Immigration from Ukraine to Israel
At least 60,000 Ukrainians have arrived in Israel since February 2022, following the Russian invasion of Ukraine. This number of immigrants is double that which reached Israel in 2021, according to Israel’s Immigration and Absorption Ministry.
A few weekly immigration flights have now turned into at least one immigration flight per day, with each bringing about 150 immigrants to Israel. With the current exodus from Ukraine, Israel is looking at hundreds of new immigrants on a daily basis. Thousands more of Ukrainians are expected to arrive in Israel in the months ahead.
The war conditions are making immigration overwhelming for aspiring immigrants from Ukraine to Israel, with different laws for Jewish and non-Jewish refugees.
Our law office specializes in Aliyah and immigration to Israel. In this article, we look at some of the fastest and less complicated ways to reach Israel from Ukraine.
What is the history of Aliyah?
Ukrainians seeking refuge in Israel can use different methods to immigrate. One way is to seek Aliyah to Israel.
Aliyah, in Hebrew, means “elevation”. In the immigration context, Aliyah refers to the emigration to Israel of Jews and their family members (spouses, children, grandchildren). As the sanctuary for Jews worldwide, Israel operates on this fundamental principle of serving as a safe haven for Jews. Those who make Aliyah are referred to as Olim, singular Oleh.
Formed in 1948, Israel is no stranger to the mass influx of Jews from around the world, known as “Aliyah waves”. Jews from Europe – Holocaust survivors – found a new home in Israel shortly after its independence. Other immigration waves included most Middle Eastern Jews, forced to leave their countries after the establishment of Israel, and the poor Jewish population from South America and North Africa.
Who made Aliyah to Israel from Soviet Union countries?
The next Aliyah wave of comparable size was between 1990 and 1996, when over 600,000 Jews reached Israel from the former USSR. During the period from 1990 to 1998, nearly 900,000 immigrants were added to the Israeli population. This resulted in a 19.3% population growth rate. Russian-speaking immigrants in Israel form 10% of the population in the country today.
The dire political and economic situation after to collapse of the Soviet Block is believed to have been the reason for this mass exodus in the ‘90s. In addition to economic and political reasons for leaving the former USSR, ideological reasons and the desire to belong in a country that welcomed Jews drew many Russian and Ukrainian Jews to “their” Israel.
Immigration to Israel after the 2022 war
The most recent increase in immigration can be attributed to the invasion of Ukraine by Russia. Over one-half of the immigrants seen in Israel are from Russia while one-fifth of them belong to Ukraine. Ukrainians are fleeing the Russian invasion, but many prefer to find a new home in the surrounding Eastern European countries. Russians are moving to Israel to avoid being drafted into the war effort and the declining economic situation in Russia following imposed sanctions.
In addition to serving as an asylum from the war, there are other reasons to move to Israel:
- Positive job market. In 2022, Israel saw an increase in employment, with unemployment rate low and stable across the country. The manufacturing, healthcare, education, and tech industries dominate the job market.
- Stable economy. Israel has a free-market system that is well-developed. The major sectors contributing to the country’s economy include technology, diamond cutting & polishing, and manufacturing. The country’s GDP is expected to increase to $611.8 billion through 2026.
- Maximum safety for immigrants. Israel has a strong defense system well-prepared to meet any emergency. Security shelters are available in apartments and residential buildings. Borders stay protected. There is an Iron Dome system that shields residents from sky attacks.
- Serves as an immigrant-friendly host nation. The Immigrant Absorption ministry helps provide benefits for Olim, such as language tutorship, help finding employment and subsidized housing. Immigrants can familiarize themselves with their new country while enjoying these amenities.
- A kid-friendly and differently-abled-friendly country. The country has immense consideration for its children and people with alternate abilities. From roads to shops, all facilities are equipped with amenities that make life pleasant for these sections of society.
How to immigrate to Israel under the Law of Return?
The Law of Return identifies the birthright of Jews, all over the world, to return to their homeland. Aliyah allows a Jewish descendant to exercise his/ her right to return to Israel and recive citizenship. This right is applicable to a Jew by descent, the child, grandchild or spouse of a Jew, or a convert to Judaism (“Ger”).
An immigration aspirant can decide to make Aliyah either before entering Israel or after entering the country on a B-2 tourist visa.
What are the Ukrainian Aliyah Requirements?
Under the usual conditions, Ukrainians who wish to make Aliyah must:
- Fill out an immigration application
- Submit the required documents
- Attend an interview at the Israeli consulate \ embassy
- Wait for approval of the application
With the current war, the Interior Ministry has relaxed restrictions on the availability of some documents, and allows prospective Olim to find and submit documents proving their eligibility after having entered Israel. Still, the process of immigration to Israel can be complex.
Our law office legal and immigration experts are experienced in the Ukrainian Aliyah process. Our team can provide assistance with the Aliyah process and with obtaining an Israeli visa. Our legal experience and local connections can help you immigrate faster.
Can you immigrate to Israel without your family?
The Law of Return applies to Jews, their children, and grandchildren, as well as their spouses. “Split Aliyah” involves an immigrant who is entitled to make Aliyah travelling to Israel first, leaving their family behind. This could be due to employment opportunities in the home country, remaining financial arrangements back home and more. The other option, the family moving to Israel while the person entitled to make Aliyah remains in their home country, is not available under Israeli law.
But the recent war has given rise to complex situations. A Ukrainian entitled to make Aliyah may have to stay in Ukraine in order to defend against the Russian invasion while being forced to send their family to a safer location, such as Israel. Under these circumstances, Israeli law makes the exception and allows the Oleh family to immigrate to Israel without their Jewish father \ husband.
Can you apply to join your husband \ wife in Israel?
