Israel Immigration Rules
Israel and immigration – answers to most common questions
Immigration to Israel is not an easy process. Writing about Israel immigration laws is even more complex, mainly due to the lack of a clear government immigration policy. For immigration in Israel, the main options are citizenship from birthright for Jews and their descendants, until the 3rd generation, who can legally make Aliyah according to the “Law of Return”. Legal status in Israel due to marriage or a relationship with an Israeli is also common. In special cases foreign nationals who have children legally living in the country as citizens or Israeli residents can acquire legal status in Israel according to Israel immigration rules. This is the case for parents of soldiers, and also for lonely elderly parents of a foreign spouse to an Israeli.
It’s important to consult with an Israeli immigration lawyer, since each case is different and needs to be examined by Israel immigration rules, as well as court verdicts, by Israel immigration tribunals.
In this article, Advocate Joshua Pex, an Israel immigration lawyer with more than 10 years of experience, will answer some of your most pressing questions concerning Israel and immigration.
Can anyone immigrate to Israel?
The answer to that is no. Israel does not see itself as an immigration destination for the world and does not have a general immigration policy. Rather, Israeli immigration policy is based on being the homeland for the Jewish people. Therefore, Israel immigration laws are few in number; regulations are made or changed due to relevant geo-political events, or political pressure. In general, Israel doesn’t enable foreign citizens to immigrate to Israel, unless they fit one of the categories below. You can read more about ways to receive Israeli citizenship in this article on our website.
Non-immigrant visas to Israel
Israel has various categories of non-immigrant visa, which apply for those foreign nationals who wish to enter Israel for a limited time and for a specific purpose. The most common is the B-2 tourist visa, with which around 3 million visitors enter Israel each year.
The B-1 work visa is granted to expert workers, as well as foreign workers in various fields such as agriculture, or caretaking of the elderly, since there are not enough Israeli workers to do the job.
Israel immigration laws also grant non-immigrant visas to volunteers in Israel. They enter the country for a limited time period, a maximum of 2 years, in order to help a local or international NGO, or government organization recognized by the Ministry of Social Affairs.
A clergy visa to Israel is granted to religious workers in religions institutions recognized by the state of Israel. More nformation on the process of religious visa to Israel can be found here.
Israel has granted a special visa for American investors to Israel, who will invest substantial funds in the local economy. You can read more about the B-5 visa for citizens of the USA in this article on our website.
Another visa category regarding Israel immigration laws concerns the migration of asylum seekers to Israel, and permits given to them. You can read more about the legal status of refugees and asylum seekers on our website, in this article.
Who is eligible for immigration in Israel?
Israel immigration rules mainly exist to serve those who wish to make an ‘Aliyah’. Aliyah is a process by which Jews or people with Jewish roots are eligible under the ‘Law of Return’ to immigrate to Israel and receive their Israeli citizenship alongside their spouses and their children.
Is Israel immigration possible if I am not Jewish?
Yes, Israel is defined as a Jewish and Democratic state and Israel immigration rules reflect this reality. In specific areas of the law, there is no difference if you are Jewish or not, and over the years the Israeli immigration policy developed in such a way to allow relatives of Israelis to join them living in Israel. However, we do recommend consulting with an immigration lawyer to get a clear answer about your specific case with Israel and immigration.
In any case, it is possible for non-Jews to immigrate to Israel when the following conditions apply:
Family members of Israeli citizens:
- Section 7 of the Law of Citizenship allows non-Israeli spouses of Israeli citizens to, with the help and sponsorship of their Israeli spouse, start an immigration process while living together in Israel. Spouses will receive a visitor visa followed by a work permit, then a renewable temporary residency. After approximately 5 until 7 years, the non-Israeli spouse may apply to citizenship or a permanent residency. It’s important to note that immigration for non-Jewish spouses is very common. Also, over the years and Supreme Court verdicts, this law has been applied to couples in a committed relationship (even if not married) as well as same sex couples. You can read more about this topic on our website, in this article.
- An Elderly parent of an Israeli citizen, who is living outside of Israel alone, with no other family member to take care of him, may be eligible, according to Israel immigration laws, to receive legal residency in Israel. This is a humanitarian law, meant to unite families in need and does not guarantee residency to each applicant. It usually works as a case-by-case consideration, according to the conditions stated in the immigration policy. You can read more about this process in this article we wrote on the subject.
- Parents of Israeli Soldiers who have served in the IDF are allowed to apply for legal status in Israel which enables them to join their children in Israel. See more information in this article on our website.
Non family members who may be entitled to Israeli citizenship:
- Those who are not Jewish themselves but saved the lives of Jews during the period of the Jewish holocaust of World War II (called righteous among the nations) and are recognized by Yad Vashem (National Israeli holocaust memorial and archive) and also their children and grandchildren, are allowed to receive legal status in Israel. See more explanation about this special visa on our website in this article.
- Those who are recognized as refugees in Israel, or are recognized as stateless people are granted after a long legal process a temporary resident visa (A-5) in accordance with Israeli immigration rules and the international conventions.
- If the minister of internal affairs deems that you have made a significant contribution to the state of Israel or its people, he has the legal right to grant citizenship, or another legal status according to the Israel immigration laws.
- It’s also worth mentioning that in special cases a person who has settled in Israel and is residing in the land on a temporary, non-immigrant visa, such as a work visa, student visa, clergy visa etc. may be able to apply for a temporary resident visa (A-5 permit). You can read more about this legal procedure in this article on our website.
Help with Israel immigration laws – Cohen, Decker, Pex, Brosh – Israeli immigration lawyers
Immigration to Israel can be a long, bureaucratic, legally complicated process, especially if you do not speak Hebrew very well. We strongly recommend contacting a legal expert to help you proceed. An immigration lawyer will accompany you from the very beginning of your process. We will be ready to provide you with solutions to every problem along the way.