigration authorities. Claiming that the border control officials did not prove that their suspicions are well founded, usually will not lead to an appeal being successful. An appeal against refusal of entry on this basis will only succeed if the visitor can prove that the decision was made on the basis of erroneous information, or was extremely and exceptionally unreasonable.
But I wasn’t even told why I’m being deported!
According to the regulations, once the visitor is refused entry into Israel, they are to be given a deportation order which states the reason for the refusal. But in practice, the deportation order is often only received after the fact, when the visitor’s advocate formally requests a copy in order to appeal against a refusal of entry to Israel. If you have already been deported from Israel, you can obtain a copy of the order by having your advocate contact the Freedom of Information Department at the Border Control headquarters in Jerusalem.
However, in most cases the reason for deportation can be easily inferred without reviewing the deportation order. The vast majority of citizens of the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe who are denied entry to Israel are refused due to the fear that they plan to work or settle in Israel illegally. Visitors from Muslim countries with relatives in the Palestinian Authority or the Gaza strip, and activists in organizations that support Palestinians who are denied entry, are generally refused on the basis of concern for the security of the State of Israel. In addition, many visitors are refused entry because they come to visit spouses or relatives, but have not arranged their entry in advance according to the procedures of the Ministry of the Interior.
I’ve been told by border control clerks that I’m not being deported, but simply refused entry.
There may be a difference for the internal bureaucracy of the Ministry of the Interior, but in practice, refusal of entry into Israel and deportation are one and the same. In either case, the visitor is not allowed to visit Israel in the future.
Theoretically, the automatic future prohibition of entry is limited to a number of years (10 by default). But in practice, in every future visit to Israel, the visitor may be refused entry once again due to “reasonable suspicion” based on the previous refusal of entry. The procedure for appealing the prohibition on entry into Israel is also the same both for refusal of entry and deportation.
Would it be possible to get help from an Israeli consulate / embassy in the country of origin?
Every year, thousands of Russian, Ukrainian, Romanian and Georgian citizens are deported from Israel. The Israeli embassies in these countries do not have the time or the manpower to process the appeals of even a tiny percentage of all refusals of entry into Israel.
In theory, the Interior Ministry’s department at an embassy in Western European countries (for example) may be able to help determine the reason for the refusal of entry and assist in the process of removing or shortening the future restriction on entry into Israel. However, those refused entry to Israel will usually need assistance from an attorney or relative / friend who is in Israel and files an appeal / invitation to enter Israel with the Ministry of the Interior.
Is there a simple, quick and convenient way to appeal a refusal of entry into Israel?
Unfortunately, the Israeli bureaucracy does not believe in simple solutions in general, and specifically in these cases. Removal of a “ban” based on refusal of entry into Israel is a complicated process. Even in the simplest case imaginable – the system confused the visitor with a person of the same name whose entry is forbidden, and “all” that is required is to bring proof that the two are not the same person – the process of canceling the prohibition of entry is long and complicated.
The Border Control Department has to make decisions that balance the state’s interest in preserving the security of its borders and the interest in allowing freedom of tourism and entry of tourists into Israel. On the one hand, there is an injury caused to the visitor due to the refusal of entry into Israel, on the other hand, the possible damage to Israel’s economy or security, to the extent that the Border Control Officer fears that they will be proven correct in their suspicions. Therefore, a visitor wishing to appeal a refusal of entry into Israel must invest time and effort in a long process that is intended to prove to the immigration authorities that they do not wish to harm the State of Israel – to settle or work in Israel illegally, or to harm the Israeli public.
What does a lawyer actually do to appeal a refusal of entry to Israel?
After a consultation call clarifying the details of the case, during which the lawyer and the client will jointly decide on the action plan, and what are the chances to appeal a refusal of entry to Israel, the client will be required to sign a power of attorney. The power of attorney must be authenticated at an Israeli consulate abroad or by an Apostille stamp. Without a duly signed and validated power of attorney, the lawyer is unable to represent the client with Israeli authorities.
After receiving the power of attorney, the lawyer addresses the Department of Freedom of Information at the Population and Immigration Authority in order to request the protocol of the interview at Ben-Gurion Airport. These documents contain important information that helps the lawyer find out the reason for the deportation and how to appeal a refusal of entry to Israel in this case.
The next step is to prepare a request to remove the prohibition and permit entry into Israel. The lawyer and the client decide whether to contact the head of the Border Control Department or to find an Israeli friend or family member who submit a properly written invitation for the visitor to enter Israel at the office of the Ministry of the Interior closest to the place of residence of the Israeli. It is important to take into account that it is likely that the Israeli citizen inviting the foreign visitor will be asked to deposit a bank guarantee in favor of the Ministry of the Interior, before the foreign visitor is given an entry permit and allowed to visit Israel.
What is the basis for the Ministry of the Interior’s decision?
It should be borne in mind that among the objective considerations of the immigration authorities (documents presented, proof of visitor having their center of life outside of Israel, the deposit of a bank guarantee), there are also subjective considerations of balancing between possible harm to Israel and the possible harm caused to the visitor as a result of the prohibition on entry into Israel. The Israeli immigration authorities and the court tend to understand and sympathize with visitors who wish to visit Israel in order to work or study legally, or who wish to enter Israel in order to visit family members or spouses. On the other hand, the harm caused to the visitor who only wishes to visit the Holy Land as a tourist is considered relatively marginal, and it is more difficult to receive an entry permit to Israel in these cases.
In conclusion, the chances of success in an attempt to appeal a refusal of entry to Israel are higher with visitors with a “good” reason to enter the country than those who wish to visit for touristic reasons only. However, even tourists who are determined to visit the Holy Land can certainly achieve a shortening or repeal of their period prohibition of entry from the Ministry of the Interior.
Contact our law firm in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv for legal assistance regarding immigration and entry into Israel, including assistance in appeal a refusal of entry to Israel and canceling the entry ban.