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What You Need to Know about Legal Status in Israel

Joshua Pex
Joshua Pex

What Are the Ways to Obtain Legal Status in Israel?

The immigration authorities of the state of Israel have a strict immigration policy, so it’s important to make sure that you arrange your legal status in Israel with professional assistance from an Israeli lawyer specializing in this area. Our law office specializes in immigration to Israel, and has a lot of experience working with clients on immigration to Israel, regulation of legal status in Israel in front of the Ministry of Interior (Misrad HaPanim), and working with immigration authorities all over Israel. We have several branches throughout the country, one of which is located in Tel Aviv in the center of Israel, which serves clients from abroad as well as residents of Tel Aviv, Holon, Ramat Gan, Kfar Saba, Givataym, Bnei Brak, and all over the country of Israel.

Advocate Joshua Pex specializes in immigration to Israel. He provides legal assistance to local and international clients, citizens from all over the world, who need legal assistance in the field of regulation of legal status in Israel and wish to receive an appropriate visa in their passport.

Israeli Ministry of Interior Office (Misrad HaPanim)

The regulation of legal status in Israel is carried out through the Ministry of Interior (Misrad HaPanim, in Hebrew) at the Immigration Department. The first request for Israeli legal status is initiated and made front of the Bureau of Population and Immigration offices located all across the country of Israel, according to the petitioner’s place of residence. In almost every city of Israel you will find an office of the Ministry of Interior. Special petitions and appeals against decisions of the various offices of the Ministry of Interior must be submitted to the headquarters of the Immigration Department, which is situated in Jerusalem.

Types of Visas to Israel

There are all kinds of visas in Israel: a tourist visa, called a B/2 visitor visa, which is issued for foreign citizens for up to three months for the purpose of visiting and vacation; Israeli visas for the spouses and children of an Israeli citizen/resident; a work visa, called a B/1 visa; a student visa; clergy visa; and temporary resident visa. There are also special visas for humanitarian reasons in Israel, and visas for children and grandchildren of people declared righteous among the nations. There are also special visas granted to relatives of Israeli citizens, visas for the elderly parents of an Israeli citizen, and special visas for parents of IDF soldiers in cases where the parents are not entitled to Israeli citizenship under the Law of Return.

The status of refugees and asylum seekers in Israel is in accordance with the International Refugee Convention.

A/5 Temporary Resident Visa

Temporary residence in Israel is called an A/5 class visa and is granted by the Ministry of Interior to foreign citizens. This temporary residency in Israel is aimed to give foreigners the possibility to regulate their legal status in Israel, but for a limited time period. The temporary visa holders are entitled to an Israeli identity card (teudat zehut), whose validity is limited in time. The identification is usually granted with a validity of one or two years each time. It is important to know that after six months, a person with temporary residence in Israel can get national health insurance. Temporary residents receive a personal identification number and are registered in the National Insurance (Bituach Leumi) like an Israeli citizen. Along with this, the status of temporary residence in Israel will be canceled if the person decides to leave the country and settle abroad or if the Ministry of Interior decides not renew the validity of the temporary residence at their discretion. Temporary residence is usually given at different stages of the gradual process for spouses of Israelis before receiving permanent residency in status in Israel at Ministry of Interior Tel Aviv

Permanent Residency

Permanent residence status in Israel grants the holder a permanent status in the country. Holders of permanent residence in Israel have a regular Israeli identity card, the ordinary Israeli personal identification card. However, permanent residents in Israel do not have the right to vote in the general elections of the Knesset, but they can vote in the local municipal elections. Permanent residents are not Israeli passport holders, therefore they must use their foreign passports to enter and leave Israel at the border crossings. It must be noted that a long period of stay outside of Israel, or permanently moving to another country, can lead to the expiration of permanent residence in Israel. Permanent residence in Israel is usually granted to foreign citizens who do not wish to renounce their foreign citizenship in order to obtain Israeli citizenship, so they decide to keep their foreign passport and hold Israeli permanent residence. It is noteworthy that there are Israeli residents who historically were defined as permanent residents but are not citizens. This is the case for the mostly Arab residents of East Jerusalem. These residents may, under certain conditions, apply for Israeli citizenship, provided they renounce their foreign citizenship.

Israeli Citizenship 

Israeli citizenship is granted to new immigrants entitled to return under the Law of Return as Jews, children or grandchildren of Jews. All of them are eligible for Israeli citizenship automatically upon arrival in the country. Also, Israeli citizenship is granted pursuant to Article 7 of the Citizenship Law for spouses of Israeli citizens and residents. Israeli citizenship is granted to spouses through a gradual process of at least five years. Moreover, holders of permanent residence in Israel are entitled to make the petition for Israeli citizenship according to Article 5 of the Law of Citizenship.

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