In Israel, there is a wide range of visas that allow you to stay, work, study, volunteer or reside for the long term in the country. Each visa type provides different advantages and has its own specific procedure of acquisition.
Our law firm specializes in immigration and entry visas to Israel, as well as Israeli residency, naturalization and citizenship.
In this article, you will have a complete overview of all the visas available in Israel, ranked from the least advantageous one to the most beneficial, according to what you are looking for.
NOT ALLOWED TO WORK AND VISAS THAT CONCERN INDIVIDUAL ONLY, NO FAMILY
We start from the weakest form of stay in Israel, which is those with no visa whatsoever.
Staying in Israel with no visa at all – under danger of arrest and deportation
Immigrants are considered illegal when they entered into Israel territory without any visa or passport or when they overstayed their visa, and do not have legal documents anymore or don’t have a valid visa to justify their stay in Israel. Some of them are under the fear of deportation by immigration police.
Waiting for a reply from the immigration office – In process
This status concerns those who submitted a request for visa, or visa extension, but are waiting for a reply, which has not yet arrived, and are still in Israel’s territory. You may be surprised to hear that it might take long periods of time for the Israeli immigration office to make a decision on requests for certain types of visas. For example, a request for a visa from the Humanitarian Committee might take several months, if not more than a year, until the reply is delivered.
During the time a visa applicant is waiting for the answer, the Immigration Authority will not renew the visa, therefore this applicant is left without any possibility to work and can’t exit and enter back to Israel. However, in this situation the immigration police will not deport a visa applicant, since they are in process.
B/2 Tourist visa – Visiting Israel for Touristic purposes
This type of visa is for tourists and short term visitors. Those who hold a tourist visa may stay in Israel for up to 90 days (3 months) and the visa expires when leaving Israel.
Israel has signed reciprocal agreements with many countries around the world which release citizens of these countries from the need to obtain a tourist visa to Israel in advance. However, there are still also many countries that did not sign these agreements, therefore their citizens need a B/2 visa in advance.
These foreign citizens who wish to visit Israel as tourists on a B-2 tourist visa must obtain a visa through the Israeli consulate in their country, or else be invited to Israel by way of official invitation from a local Israeli, that is to say a citizen or permanent resident of Israel. Then, the representative from the Israeli Ministry of Interior checks if all the conditions are met in the application, and the Department of Visas and Immigration will accept or deny the foreigner’s entrance according to the profile and the situation.
VISAS TO ISRAEL THAT DON’T GRANT A VISA ALSO FOR SPOUSE AND KIDS
2(a)5) – asylum seeker – temporary refugee visa
Asylum seekers in Israel apply to the Ministry of Interior to receive refugee status according to the International Convention and Israeli immigration procedure for refugee status determination.
A person who enters the territory of the State of Israel and wishes to submit his application for asylum is required to do so at one of the offices of the Population and Immigration Authority. The asylum application must be submitted within one year of entry into Israel.
The Ministry of Interior provides asylum seekers with permits that allow them to temporarily reside in Israel while they process the application for political asylum, under Ministry authority per section 2 (a) 5 of the Entry into Israel Law. These temporary permits are usually granted for a period of 3 months but are extended repeatedly until the decision regarding the asylum application is made, which could take several years.
An asylum seeker is allowed to work and the employer must provide health insurance, severance pay, sick leave, pension funds and other benefits.
A/2 Student visa
An Israeli A/2 visa is given to higher-education students coming to Israel for the purpose of academic studies. It is an entry permit to Israel for those who have already been admitted to an educational institution in Israel.
The A/2 student visa for Israel is renewable and allows foreign students of all ages to live and study in Israel but does not allow the holder to work. Any person admitted to a recognized educational institution in Israel who has the required documents to prove this to the Israeli Embassy in his or her country of residence may apply for an Israeli student visa. This includes persons admitted to elementary and secondary schools, academic institutions, yeshivot and Jewish Agency youth institutions.
However, note that you will not be able to apply for an A/2 student visa for Israel if you have Israeli parents (e.g. an Ezrach Oleh). By law, those who qualify for Israeli citizenship must apply for an Israeli passport. A student visa for Israel is valid for one year. Before your visa expires, you can apply for a visa extension for another year. You can extend or renew your visa as long as you are enrolled in an educational institution in Israel.
For more information on the procedure to get a A/2 student visa, please read more on our website.
B/4 Volunteer visa to Israel
According to Israeli Immigration law, every foreign volunteer must have a volunteer visa to Israel. Indeed, as volunteering in Israel contributes to Israeli society (health, security, etc.), certain Israeli organizations are allowed to invite foreign volunteers to assist them with their projects. The application for a volunteer visa to Israel is submitted by the inviting organization and must be done before the volunteer arrives in Israel.
Usually, a volunteer visa in Israel is granted for a period of six months. However, volunteers in the Israeli Ministry of Social Affairs, religious institutions or social services institutions can receive volunteer visas to Israel for one year, with the possibility to extend it for up to two years.
Israeli volunteers eligible for Aliyah to Israel can receive a volunteer visa for up to three years, one year at a time. After the volunteer visa to Israel has expired, the volunteer cannot receive another volunteer visa for at least one year. A volunteer with an approved three-month visa can apply for an extension of the visa for an additional nine months, but the Ministry of Interior bureau manager has the authority to extend it for up to 15 months in aggregate. A volunteer visa holder’s spouse and children can receive a tourist visa for the volunteering period.
For more information regarding the procedure for a B/4 volunteer visa, please read more on our website.