If the spouse is an Israeli citizen, then immigration is easier. Israeli citizens can invite their spouses under Section 7 of the Israeli Law of Citizenship. A spouse can arrive in the country on a visitor visa. An aspirant can apply for a visa to Israel to join a spouse residing in the country. Minor children too can join the application. If granted, this visa is applicable for a half a year and offers a work permit for the holder.
This will be followed by the issuance of a temporary resident visa, which will have to be renewed. Non-Israeli spouses can apply for citizenship after 5 to 7 years.
What are the documents required for your wife \ husband to immigrate to Israel?
Israeli citizens seeking to get their Ukrainian spouse into the country must:
- Produce their foreign passport, with a validity period of at least two years, counted from the date of application
- Submit a completed immigration application form
- Submit an application for an identity card
- Submit 3 recent passport photos
- Submit the spouse’s birth certificate. The certificate must either be an original or an authenticated copy
- Submit marriage certificate
- Submit documents declaring the personal status of the applicant and the absence of any criminal history
- Submit documents to prove your relationship is authentic
- Israeli spouse must submit documents regarding work place and residence
Israel’s Population and Immigration Authority is the state office that processes immigration applications. The department may request additional documents, if necessary. Under the current circumstances, Ukrainian Olim are generally issued a visa in an expedited process and allowed to produce the required documents later. As acquiring an apostille for the documents in war-torn Ukraine is often not an option, this requirement is often waived.
Can parents join their children in Israel?
A “lone elderly parent” of an Israeli citizen can receive a legal residence permit in Israel under Israeli immigration laws, on humanitarian grounds.
Can parents of Israeli soldiers receive legal status in Israel?
Parents of Israeli soldiers living outside, who are not eligible to immigrate to Israel under the Law of Return may join their children if they have completed a certain period of service in the IDF, and this way are eligible for immigration.
Extending Immigration for Reasons of Employment in Israel
B-1 work visas allow immigration on the grounds of employment. Ukrainian workers in Israel can extend their working visas in case of an inability to go home due to the war.
Obtaining visa extensions typically involves:
- Obtaining a visa extension permit form from authorized Population and Immigration Authority offices
- A passport with a specified validity period (usually two years)
- Recent bank statements or other financial proof to show financial stability
- A letter explaining your need for an extension
- Proof of authenticity of the application
- Applicable fees
Can Ukrainians find refuge in Israel?
Israel offers immigration for aspirants seeking asylum in the country. Immigrants granted approval under this service get the status of Ukrainian refugees in Israel.
The application process is usually lengthy, involving:
- Submission of application for Refugee Status Determination
- A visit to an authorized location to confirm details in the application, in person
- Completion of further process, including an interview, on scheduled dates, at designated locations
- A wait for application approval
However, during the course of the war against Russia, Ukrainians seeking asylum in Israel are given the right to live and work in Israel without having to apply to an asylum seeker visa.
In Conclusion – Israeli immigration lawyer at your service
There are limited ways to move from Ukraine to Israel. Whether you are moving with family or leaving loved ones behind due to conditions outside of your control, immigration can be overwhelming. Several legal obstacles can arise in the process. Knowledge and practical understanding of Israeli immigration governmental processes are essential to ensure smooth and fast immigration.
Whether you are seeking Ukrainian Aliyah assistance or informed immigration to Israel, attorneys at our law office, with branches in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem can help provide Israeli immigration assistance.
Proficient in Israeli immigration, our team discovers the best alternate ways for aspirants not eligible for immigration under the Law of Return. Our attorneys work to achieve legal status in Israel for all aspirants. We also help aspiring immigrants with legal representation at courts and government ministries.
Documents Ukrainian Spouse:
- Passport of the foreign spouse, valid for at least 3 years.
- Identity card of the Israeli spouse.
- Passport photos of the foreign spouse and Israeli spouse.
- A letter from the spouses describing the history of their acquaintance.
- Birth certificate of the foreign spouse, with a notarized translation into Hebrew by a notary who knows the language of the original document.
- Certificate of name change \ surname change of the foreign spouse, if they had in fact changed either, complete with notary authentication.
- A certificate for the (lack of) criminal record of the foreign spouse, issued by the competent authorities at the place of residence, translated into Hebrew, complete with notary certification. If the foreign spouse changed their surname, you will need to provide this certificate for each of previous surname. It is also necessary to check the (lack of) criminal record of the Israeli spouse, as this may affect the decision of the Israeli Ministry of Internal Affairs.
- Certificate of marital status of the foreign spouse, translated into Hebrew, complete with notary certification.
- If the foreign spouse is divorced, the marriage certificate and divorce certificate must be translated into Hebrew and notarized,
- Declaration of the foreign spouse on having \ not having children.
- Rental/purchase agreement and payment receipts (including bank printouts) for the Israeli spouse \ shared household
- Utility bills for the last six months – electricity, gas, telephone, water, arnona, cable TV, etc for the Israeli \ shared household
- Certificate of employment and pay slips for the last year.
- Bank documents showing the financial situation of the spouses for the last year.
- Documents for the car, including driver’s license and insurance.
- Evidence of the relationship between the spouses: joint photos, letters, e-mails, SMS, etc.
- Confirmation from a Health Insurance Fund that the Israeli spouse is a member
- Confirmation from the National Insurance Institute that the Israeli spouse receives or does not receive social benefits
- Written testimonies of the closest relatives and friends of the spouses, which could confirm that the relationship between the spouses is not fictitious. Copies of witnesses’ IDs and their phone numbers must be attached to the letters.
- Payment of the visa fee to the Ministry of Internal Affairs (940 + 175 shekels).
- (All foreign documents must be authenticated with an apostille, but this requirement is currently suspended due to the war with Russia)