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Immigration and Relocation to Israel

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Dotan Cohen Law Offices helps clients who wish to immigrate and relocate to Israel, whether for a short stay as tourists or for a permanent relocation. The State of Israel has different requirements for each type of visitor, namely, tourists, students, workers, and those wishing to permanently relocate to Israel.

Work Visas

Those wishing to work in Israel must apply for a B-1 Work Visa. There are several kinds of B-1 Visas depending upon the required profession (academic/non- academic), the period for which the visa is requested for (in general, the visa period may vary from 45 days to 3 months and up to one year), and its purpose.

  • The Foreign Expert Visa is for experts with special expertise and knowledge, and is usually granted for one year. This visa can be extended for a total of five years and three months, and in rare cases, can be extended for an even longer period of time. This visa requires that the B-1 visa holder’s salary be at least twice the Israeli average salary.
  • There are other types of B-1 visas for specific industries such as visas for Arline or Shipping Companies, Academic Instructors or Researchers, Medical Employees, Artists, foreign journalists, and senior executive of an international organization.
  • The B-1 visa can also be issued to those who are eligible under Law of Return (see below) but who would prefer to receive a work visa instead of immigrating. Also, the spouse or partner of an Israeli citizen (whether married or not) may apply for a work visa, which allows the non-Israeli partner to work in Israel during the course of the relationship.

The Process for the 45-day work visa:

  1. Collecting Documents (usually we give out the list of documents after our clients sign our fee agreement and issue a PO).
  2. Submitting the application to the WPU (Work Permit Unit) This takes approximately 2-3 business days from the day we receive all of the documents.
  3. A decision on the case is given within 6 working days by the WPU.
  4. After issuing the work permit, the foreign employee needs to enter Israel through Ben Gurion Airport, according to the dates specified in the work permit. The foreign employee will be allowed to work immediately when he enters Israel, even without having the work visa stamped in his/her passport.
  5. Attending a non-scheduled meeting with the MOI (Ministry of Interior) no later than 2 business days after arrival to Israel, to issue the work visa and stamp it on the passport.

If the employee didn’t use the entire 45 days and needs to enter Israel again for work purposes on the same calendar year, then we may apply for a NEW work permit and start the process from step 1. The work permit that may be given will only be for the number of days left from the previous 45-day work visa, as this visa allows for ONLY 45 days of work in Israel during 1 calendar year.

Visitor Visas

Those wishing to visit Israel must obtain a B-2 Visa. If the visitor comes from a visa-exempt country, such as the United States, and most European and South American countries, the visitor will be exempt from the need to issue a visa, and will usually receive a B-2 Visa upon his arrival to Israel (subject to the discretion of the border control, of course). However, if the visitor is not from a visa-exempt country, the visitor must apply for a B-2 Visa in advance. In order to apply for the B-2 Visa, the visitor must complete the visa application form, provide a passport that is valid for at least six month and a photocopy of the passport, two passport pictures, proof that the visitor has sufficient financial means for his/her time in Israel, round trip airline tickets to and from Israel, and payment of the visa fee. The B-2 Visa is valid for up to three months; however, the visitor may apply to extend his/her stay. The holder of a B-2 Visa may not work or study in Israel.

Spouses/Partners

Israeli law allows an Israeli citizen to apply for a work visa for his/her non-Israeli-spouse or partner, permanent residence, and ultimately citizenship. The Israeli partner must submit an application containing evidence which proves to the Ministry of Interior (“MOI”) that the marital relationship or partnership is bona fide and honest. Upon submission of the application, the MOI interviews the couple and determines whether the couple’s relationship is honest and sincere. If the MOI is satisfied that the couple have a bona fide relationship, the application is approved and the non-Israeli partner receives a B1 visa for one year which can be extended for up to 3 years. After 3 years, provided there are no impediments relating to the honesty of the relationship, criminal record, etc., the non- Israeli partner may receive a temporary residence A-5 visa for a period of one year. The A-5 visa can be extended for up to a total of four years. At the end of the four-year period, if the couple are still together and there are no other impediments, the non-Israeli partner can apply for citizenship.

Law of Return

Israel’s Law of Return generally gives Jews the right to live and settle in Israel (make Aliyah). However, Jews who are engaged in activity directed against the Jewish people, or likely to endanger the public health or the security of Israel, or who have a criminal past and are likely to endanger the public welfare are excepted from the right to immigrate to Israel. The Law of Return also allows certain non-Jewish family members of Jews to immigrate. Specifically, the child or grandchild of someone Jewish can immigrate, as can the spouse of someone Jewish and the spouse’s child and grandchild. As an alternative to immigrating to Israel, those eligible under the Law of Return can apply for an A-1 Visa, a temporary residence visa, which allows individuals to experience Israel before making the commitment of becoming Israeli citizens. The A-1 visa also allows individuals to work without having to obtain a separate work visa.

Student Visas

Those wishing to study in Israel must apply for an A-2 Visa. This visa is granted only to students of institutions recognized by Israel, such as Yeshiva studies or Jewish Agency programs. In order to apply for the A-2 Visa, the applicant must complete the visa application form, pay the required visa fee, and provide the following documents: passport valid for at least one year, original birth certificate, two passport pictures, a signed letter of acceptance from the educational institution, and proof of sufficient funds for the applicant’s stay in Israel.