Entrance to Israel for Ukrainians due to the War with Russia — 2022
How do Ukrainians enter Israel since the beginning of the war? Israel’s immigration authorities are issuing almost daily updates to the policy for Ukrainians entering Israel, due to the Ukrainian refugees arriving in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. As of March 2022, those eligible for aliya, and their families, can come to Israel via an accelerated process. A relative who is not eligible for aliya requires an invitation by an Israeli. It is also possibly to invite Ukrainians who are not relatives, subject to a formal invitation procedure. If you need help in depositing a guarantee or are experiencing difficulties with the aliya process, contact us for legal assistance.
A certain sector of Israeli society, particularly those from the CIS, supports unrestricted entrance to Israel for any Ukrainian seeking asylum in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. This desire has moral and historical justification, but it is unreasonable to expect that Israel would open its gates to everyone seeking asylum. Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked, who is responsible for the immigration policy, has already expressed the opinion that Israel cannot absorb unlimited numbers of Ukrainian refugees. The consolidation of a policy on entrance to Israel for Ukrainian citizens is a sort of compromise which enables Ukrainian citizens with Jewish roots to find refuge in Israel without bureaucratic foot-dragging, and also enables Israeli citizens to invite friends and relatives not eligible for aliya to stay in Israel temporarily.
Our law offices specialize in aliya, immigration, and visas and entrance to Israel. A previous article on our site explained the issue of asylum seekers, tourists, and foreign workers from Ukraine who are permitted to stay in Israel even though their visas expired. In this article we explain the conditions under which Ukrainians can enter Israel, whether they are eligible for aliya for themselves and their families or whether they are invited by an Israeli citizen or resident.
It is important to emphasize that anyone entering Israel – olim and their family members, or those receiving a tourist visa — are required to undergo a Corona test before boarding the plane and after it lands. In certain cases the requirement for a pre-flight test is waived for someone fleeing the Ukraine, but the requirement to undergo the test (at a cost of 120 ILS) before entering Israel has not changed. Anyone found to be positive must go into quarantine in a motel at his or her own expense for a minimum of 5 days, and then until a negative result is obtained.
Accelerated aliya process for Ukrainians and Russians
The Interior Minister, Ayelet Shaked, announced that those eligible for aliya from Ukraine and Russia can make aliya to Israel via an accelerated process, which exempts them from the requirement to present a certificate of good conduct or to obtain an apostille on documents before beginning the process.
In addition, since many Ukrainian men are required to enlist in the army in order to fight the Russian invasion, spouses and children of those eligible for aliya can make aliya to Israel while the husband remains in Ukraine. Even in terrible cases when the person eligible for aliya is killed in the fighting, the widow/widower can make aliya with their minor children.
Those with Jewish roots who never initiated the aliya process or proved their eligibility for aliya in the past, are evaluated by “Nativ” when they arrive in Israel. Note that according to the Law of Return, those eligible for aliya to Israel include Jews, children of Jews, grandchildren of Jews (of course any child with a Jewish mother is a Jew himself or herself), spouses of those eligible for aliya, and finally, minor children of someone eligible for aliya or the spouse of someone eligible for aliya. Thus, for example, minor children of a grandchild of a Jew are eligible to make aliya with their family, but not as adults.
But what about someone who is not eligible for “return” and lacks Jewish roots? They can also enter Israel under the following conditions:
Inviting Ukrainian relatives to Israel:
Someone who is not eligible for aliya himself or herself, but has a first-degree relative who is Israeli, can come to Israel and obtain a tourist visa. Their entrance to the country is subject to the Israeli relative’s official guarantee that the newcomer does not intend to settle in Israel – to seek asylum or apply for any other status – and that he or she will leave when the war ends. This is the required solution, for example, for someone who obtained Israeli citizenship as the spouse of an Israeli, but whose parents have no Jewish roots and are not eligible for aliya. Under normal circumstances, in such a case, only one parent can come to Israel – after the death of the other parent, and under the condition that the parent does not have any other children living outside of Israel. If they are invited to Israel, the parents do not have to endure the horrors of the war in Ukraine, and can stay in Israel until it is over. It is also possible to invite siblings and adult children from previous marriages.
In the invitation process, the behavior of the Israeli citizen and the invitee will be taken into consideration – attempts to settle or applications for asylum in Israel, age differences, etc. If the Interior Ministry officials decide that there is a reasonable chance that the invitee will try to work illegally or remain in Israeli on an expired visa, the invitee may be asked to deposit a surety with the Interior Ministry, which will be confiscated in the case of his or her inappropriate behavior.
The spouse and children of an Israeli citizen, if they have not received citizenship themselves or are in the process of obtaining legal status for a foreign spouse, can enter Israel as tourists on presentation of a marriage license/birth certificates of the children. Children of a foreign spouse from a previous marriage must obtain permission of the other parent during their stay in Israel, if it was not obtained before they entered Israel.
It is reasonable to assume that the unmarried partner of an Israeli citizen is also eligible to enter Israel as a tourist, but the assistance of an immigration lawyer may be required to clarify the eligibility. Interior Ministry regulations state that each case shall be examined on its own merits, and the Interior Ministry will consider requiring the deposit of a bank guarantee at Ben Gurion Airport.
Inviting Ukrainian citizens who are not relatives of the person inviting them
Anyo Israeli who wishes to invite a Ukranian individual family to Israel must sign an invitation form on the Ministry of Interior website, confirming their obligation to provide a residence and compensate the general expenses of the invitee. The Ukranian invitee has to fill out a request form and attach the Israeli inviter’s approved invitation.
If the invited person has been previously refused entry or attempted to settle in Israel, their entry may be refused, or the Israeli may be required to guarantee for the Ministry of Interior, at 10,000 ILS per invitee, to be deposited at the Population Authority stand at Terminal 3 in the Ben Gurion Airport.
Ukrainians who are not invited by an Israeli and not eligible for aliya can enter Israel as tourists, but only as long as they are not suspected of wanting to settle in Israel. Of course as the number of asylum seekers entering as tourists increases, the number of those denied entrance will also increase.
Bringing in cats and dogs of olim and Israeli residents
Of course one must not forget the most helpless family members that refugees bring with them. In normal circumstances, pets must obtain a license in advance before entering Israel. Since many families are forced to come to Israel under emergency conditions, bringing only what they managed to take in a car or carry themselves, any document certifying that the animal received a rabies shot is taken to be adequate. If no such document is available, the pet will be placed in quarantine and will be required to get a rabies vaccination.
If you need assistance in depositing a guarantee with the Interior Ministry in order to bring a Ukrainian into Israel, or you have run into difficulties in the aliya process, we are at your service. Contact us to get help from an immigration attorney in Jerusalem or Tel Aviv with experience in dealing with entering Israel and obtaining legal status.