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What Rights Do You Lose If You Do Not Make Aliyah?

Michael Decker
Michael Decker

Individuals who are eligible to make Aliyah (immigrate to Israel under the Law of Return) enjoy a whole host of rights and benefits, which are intended to encourage Aliyah among Jews and their descendants. However, these rights and benefits are the result of a policy that may change in the future. Various legislative initiatives may lead to the shortening of the list of rights and, for some individuals, even to the loss of eligibility to make Aliyah. We are often asked by our clients what rights they risk losing if they do not make Aliyah. This article discusses the matter in detail.

Our law firm, which has branches in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, specializes in immigration to Israel. We have more than 30 years of experience in immigration law. The lawyers at our offices provide legal assistance in matters such as requests to make Aliyah under the Law of Return, exercising the rights of new olim (individuals who make Aliyah to Israel), and arranging the Israeli legal status of new olim and spouses of Israelis.

Loss of Aliyah rights

Why Are More Eligible Individuals Making Aliyah But, Nevertheless, Many Others Choose to Wait With the Decision?

There has recently been a sharp rise in the number or olim. There are many reasons for this, some prominent of which are the unstable security situation for Jews in various countries around the world (especially Western Europe and the United States), economic crises that have become more severe due to the coronavirus pandemic, and the increase in the activity for encouraging Aliyah. These reasons and others bring many Jews and eligible individuals to exercise the right to make Aliyah. Those who do so are entitled to many state benefits, which are intended to make the natural hardships in the integration process simpler and encourage eligible immigrants to move to Israel.

However, many Jews and eligible individuals prefer to wait with the decision to make Aliyah, for various reasons. Some wait to see how things will turn out for them, considering the very unstable economic and personal situation these days. Others wait to see how friends and family who have already made Aliyah acclimate in Israel before deciding whether this a good choice for them, as well. Moreover, many individuals who are eligible to make Aliyah manage businesses abroad and, therefore, examine business opportunities in Israel cautiously from overseas. They may do this by registering a representative office of their company in Israel for market research purposes.

Importantly, although one if Israel’s founding principles is to be a national home for Jews from all corners of the earth, this does not necessarily mean that all eligible individuals today will remain so in the future. As of late, we are witnessing legislative initiatives and calls to amend the Law of Return and decrease the number of those entitled to make Aliyah. In addition, for economic and other reasons, the list of benefits for olim may become shorter. Accordingly, those who are waiting to make Aliyah may lose many benefits that they could have received if they immigrated today. Below we explain about the rights of eligible immigrants under the Law of Return and discuss the possible future changes to these rights.

What Benefits Do Olim Have Today?

Those who make Aliyah today are entitled to many benefits, although they may not always be aware of this. These benefits include financial assistance, referred to as the Absorption Basket. This significant benefit is given to anyone who comes to Israel for the first time with the intention to immigrate under the Law of Return. The Absorption Basket covers living expenses for six months—the duration of ulpan (Hebrew language studies for olim). The basket also includes income support and subsistence allowance. A detailed explanation about the rights of new olim, as well as the obstacles in finding out what these rights are and exercising them, can be found in another article published on our website.

Another type of rights granted to new olim is tax relief such as in the adjustment and acclimation year. In effect, this is a period that allows investors abroad to examine the option of settling in Israel, without needing to pay full taxes on their investments to the Israeli government during the examination period. Also, olim receive additional tax exemptions and discounts on the purchase of cars and the import of personal belongings.

Besides the general benefits that are granted to olim, there are also age-specific benefits. Minor olim and lone soldiers, for example, may be entitled to assistance with academic studies, rent, employment, income support, and more. Naturally, individuals who do not exercise their right for Aliyah when they are young will probably lose the rights granted at this stage of life. Moreover, the general assortment of rights may change in the future. This is elaborated upon below.

Possible Changes to the Legislation

Recently, suggestions for amending the current legislation have been proposed regarding immigration to Israel, in general, and eligibility for Aliyah, in particular. A prominent recent proposal in this context suggests limiting the Law of Return by eliminating the section that allows grandchildren of Jews today to enjoy all the benefits of an oleh. Besides these legislative initiatives, as well as public demands to change the existing legal situation, court interventions take place in extreme particular cases. An example of this is HCJ case 3820/10 Zeev Isaacs V. The Ministry of Interior (14.10.15), in which the Supreme Court ruled that the descendant of a Jew who has willingly converted to another religion is not eligible to make Aliyah.

The initiatives to amend the legislation, and the court rulings mentioned above, illustrate how fragile the situation is regarding the rights of olim today. There is no knowing if, several years ahead, all eligible immigrants under the Law of Return will still be able to exercise their right. In addition, it is uncertain whether future eligible immigrants under the Law of Return will receive the same broad basket of benefits as they would today. Accordingly, it is important for those who wish to make Aliyah to consider exercising their right soon, since the right to make Aliyah and the benefits that olim receive today are not necessarily here to stay.

Contact an Immigration Lawyer for Advice About Making Aliyah and Exercising the Rights of New Olim

In summary, those who choose not to make Aliyah may lose many rights in the future. If you are considering whether or not and when to make Aliyah, or if you have already made Aliyah and have questions about exercising your rights, you are welcome to contact us and we will be happy to help. The lawyers at our firm are experienced in legal representation of new olim before the state authorities and courts for the purpose of exercising the right to make Aliyah and enjoy the benefits of olim. You can contact us via the phone numbers or email address listed below.

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