Written by: Chloe Smeader
In 1950 when Israel was a brand new country, the Law of Return was set in place. This law guaranteed every Jew (but for a few exceptions) the right to immigrate to Israel and become an Israeli citizen. At this time in history, the Jewish people were searching for a homeland that would be safe and accessible to all. During World War II, barely any countries were willing to accept and protect Jewish refugees from persecution. Due to this catastrophe, creating a Jewish State was crucial to ensure the Jewish people would always have a country that would accept them. This law was established and is unique because Israel is a nation-state of the Jewish people. The new Israeli government aimed to abolish all restrictions on Jewish immigration with the law of return and wanted to ensure that Jews of any denomination, race, and age could return to Israel. Considering you qualify to immigrate to the country, there is a process called Aliyah that every Jewish person wishing for citizenship must go through. Many requirements need to be fulfilled, but the process is manageable with the help of many Jewish organizations.
Who is eligible to make Aliyah?
There is a lot of debate over who is allowed to make Aliyah because everyone has a different interpretation of what it means to be Jewish. Usually, people allowed to immigrate include; Jews (as defined by the Law of Return), their children, grandchildren, and spouses, A person born outside of Israel to at least one Israeli parent who is themselves, not an Israeli citizen born abroad, and A person who was either born or lived in Israel, and left Israel with both parents before the age of fourteen, and wishes to return at the age of at least seventeen, after having spent at least four years outside of Israel.
The beginning of the Aliyah process:
About 8 to 10 months before your desired arrival date, you should begin your Aliyah paperwork by completing the application. The first step is to collect all the proper documents, including a valid passport, birth certificate, marital status certificate, proof of Judaism, official passport picture, police background check, photograph of family members making Aliyah, and Ministry of Interior application. You will also need to contact a local representative of the Jewish agency. They will help facilitate setting up an interview with the Jewish agency. There are specific criteria made by the Israeli government that you need to fit in order to have approval to make Aliyah.
What documents should you obtain?
The process and time frame are different for every person because of the vast differences between everyone’s individual circumstances. The Ministry of Interior needs to ensure that there is proof of one’s Jewish heritage through both religious and civil documents. Examples of religious documents include a bar or bat mitzvah certificate, wedding certificate, parents’ or grandparents’ proof of burial in a Jewish cemetery, or membership in a synagogue. In addition, you are expected to acquire a letter from a Rabbi verifying your Jewishness. Civil documents include a passport, birth certificate, and any other documentation indicating your connection to a Jewish parent or grandparent. These documents are necessary in order for the Ministry of Interior to know that you are a religious observing Jew; documents of ancestry do not always ensure this. Another important document to acquire is a police background check (FBI for American citizens) that proves you do not have a criminal background and are not a danger to Israel. An apostille must authenticate all of these documents in order for your status to be approved.
What to do after you have been accepted?
After successfully completing all the necessary paperwork, receiving approval for your status, and finalizing your housing arrangements, the next significant step on your path to becoming an Israeli citizen is to schedule your complimentary one-way flight to Israel. Upon your arrival in Israel, it is crucial to utilize a range of services provided by Nefesh B’Nefesh. This organization offers support across various crucial areas, including employment opportunities, housing assistance, educational guidance, social events, Hebrew language learning programs, and more. Their resources are tailored to meet the unique needs of new immigrants, ensuring a smooth and successful transition into Israeli society. There are a few agencies there to support and guide you through your move to Israel.
Benefits of making Aliyah:
Once you acquire Israeli citizenship, a whole array of significant advantages awaits you, opening up a world of opportunities and privileges. One of the key benefits is the legal authorization to work and enjoy access to quality healthcare services, ensuring your professional and personal well-being. Moreover, as an Israeli citizen, you become eligible for rental assistance for a period of up to five years, providing much-needed support in securing comfortable accommodation for yourself. In addition to these substantial advantages, the perks of Israeli citizenship extend further, encompassing various smaller-scale benefits that contribute to a more convenient transition. For instance, you will have the opportunity to attend free Hebrew classes to enhance your linguistic abilities. Upon arrival in Israel, you will conveniently be given complimentary transportation services from the airport, discounts on public transportation, customs exemptions, the ability to begin an education with a local University, and even an income tax reduction on money accrued in Israel.
Factors that can affect your ability to make Aliyah:
Although, making Aliyah is a process open to many Jewish people, some factors can affect obtaining citizenship. First, having a criminal background can cause a lot of speculation when immigrating to Israel. Other factors that may cause immigration difficulty include; affiliation with a religion other than Judaism, possessing a contagious disease, and also having mental health issues. Another aspect that is preventative is not being able to quire the proper documentation. Still, our law offices have plenty of experience and can help you with most problems you encounter during the Aliyah process.
The process of immigrating to Israel is rewarding, and there are plenty of resources to give you support and help you settle into your new home easily.
If you have any questions regarding the requirements needed in order to make Aliyah, please do not hesitate to contact either our Jerusalem or Tel Aviv offices for more legal aid and advice.