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The Regulations for Re-Entry of Foreign Workers Into Israel (Legal Information)

Michael Decker
Michael Decker

Sergei m Vashkevich

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The foreign-worker population in Israel numbers tens of thousands of workers staying lawfully in Israel, many of whom wish to travel abroad for various reasons. It is very important to know that foreign workers who wish to leave Israel and subsequently return must first obtain a re-entry visa. If they do not, they will be refused entry upon their return. Unfortunately, many people are unaware of the severe consequences that foreign workers may encounter when leaving Israel without a permit. Below we explain about the permit and the procedure for handling requests to leave Israel.

Our law firm, which has branches in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, specializes in immigration to Israel and in providing a comprehensive legal solution to foreign workers and their Israeli employers. Our lawyers are very experienced in assisting foreign workers in various legal matters, from the very first stage of arranging the initial entry and work visas required for employing foreign workers and, subsequently, dealing regularly with all the other legal matters, including arranging the legal status of foreign workers, assisting with work contracts, and extending stays in Israel.

Re-entry of foreign workers

Re-Entry of Foreign Workers Into Israel—Only According to Special Regulations

According to recent data from the Population and Immigration Authority, the foreign-worker population in Israel numbers more than 100,000 individuals today, who come from around the world, especially Far Eastern and Eastern European countries. Most of the foreign workers in Israel are employed in the nursing field. Other main fields in which foreign workers are employed are construction, agriculture, manufacturing, restaurants, and hotels. There are also several thousand foreign experts who are employed in Israel due to their unique knowledge in specific areas.

Foreign workers from all branches of employment often need to leave Israel during their stay. Some wish to go visit their family, others need to arrange urgent official matters in their homeland, and so on. Whatever the reason is, the law stipulates that foreign workers must obtain a re-entry visa before leaving Israel. If a foreign worker leaves Israel without arranging to receive such a permit vis-à-vis the Israeli authorities, the worker may be refused entry upon their return.

This visa is granted according to special regulations stipulated by the Population and Immigration Authority. The purpose of the regulations is to handle re-entry visa requests by foreign workers who are lawfully staying in Israel and wish to leave for a vacation abroad or to visit their country of origin.

Unfortunately, many foreign workers, and even their employers, are not always aware of the need to receive a re-entry visa for the foreign workers to be allowed to return to Israel. Individuals who do not obtain a visa in advance may find themselves unable to return to Israel, and they may even receive sanctions such as being barred from entry for years or decades. Therefore, it is necessary to know what the regulations are, arrange a re-entry visa for foreign workers in advance, and, if necessary, use the help of a lawyer who specializes in immigration to Israel and can fully and properly take care of your request.

What Are the Requirements for Receiving a Re-Entry Visa to Israel, According to the Regulations?

The regulations have been updated several times since they were first put into place. The most recent version of the regulations requires foreign workers to physically arrive at their local Population Authority offices to apply for a re-entry permit. Foreign nursing workers must arrive with the nursing patient who employs them or with a relative of the nursing patient.

Foreign workers in other fields of employment are not required to come with their employer, but they must present a letter by their employer approving their exit and re-entry into Israel and their subsequent continued employment in Israel. The letter must include the reason for leaving Israel and the planned exit and re-entry dates.

Besides the letter of approval (or presence of the employer, in the case of nursing workers), the foreign worker must fill out an AS1 request form (downloadable here). The regulations stipulate a list of additional documents that must be presented when filing the application. These include, inter alia, a passport valid for at least one year from the date of departure, a permit to stay in Israel (usually a B1 visa granted to foreign workers), and an up-to-date passport photo. If the worker’s stay visa is valid for less than 90 days, their matter will be decided by the population office manager.

How Is the Application Examined After It Is Filed?

After submitting the application and the accompanying documents, the application is examined by the population officials. As stated above, if the foreign worker’s stay visa is valid for less than 90 days from the date of application, the application will be examined by the population office manager. Although the population officials are authorized to provide a substitute worker for employers of foreign nursing workers when these workers are out of the country, providing such a substitute worker does not constitute a condition for approving the foreign worker’s request to leave the country. If the request is approved, a re-entry visa (referred to as an inter-visa) will be issued for the foreign worker and put into their passport. If the request is denied, the foreign worker will be notified about the denial.

What Are the Rules for Leaving Israel Once Approval Is Received?

Re-entry visas are generally only valid for one back-and-forth flight. This means that the visa may only be used to leave Israel once. To leave Israel a second time, the whole process must be started over. In addition, according to Section 3 of the regulations, except in rare cases, the visa will be valid for 90 days at most, which will be included in the 63-month period that foreign workers are allowed to lawfully stay in Israel.

What Can You Do If Your Request Is Refused?

The regulations allow population officials who examine the re-entry request to deny it, for any reason. Although the request is generally approved and the foreign workers are allowed to leave Israel and subsequently return, it is important to know what you can do if your request is denied. First of all, you can appeal the decision—there exist special regulations for internal appeals. These appeal regulations stipulate that the appeal must be filed immediately, and no later than 21 days after the decision. The appeal must be filed at the Population Authority offices where the application was submitted.

If the appeal is rejected, an external appeal may be filed with the appeals court under the Entry Into Israel law. In this case, too, it is important to act quickly, since the law stipulates that the appeal may only be submitted within 30 days of the decision that is being appealed. The appeals court will discuss the decision and decide whether to accept the appeal, which will allow the foreign worker to receive a re-entry visa to Israel, or reject the appeal. The court is also authorized to decide that the Population Authority must re-examine the application.

Can the Rejection of the Application Be Further Appealed at Court?

Yes. It is possible to file an administrative appeal against an appeals court decision if your appeal is rejected. This appeal must be filed with the court for administrative matters. Note that, in some cases, although the formal regulations do not allow re-entry into Israel, the court may deviate from the regulations and allow re-entry. For example, in a recent case, the court for administrative matters accepted the appeal of a nursing patient and her foreign worker in the matter and decided to allow the foreign worker to re-enter Israel.

The ruling, which was given in May 2021, dealt with a Moldovan foreign nursing worker who stayed in Israel from 2015 for five years, nursing a patient who was in her 80s. The patient suffered from severe sickness and advanced Alzheimer’s disease. Despite the fact that the worker left Israel and apparently finished working for the nursing patient, a request was submitted to allow her to return to Israel and continue nursing the patient. The reason was that no other worker was found to replace her, due to the lack of nursing workers in Israel following the COVID-19 pandemic, among other factors.

The court ruled that this case could be considered exceptional and, although the request did not meet the formal requirements, humane concerns and the general situation required deviating from the normal regulations and allowing the worker to re-enter Israel and continue nursing the patient who employed her.

This ruling is one of the complex cases in which the help of the court is needed, which bases its rulings on pure justice in response to the issue at hand. The ruling shows that there may be cases in which, although the Population Authority refuses to allow re-entry into Israel, it is possible to go to court for a solution, even in cases that deviate from the standard regulations.

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In this article, an immigration lawyer from our firm has explained about the regulations for re-entry of foreign workers into Israel. For any questions you may have or assistance you may need, you are welcome to contact a lawyer from our firm. We specialize in immigration, and our lawyers have extensive legal experience in issues relating to foreign workers. We will gladly provide you with a comprehensive legal solution on this matter and any other issue. You can contact a lawyer from our offices via the phone numbers and email address listed below.

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