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Refusal of entry – deportation from Israel

Joshua Pex
Joshua Pex

The process of deportation from Israel for visitors denied entry

Deportation from Israel can happen to any visitor – workers, tourists and spouses of Israelis. Population and Immigration Authority officials (the Border Crossings Authority, also known as border control) have broad authority to refuse entry into Israel, to arrest and expel visitors. In this article, an attorney specializing in Israeli immigration law explains what leads to deportation from Israel and how it can be avoided.

We specialize in immigration to Israel: Aliyah, work visas, entry as tourists and family unification. We are often approached by tourists, pilgrims, as well as relatives and spouses of Israeli citizens, who have been arrested at Ben-Gurion Airport and are facing deportation from Israel.This article by Joshua Pex will explain what happens when detained and how to avoid deportation.

Border Control Questions:

The first stage leading to arrest and deportation from Israel is something that everyone goes through – getting off the plane and being asked a few questions by a border control clerk. Israeli citizens get an automatic pass. Foreign citizens are subjected to more in-depth questioning to ensure that they have a “good” reason to enter Israel. The main issues being checked; whether the visitor came to Israel as a tourist or through another visa and whether there is a suspicion that the entry is for the purposes of illegally working or living in Israel.

As written in more depth in another article on our site, it is possible and plausible to prepare for these questions. Write down the details of the people you’re going to meet – relatives, friends or employers. Explain how long you will be in Israel, where you will stay and how you will leave (plane tickets, timetables). It is important to answer questions in a relaxed and coherent manner, without getting excited or irritated. Tourists from a country with which Israel does not have a “visa-free” arrangement, or from a country whose citizens are often refused entry to Israel, should bring documents indicating that their “center of life” is in the country of origin. This is to prove that they have no reason to stay in Israel or work here illegally. Generally, border control officials will not refuse entry into Israel if the visitor has a clean criminal record (at least sufficiently clean that information about it is not available in Israel), and left Israel before their visa expired on previous visits. It is recommended to look clean and tidy and to dress in a way that does not attract notice.

Reasons for automatic denial of entry and deportation from Israel:

There are certain categories of visitors whose entry into Israel is immediately denied, regardless of the suspicions against them. In our offices, we often deal with refusal of entry for foreign spouses of Israeli citizens. According to the procedure of the Ministry of the Interior, an Israeli citizen can invite his wife / partner to Israel only by filling an invitation form at the MoI office closest to his place of residence. A person can certainly find himself in a romantic story of love and marriage abroad that turns into a horror show when the couple arrives in Israel and one of them encounters the shame, discomfort and waste of money due to deportation back to the country of origin.

Similarly, (legal) foreign workers in Israel are not allowed to invite relatives to Israel, whether for a visit or for family unification. Such relatives are also automatically deported, unless they have received a special entry permit in advance.

A previous illegal stay in Israel also leads to refusal of entry and deportation from Israel.

Transfer to the interrogation room:

You failed in the first step. You did not provide enough information, your responses were incoherent and aroused suspicion, you just seemed too nervous? At this point you are taken to an interrogation room and a border control officer begins to inspect your story more thoroughly. This is the point to call contacts in Israel, if the border control officer allows you to use a cell phone.

Things to remember at this stage:

A) Border control officials at Ben Gurion Airport and other ports of entry are legally entitled to arrest, investigate and deport foreign nationals entering Israel on the basis of reasonable suspicion. Ben-Gurion Airport is not a court, therefore border control employees are not required to “prove” anything to deport visitors from Israel. Even if an appeal comes before an Israeli court (which rarely happens), the court tends to favor border control in their understanding of “reasonable suspicion.” Only rarely will the Court of Appeals intervene in the discretion of the administrative authority and stop a process of deportation from Israel.

Therefore, it is HIGHLY recommended to cooperate with the interrogation – from answering questions to giving permission to inspect your belongings and copy certain documents on your phone (the intergorrator does NOT have the right to freely browse through your phone).

B) This is the stage where contacts in Israel can help. First of all, we need to emphasize the need to get in touch with your Israeli hosts before the plane lands, and ask them to be available by phone in the following hours. Israeli contacts can allay border control employees suspicions. Border control needs to know that the Israeli contacts are law-abiding citizens of Israel who do not import illegal workers on the one hand, and on the other hand, the Israeli citizens should make clear that they know the visitor, and that he has no reason or intention to stay in Israel beyond the visa’s validity.

In the past, an offer to deposit a bank guarantee – a sum of money that the state would take if the visitor did not leave the country before the visa expired – was considered an excellent way to persuade border control officials to allow the foreign visitor to enter Israel. But it is no longer a sure formula for success (and it is obvious that both sides, the Israelis and the visitor, must trust one another in order to deposit a bank guarantee).

Stage Three – Transition to Detention Facility and Beginning of Deportation Process:

According to Israeli law, deportees from Israel must be sent back to their original destination. Therefore, those who are refused entry to Israel wait until there is an available space on a flight back to the same destination – which can take less than a day, or even a week or more, depending on the destination and occupancy of the flights. During this period, the deportees are held in the “Facility for those denied entry”. Their belongings (including phones) are held until deportation. This is the last opportunity to contact a lawyer and ask for an injunction preventing deportation.

Help in preventing deportation from Israel – contact a lawyer:

A lawyer can apply to the appeals court under the Entry into Israel Law, 1952, in order to challenge the border control decision to deport the visitor from Israel.The Interior Ministry must explain its decisions in court, and possibly have the reversed. Those who come to visit first-degree relatives or work legally are often allowed to enter Israel after an appeal.Our office has assisted a number of clients with family reunification and common law marriage, allowing them to remain in Israel despite the threat of deportation.

On the other hand, tourists or casual visitors often find themselves in a Catch-22 situation. The Ministry of the Interior and the courts do not believe that anyone will be willing to invest a lot of time and money to enter Israel without a hidden motive. Rarely will a person whose only desire is to visit the Holy Land be able to successfully appeal a deportation order in court.

After arrest and deportation:

The deportee receives an automatic entry refusal to Israel for a period of 5-10 years. In practice, this extends to the rest of their life, or until a dramatic change of circumstances. Any attempt to enter Israel after these five-ten years have elapsed, will encounter severe suspicion of border control, based on the previous deportation. However, after deportation from Israel, an Israeli lawyer may help remove or shorten the period of entry ban.

Contact our law firm in Tel Aviv specializing in immigration issues to Israel, if you, a friend or a relative were arrested when entering Israel, and face deportation.

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