Humanitarian visas for foreign caretakers in Israel
In this article we will explain the application process for a humanitarian visa for foreign caretakers. This is one of the “hottest” issues regarding the employment of foreign worker caretakers in Israel. These foreign workers come to take care of elderly and handicapped patients who need full-time care. The Entry into Israel law states that after a maximum of 63 months from their arrival in Israel, all foreign caretakers are required to return to their country of origin. However, law was amended recently, to define the exceptional criteria under which foreign caretakers are permitted to stay in Israel for an additional period based on a “special visa”.
What are these criteria? What does it mean when an application for a humanitarian visa is rejected outright? And what are the judicial processes by which applications for humanitarian visas are considered? We will explain these and other topics below.
Our law offices specialize in the legal status of foreign workers. We provide our clients with solutions and assistance for issues such as; obtaining work visas for foreign caretakers, obtaining and extending employment and temporary Israeli residency permits, representation in various committees and courts, and legal counseling and assistance for workers and employers in this area.
In another article in this series, we discussed the issue of visas and residency and work permits for foreign caretakers in Israel, as well as the ways to extend them. We have dedicated a separate article to the issue of humanitarian visas for foreign caretakers. The matter is highly complex, affecting a specific category of cases wherein foreign caretakers have completed their maximum allowed employment period in Israel (63 months) but an extension of their employment is essential in order to continue caring for the patient who is employing them.
Main criteria for applying for a humanitarian visa
A foreign caretaker who has been residing in Israel for less than 8 years can apply for a humanitarian visa. The caretaker must have worked continuously for an invalid patient for at least 24 months, and their previous employment must have ended because the patient died or was institutionalized. The application for a humanitarian visa is submitted to a special committee which advises the Interior Minister on whether to approve it.
The primary criterion is whether care for the invalid patient involves special, exceptional circumstances, connected to the complexity or uniqueness of the skills and knowledge required, or to other personal circumstances of the patient. One way to prove the existence of such circumstances is via documents and professional opinions regarding the patient’s personal situation.
It is essential to act quickly – otherwise the application for a special visa could be categorically denied!
Time is a decisive factor in this matter. Application for a humanitarian visa must be submitted no later than 90 days after the foreign worker’s period of employment ends. In a long series of rulings, it has been determined that not even humanitarian reasons, nor claims of damage to be caused to patients and caretakers if the visa is not approved, can trump the rule that an application submitted after more than 90 days will not be accepted. This is an instance in which a request for a humanitarian visa will generally be categorically denied. A denial can also be expected if the foreign caretaker’s period of employment does not meet the criteria described above.
Cases in which the request is likely to be approved even if some criteria are not met
The law defines types of caretakers whose circumstances are particularly complex. For these types, the visa application is likely to be approved even if not all criteria are met. This may be the case even if the foreign caretaker has been residing in Israel for 13 years. For example; such a case may involve an invalid patient or handicapped child who is entitled to a stipend of over 188%.
The application for a humanitarian visa for foreign caretakers was rejected – what can be done?
The Entrance to Israel Act states that decisions of the Interior Minister’s Advisory Committee can be appealed. Under the Act, the appeal is submitted to a special appeals court. Here too it is important to act as quickly as possible, because the appeal must be filed without delay, at the very most within 30 days of receiving the committee’s decision. The Appeals Court’s ruling can be appealed within 45 days to the Administrative Affairs Court in Jerusalem.
Contact an attorney specializing in foreign caretakers
If you are currently employing or would like to employ a foreign caretaker, or would like to receive advice and assistance regarding the employment of foreign caretakers, and specifically regarding a humanitarian visa, we will be happy to help. Contact our law offices in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, to obtain legal information and assistance. We specialize in the field of foreign workers and obtaining legal status for them in Israel, working with the various governmental authorities and courts.