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Inviting foreign citizens to visit Israel

Joshua Pex
Joshua Pex

Gáspár Erőss

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In what cases must an application be submitted to invite foreign citizens to visit Israel? If someone wishes to invite a foreign citizen from a country for whose citizens require a visa to visit Israel, that person must file an application with the Israeli Ministry of Interior. There are also other exceptional cases in which this rule applies, primarily cases of foreign citizens who have previously been refused entry to Israel (or who risk being refused entry). In this article, attorney Joshua Pex, a partner in our firm and an expert in Israeli immigration law, will explain this application process.

Inviting foreign citizens to Israel

In what cases are foreign citizens required to obtain a visa to enter Israel for tourism or visiting purposes?

In recent years, Israel has become a popular destination for tourists and visitors from all over the world. Additionally, Israel has seen an increase in the number of foreign citizens coming to stay for extended periods of time, for purposes such as work, studies or leading a joint life with an Israeli citizen. This in turn often leads to those foreigners’ relatives desiring to visit them. It is important to know that entering Israel is not an inherent right, in the sense that, as a rule, a visa must be obtained prior to entering, in accordance with the Entry to Israel Law. thanks to international agreements, many countries’ citizens are exempt from the requirement to arrange an Israeli visa in advance. Citizens of these countries can, as a rule, enter Israel and receive a tourist visa upon arrival. However, this does not apply to all countries. Foreign citizens from countries not included in the list are required to obtain a visa in advance if they wish to visit Israel.

For foreign citizens of countries for which Israeli visas are required, their visits often necessitate filing an application to invite them to Israel, for a variety of reasons. For example, in the case of foreign citizens who have previously been refused entry to Israel, failure to arrange a visa for them in advance may lead to them being refused entry upon their arrival in Israel. Moreover, in some cases there is reason to fear that certain foreign citizens will be refused entry, even if they come from a country on the list of countries exempt from the advance visa requirement to visit Israel. For example, this can happen in the case of relatives of foreign workers, who, unless they arrange a suitable visa in advance, are often refused entry to Israel. In such cases it is important to file an application to invite the foreign citizens ahead of time, so that they will be granted entry to Israel. It should be noted that there are cases in which, as a rule, the invitees will not be allowed to enter Israel. A common example is relatives of asylum seekers. The Population and Immigration Authority tends to refuse to let such people enter, even if an application to invite them is submitted. That said, it is strongly recommended to consult about individual cases with an attorney specializing in Israeli immigration law.

What does inviting foreign citizens to visit Israel involve?

Inviting foreign citizens to visit Israel requires submitting an application to the Population and Immigration Authority of the Ministry of the Interior. Only Israeli citizens and permanent residents can file such an application, and they must make an appointment at a branch of the Population and Immigration Authority for this purpose. The applicant must be physically present. The following documents must be attached to the application: the application form (which can be found on the Ministry of the Interior’s website); a photocopy of the invitees’ passports (including the pages bearing entry visas to other countries); a photocopy of the identity card of the Israeli citizen or resident inviting the foreign citizen; a commitment form signed by the inviting citizen or resident specifying the visit’s purpose and its duration, and committing to the invited foreign citizen’s departure before their visa’s expiration date; and official documents (including public certificates, if applicable) proving the connection between the inviting Israeli citizen or resident and the invited foreign citizen. In addition, an application fee must be paid, which, as of 2022, is 90 ILS.

Additional documents to be attached in certain cases

In a case where the invitee is a minor, a signed letter of permission by both their parents, or legal guardians, regarding their travel to Israel must also be attached to the application. Furthermore, in cases of foreigners who are citizens of countries that are defined as posing a security risk, or who are originally from one of these countries, an abbreviated CV form must also be attached to the application. This form will be submitted for security approval by the relevant authorities. If the invitees are coming for the purpose of participating in a legal hearing or a National Insurance Institute claims committee, a power of attorney to invite foreign citizens must also be attached to the application.

The process of handling the application and filing an appeal if necessary

After the application is submitted, it will be examined by officials of the Population and Immigration Authority. These officials are authorized to demand additional documents for the purpose of approving the application, and they are even authorized to demand, as a condition for approval, the deposit of collateral to guarantee the legal stay of the foreign citizens and their timely departure. If the application is rejected, an internal appeal can be filed, which will then be reviewed by senior Interior Ministry officials. If the appeal is also rejected, a further appeal can be submitted to the Interior Ministry Court of Appeals which, if necessary, can even be followed up by an administrative appeal of the court ruling. Objections to the Interior Ministry’s decisions may be required. In such cases it is recommended to consult an attorney specializing in Israeli immigration law before taking any action on the matter.

Contact an attorney specializing in Israeli immigration law

In this article we explained the process required for inviting foreign citizens to visit Israel. If you have any questions or need assistance in this matter, you can contact us at the phone numbers and email address below. We will be happy to be of service. The attorneys in our offices, located in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, specialize in Israeli immigration law and have extensive and proven professional experience in providing assistance in various procedures for obtaining visas and legal status in Israel.

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