What is a Student Visa?
A student visa is considered to be a legal immigration document which allows foreign students to temporarily study in a certain country for a predetermined period of time. Israeli student visas are commonly used for institutions including accredited colleges, universities, seminaries or yeshivot, conservatories, along with other academic and language training programs. In Israel and in most countries, it is an obligation for future students to apply for student visas before beginning their academic journey in the new host country, provided they are accepted to obtain the legal document.
Who can apply for a student visa?
Firstly, one must be a non-Israeli citizen to apply for a student visa. This visa is equally referred to as an A/2 visa. An eligible candidate that can apply towards receiving a student visa is any foreign prospective student who is interested in studying in one of the prestigious universities in Israel, such as Tel Aviv University, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and University of Haifa, just to name a few options. In Israel, it is a requirement to show proof of enrollment, or of a spouse’s enrollment, in a recognized educational institution located in Israel for a minimum of 40 hours of learning per week. It is important to note that someone with Israeli parents cannot apply for a student visa. In this particular scenario, they qualify for Israeli citizenship and thus must apply for an Israeli passport.
How long does a student visa last?
Most students obtain an A/2 student visa, which is valid for one year at a time. It is also possible to acquire a multi-entry permit, or inter visa, which allows for the recipient to enter and exit the country without restriction over the duration of the validity of the student visa. The visa must be renewed for up to five years, but sometimes, if the prospective student is pursuing a higher-level degree, such as a PhD or a Master’s degree, he will be granted a visa that is valid for a longer period of time. However, keep in mind that being granted a student visa does not necessarily offer the same benefits and rights as citizenship does. For instance, no matter the length of the stay, with a student visa, it is not possible to work in Israel.
What does the application towards a student visa look like?
It is important to note that, in general, the application towards a student visa is usually done through the recognized academic institution within Israel, and that the visa holder is intended to be outside of the country during this filing process. Once the request is filed, the visa, if accepted, will be granted through the consulate or embassy in the resident country of the prospective student. If the application gets filed at the Misrad Hapanim, or the Ministry of Interior, they possess the right to either approve or disapprove of the application.
What documentation is needed in order to obtain a student visa?
Firstly, in order to be granted a student visa, one must make an appointment at the Israeli consulate or embassy to begin the application process. Upon submission of the application, one must present the following items; a completed student visa application form, two passport-style photographs, a passport that is valid for six months beyond the intended stay period, other travel documents including canceled or expired passports, proof of a flight booking, and of course, a letter of acceptance from the academic institution. It is also required to present a birth certificate, proof of payment of the visa, and any personal bank statements, proof of scholarship, and special accommodations that will demonstrate how the prospective student will be financially supporting themselves throughout their stay. Lastly, if a future student is under 18 years old, they are required to show their birth certificate notarized with an apostille stamp as well as a parental consent form signed in the presence of a notary or of another official representative. More specifically, if the parents are foreign and living abroad, they must sign at their nearby Israeli Consulate. If, however, the parents are presently in Israel, the signature will take place at the Misrad Hapanim. If neither of these options are relevant to the applicant, then they must appear at the Misrad Hapanim with an approval letter from their legal guardian(s).
How long will it take to obtain an A/2 visa?
Once the fees of the student visa have been paid and the appointment is finished, one should expect to obtain the visa in a minimum of five days. The Israeli authorities estimate that it should take between five to seven business days to process the request,
so it is important to book an appointment at the consulate well in advance of the trip to Israel to ensure proper entry into the country. It is equally important to keep in mind that before the Misrad Hapanim can grant a student visa, they perform a thorough examination on the applicant. This background check includes various aspects including potential illegal stay in Israel, any past criminal activity that might appear on their record, issues with security, and more. This information is collected by the bureau who networks with the police and security forces, any governmental data collectors, and other sources of the kind. Overall, the facts submitted by the applicant as well as their history and past findings are all accounted for during the student visa application process.
Is it possible to renew or extend my student visa in Israel?
If one decides to remain in Israel as a student for longer than the given period of time, there exists the option of renewing the A/2 visa upon special request. One must submit a visa renewal or extension application at the Misrad Hapanim, which is the Ministry of the Interior, filed by either the student or by the academic institution depending on their current location. The Misrad Hapanim deals with citizenship changes, obtaining Israel ID cards, Israeli passports, birth certificates, and, namely, visas. Services at the Misrad Hapanim are available through appointment and are located in Jerusalem only. Similar to the original student visa application, one must present an official letter of approval from the educational institution based on the previous academic year’s graduation. Additionally, one needs to submit extension forms, the current visa placed in their passport, two passport pictures, and a receipt showing the paid fees. The student visa is valid for renewal for up to five years, as long as the holder proves that he remains a student throughout his stay. Additionally, the spouse and children of a visa holder may receive and renew a visa, called the A/4 visa under the same conditions highlighted above. Just as with obtaining the original student visa, the application needs to be accepted. Once again, a background check is performed in order to determine the status of the applicant’s record in Israel. The Director of the Bureau of Immigration to Israel has the right to deny the application, and if this is the case, if the student is currently residing in Israel, they will be forced to leave the country within a period of 14 days. As always, it is advised to file an extension request ahead of time, to avoid staying in Israel after the visa expires. Illegally staying in Israel, that is, without a valid visa or by breaching the rules and regulations pertaining to visas, can lead to serious repercussions. For instance, one might be risking denial of entry into the State of Israel for up to ten years. Violation of the visa conditions can be working illegally while on the visa, for example.
What else should I be aware of throughout this process?
In order to avoid complications that could cost a future student with their visa, it is crucial to be aware of the following information. Firstly, in Israel, the laws regarding visas are quite strict. Specifically, those who overstay their visas are more likely to face serious repercussions. Some of these include visa suspension, possible deportation from Israel, and future refusal to enter into Israel. When completing the application form, and all forms in general, it is important to complete it carefully without error. This includes making sure the correct details are listed, without any typos or hurried mistakes, all to avoid future complications. It is also advised to bring along original copies and photocopies of all documents to your appointment for extra precaution. Certainly, do not attempt presenting false documentation or ID, seeing as the embassy will most likely detect the fraud and this can tarnish any future visa applications towards Israel. Lastly, be sure to arrive at your appointment in a timely fashion, because it is very complicated to reschedule another one at the Israel embassy.