Immigration from France to Israel – legal and practical information
In this article an Israeli immigration lawyer will elaborate on the topic of Immigration from France to Israel. This issue has a long history, with both countries seeing significant movement of people in both directions, from the establishment of the modern state of Israel and until today.
Who is eligible? How are applications submitted and what documents necessary? What can be done to strengthen chances of applications success? Read more to find out.
In the early 20th century, Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe and Russia began to settle in France, particularly in Paris. As of today, the estimates state there are about 440,000 Jews living in France, many of whom have roots in the former French colonies of Algeria, Morocco, and Tunisia.
There are also Israelis who moved to France and settled there, based on French family heritage, or marriage to French citizens.
In 1948, with the establishment of the State of Israel, many Jews in France immigrated to Israel as part of the Aliyah (immigration according to the Law of Return) movement. In the years following the establishment of the State of Israel, more than 90,000 French Jews immigrated to Israel.
The local Israeli French Jewish community has been growing in recent years, with a significant number of French Jews immigrating to Israel. Also, many French Jews are buying property in Israel, without moving permanently to Israel, in an apparent bid to make future immigration easier.
Israeli cities that have seen many French Jews buy real estate are Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Natanya, Eilat, Ashdod, Ashkelon and more.
Why are French Jews immigrating to Israel?
What are the reasons for French Jews to leave a developed European country and move to the Middle East? We hear clients tell us about growing anti-Semitism in France and difficulty to keep Jewish rituals and display their Jewish identity in the open public.
Young French Jews seeking a future in Israel, where they don’t need to feel threatened because of their religion, wish to make Aliyah to Israel and contribute to building the Zionist state.
Immigration from France to Israel: How to make Aliyah?
Aliyah to Israel as a Jew from France is not difficult. However, in order to make the application process as fast and easy as possible it’s important to know the law and when to use professional assistance. Our attorneys specialize in Israeli immigration law and can help with a variety of issues related to entering and remaining in Israel.
To be eligible to immigrate to Israel from France, individuals can fall under different categories such as:
Eligibility under the Law of Return – 1950 for immigration of Olim to Israel. This includes Jews, along with their spouses, children, and grandchildren and their family. This is the easiest way to immigrate to Israel, and those eligible will also be able to receive help in the process. Each year several thousand of French citizns choose to make Aliyah to Israel.
Ezrachim Olim, which concerns an individual born in a foreign country with at least one parent who is Israeli. These are Israeli citizens by birth, or Israelis who have been living abroad for extensive periods of time, who move back to Israel.
Katinim Chozrim or returning minors, which are children who were either born in Israel or lived there and later, departed the country with their parents. They must have left the country before the age of 14 and at the time of making Aliyah, they must be at least 17 years old. They should also have lived abroad for a minimum of four years.
What documents are required?
When applying to immigrate to Israel from France, there are several documents that must be submitted as part of the application process. These include both civil documents and religious documents indicating Jewish ancestry and the lack of criminal history of the applicants. Some important documents to submit include:
- Documents indicating Jewish connection such as a letter from a Beth din or Rabbi, synagogue membership certificate, bat mitzvah certificate, marriage licenses, records of funerals, or conversion papers. In France Jews can get a certificate indicating that they are part of the Jewish community, which is recognized for purposes of Aliyah.
- Civil documents such as birth certificates, passports, and any documents related to marriage, divorce or death, id necessary to prove family heritage.
- It is important to note that all civil documents submitted during the Aliyah process need an apostille certification and also translation to Hebrew by an Israeli Notary Public who speaks French.
Israeli citizenship based on marriage
Immigrating to Israel is also available as a spouse (or un-married partner) of an Israeli citizen or permanent resident. This allows living with the foreign spouse in Israel, and after a process of 5-7 years the foreigner can also receive permanent residency status or Israeli citizenship.
The Israeli immigration office will check each year that the couple are together, living in Israel and don’t have any problems, such as criminal activity, that can hinder the application.
Immigration to Israel for non – Jewish parents of Israelis
Israeli immigration laws developed in order to prevent separating non Jewish foreign parents (who are not eligible for immigration based on Aliyah) from their Israeli children. This includes elderly lonely parents, who are living outside of Israel with no spouse or child to take care for them.
Also, parents of an IDF (Israel Defense Forces) soldier who is serving in the Israeli military are granted the legal right to move to Israel and live close to their child.
What visas to Israel are available for French nationals?
There are various types of visas available for foreign citizens according to Israeli immigration law. French nationals don’t have any special visa category. However, France together with the EU countries, USA and many of the Western countries is considered a visa–free country.
This means that French passport holders, don’t need to obtain a visa to Israel in advance, rather they are issued a visa upon arrival to Israel.
These visas don’t grant long term immigration opportunity, but may allow the visa holders to reside in Israel for several years. These visa programs include:
A/1 Temporary Resident Visa: This visa is intended for those who wish to immigrate to Israel in accordance with the Law of Return, and is only available to those who are eligible for Aliyah and wish to reside in Israel before becoming a citizen. This allows the applicant to work and study in Israel, but doesn’t the A-1 visa applicant is not obligated to join the IDF.
B/2 Visitor’s Visa: This visa is intended for foreign nationals who want to spend a short time in Israel, including as a visitor, tourist, or business person attending a meeting or conference. B/2 Visitor visas do not allow holders to work in Israel.
A/2 Student Visa: This type of visa is designed for foreign nationals who wish to study at an academic institutions, Yeshivot, and youth institutions of the Jewish Agency in Israel. It is typically granted for up to 12 months each time, but can be extended for the duration of the program. The student visa does not allow holders to work while studying in Israel.
A/3 Clergy Visa: This visa grants permission for clergy members to enter and carry out their duties among their religious communities in Israel. To be granted an A/3 Clergy visa, applicants must first be invited by a recognized religious institution in Israel.
A/4 visa for family members: This visa is granted to the spouses and children of recipients of A/2 or A/3 visas.
B/1 Work Visa: This visa is specifically for foreign nationals who wish to work in Israel for a limited period of time. It is open to specialists with outstanding skills, executives of foreign companies who are opening a branch, or doing business in Israel and artists in their respective fields, and applications can only be approved by the Ministry of the Interior.
How long does it take to obtain a visa to Israel?
The time it takes to obtain a visa for immigration to Israel can vary depending on the type of visa, the individual’s circumstances, and the processing time at the specific office. Obviously a tourist visa is issued on the spot, while entering the country at the border crossing.
However, any visa that is more complicated might take several weeks, or even several months to obtain. Therefore, we recommend to start the visa process well ahead of the time you wish to move to Israel.
Israeli immigration lawyer at you service
Are you planning on immigrating to Israel from France but not sure where to start? Contact us today, our law firm specializes in Israeli immigration law and can guide you through the process every step of the way, from filing the application, to obtaining the necessary visa.
Let us help you navigate the immigration process with ease. Don’t wait; schedule a consultation with one of our experienced attorneys today.