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Israeli Passport for New Immigrants and Passport Renewal to Israelis Abroad

Joshua Pex
Joshua Pex

Genaan Abdelall

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New immigrants to Israel based on the Law of Return (Olim) and Israelis that live abroad are eligible to hold an Israeli passport. However, Israeli authorities oppose receipt of Israeli citizenship for the sole purposes of easier immigration to other foreign countries.

There are those who have the right of Return and receive an Israeli passport but never become residents of Israel – making Aliyah solely to receive an Israeli passport for use abroad, having never made Israel their center of life – can encounter complications in the use and renewal of their Israel passport.

Our law offices specialize in matters of Aliyah and residency in Israel. In this article we will discuss the issue of quickly issuing a passport for newly arrived immigrants and renewing a passport to an Israeli who has moved to another country.Israeli Passports for New Immigrants

Lawyer Specializing in Israeli Passports to New Immigrants

There are many who are eligible to the right of Return who live outside of the State of Israel, whether they are eligible to immigrate to Israel as Jews according to Section 1 of the Law of Return, 1950, or whether they are eligible to immigrate as family members of Jews in accordance with Section 4A(A) of the Law of Return.

For a variety of different reasons (family, business, studies, etc.), many of those who are eligible for the Law of Return are not interested in coming to live and settle in the State Israel, but are interested in receiving Israeli citizenship and in holding an Israeli passport.

In light of this, Attorney Joshua Pex, an Israeli immigration lawyer, will explain the Passports Law (Amendment No. 9), 2017 which states that an Israeli citizen who received his citizenship in accordance with Section 2 of the Citizenship Law, 1952 – which regulates the citizenship status of an immigrant by virtue of the Law of Return – will have their Israeli passport initially limited for a period of one year, until they demonstrate they intend to permanently settle in Israel.

Encouraging Immigrants with Jewish Roots to Receive Citizenship Even if They do not Settle in Israel

Prior to the 9th Amendment in the Israeli Passports Law, the Minister of Interior was able to decline giving an Israeli passport to a new immigrant who does not settle in Israel for a normal period of 10 years, and he was able to decline giving an Israeli passport at all if that immigrant had not first settled in Israel.

The explanation of the proposal to the Passports Law (Amendment – Granting Passport to an Immigrant) 2017, notes that the State of Israel is attempting to make things easier for new immigrants, and the fact that new immigrants who did not permanently move to Israel are many times forced to settle with a laissez-passer document (teudat ma’avar), which discourages many eligible immigrants around the world from immigrating to Israel.

Though the proposal did not explicitly state that Israel would encourage eligible immigrants to become citizens when their clear desire is to continue living their lives in their home country (but with an additional passport, an Israeli passport), these were the operative results of the 9th Amendment to the Israeli Citizenship Law. Those eligible for Return to Israel from around the world could become citizens of Israel and receive a regular first passport valid for 10 years, while not moving to and living in Israel.

What changed since the proposal was passed?

After numerous media reports about new immigrants who received their passport and Olim benefits and left the country soon, including a specific investigation by Raviv Drucker that focused on immigrants from Russia and Ukraine, a compromise decision was made, splitting the difference between the pre and post-amendment situation. After the arrival of a new immigrant to Israel, he will receive an Israeli passport that is valid for one year only. If the immigrant lives in Israel for this year, or a most thereof, he will be able to renew his passport and receive a document that is valid for 5 years. After spending these five years in Israel, he will be able to get a passport that is valid for 10 years.

What Happens After the First Passport Expires?

After the first  year with the initial Israeli passport, if the Ministry of Interior discovers that the immigrant did not settle in Israel, the 9th Amendment does not apply. In this case, the Minister of Interior will be able to restrict the length of the renewed Israeli passport for that Israeli citizen, or grant that Israeli citizen a laissez-passer document.

In Section 6A(A) of the Passports Law it states that the Minister of Interior may determine cases in which a passport may not be given to Israeli citizens who live abroad and not extend the passport they already hold, except for the purposes of returning to Israel. Unless there are extenuating circumstances, the granting or extension of a passport, even if not for the purposes of returning to Israel, is at the discretion of the Minister of Interior.

However, the new immigrant not reisidng in Israel who received a short-term first passport, may encounter a refusal to renew their regular passport after the first passport has expired.

Appeals to the Minister of Interior in Everything Relating to Granting and Renewing Passports

Section 9 (A) of the Passports Law states that the Minister of Interior may delegate his authority to junior employees in the Ministry of Interior.

Section 9 (B) of the Passports Law states that anyone who considers themselves injured by the decision of the junior employee to whom the Minister of Interior delegated his authority, may turn to the Minister of Interior for the purposes of receiving his final ruling.

In light of this, every decision made concerning the refusal to grant a passport to an Israeli citizen, and refusal to extend a passport, may be appealed before the Minister of Interior himself in order to receive his final ruling. As long as the Minister of Interior does not give his “final ruling” then the claim can be made that administrative proceedings have not yet been exhausted before making a judicial ruling on the matter.

After receiving the Minister of Interior’s final ruling (his and not a junior employee to whom he delegated authority), the Minister’s decision may be appealed before the appropriate courts of law.

Conclusion – Contact Lawyers Specializing in Israeli Passports

Our Israeli law offices , which specialize in obtaining Israeli passports, represent many Olim who do not live permanently in Israel, helping them to receive their first Israeli passport for new immigrants.

Additionally, our office files appeals against the Minister of Interior concerning this subject, including petitions to the appropriate courts, in cases in which a regular passport is not given to an Israeli citizen who resides abroad.

Contact an immigration lawyer in Jerusalem or Tel Aviv to receive assistance.

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