A/3 Clergy visa – Religious visa to Israel
In general, the process of granting the clergy visa to Israel requires the authorized religious institution in Israel to invite its religious worker to enter Israel, all while this specific worker is still awaiting visa approval outside of the country. The duration of a clergy visa in Israel if for one year at a time, up until a maximum of five years. However, this time frame may be extended if the religious organization can convince the Ministry of Religious Affairs and the Interior Ministry regarding the importance of the religious worker for the organization in Israel.
For more details regarding the clergy visa to Israel, please refer to this article on our website.
There are different types of visa to work in Israel. These work visas are granted only to employers and serve as a permit to hire foreign workers in Israel.
B/1 work visa: This type of visa is relevant for foreign workers, because it allows the holder to both reside and work in Israel. The visa is valid for one year but can be extended for a maximum of five years except in special cases of foreign workers in the nursing industry. The visa cannot be issued after the worker is in Israel, so it is not possible for the worker to come to Israel with a B/2 tourist visa and then begin the procedure to obtain a B/1 work visa.
B/1 expert visa: This type of visa can only be held by senior workers at jobs that require unique expertise, a specific professional background, and professional certificates. The criteria for being considered a “foreign expert” and being eligible for an expert visa are a salary that exceeds twice the average salary in the Israeli market, specific professional skills required for the job, creating new jobs in the economy, and specific knowledge not available in Israel. Moreover, the expert must be invited by a resident of Israel who is not a man power contractor.
Journalist visa – expert work visa to Israel for media staff
It is possible to obtain a visa to Israel for a foreign journalist by first coming to Israel with a tourist visa. Then, once in the country, the foreign journalist must submit an application to the Israeli Government Press Office to obtain a temporary press card.
Please note that a first time applicant will be subject to a security review by the Government Press office which examines whether or not the foreign journalist is eligible for this visa. The foreign journalist should not work in Israel until he or she has the proper paperwork, that is to say the temporary press card and then the B/1 visa. The temporary press card allows the journalist to work in Israel for a few months while applying for a B-1 work visa through the Ministry of Interior.
Artist visa – B-1 expert work visa for artists
Foreign artists who wish to obtain a foreign expert visa through a company must be well-known in their field. They are often issued visas for a shorter period of time, generally a maximum of three months. Parallely, a longer visa may be issued, but the Population and Immigration Authority stipulates that the visa for a particular foreign artist should not last more than one year. Generally, the time granted in the visa corresponds to the length of time required to perform the project.
If you want to learn more about the procedure to get a work visa for a foreign artist, please read this article.
Short Expert Worker Permit to Israel for skilled foreign workers
This type of permit is made for a foreign expert worker who will be in the country for 90 days or less. The company must ensure that the foreign expert has the necessary qualifications in order to apply for such a permit. There are several issues specific to the short work permit to Israel. First, they can be paid at the normal Israeli minimum salary, in the difference of the regular expert worker that should be paid a minimum of twice the average Israeli salary. The short-term work permit will result in a single-entry visa only. If the worker wishes to travel in and out of the country, they need to apply for a multi-entry visa. Usually, family members are not allowed to come with short term expert workers, but exceptions are made. Finally, the short expert worker permit may not be extended.
B/5 investor visa to Israel for Americans
This special visa is available since May 2019 for US citizens who can receive a legal status in Israel even if they are not otherwise eligible to immigrate to Israel through the process of Aliyah.
To get such a visa, the applicant must invest a “significant amount” and should represent a purchase of at least 50% of a business that actively contributes to the Israeli economy and employs several Israeli citizens. The visa is open to business owners and senior managers and/or employees who are essential to the functioning and development of the company. The foreign investor must prove that the business will be profitable enough to cover his needs and his family while contributing to Israel’s economy. This is particularly important for American spouses of Israeli citizens. If their family members have the required funds, their siblings, older children from previous marriages, and parents who are not “single and elderly”, can obtain status in Israel even if they are not Jewish and are not eligible to immigrate to Israel. The visa allows the family members to reside, study and work in Israel. However, neither the investor nor his family are entitled to social services due to Israeli residents such as national insurance and health insurance, but can purchase private alternatives.
The visa lasts for 2 years. However, it can be renewed for one year at a time, and in special circumstances, it can be extended even beyond 63 months (5 years).
RESIDENCY VISAS – VISAS THAT GRANTS ISRAELI ID AND NUMBER, HEALTH INSURANCE AND SOCIAL SECURITY
A/5 temporary residency visa
The A/5 visa serves as a temporary residence permit for those who are in the process of obtaining Israeli citizenship not on the basis of the Law of Return. It gives its holder the legal right to reside in Israel and receive an Israeli identification card (Teudat zehut) and other social benefits, such as health insurance and Israeli social security. It is usually granted by the Ministry of Interior for one-year intervals and may be revoked in cases of change in the circumstances, such as leaving Israel for long periods of time.
For more details regarding the procedure to get the Temporary Resident A/5 visa, please refer to our website.
A/1 visa – Live, study and work in Israel for those eligible for Aliyah
The A/1 visa includes all the visas discussed above eligible for Aliyah. Indeed, it is for those who are entitled to immigrate to Israel based on the Law of Return who wish to live, study and work in Israel prior to immigrating permanently.
This temporary resident visa gives eligible persons the possibility of “tryout period” life in Israel before committing to Aliyah and Israeli citizenship. Unlike other student visas in Israel, which are awarded based on academic merit, the A/1 visa is limited to Jews or children / grandchildren of Jews who are entitled to citizenship in Israel under the Law of Return.
According to the Ministry of Interior procedure, the visa is initially issued for a period of up to 3 years. However, there is a possibility to renew it for up to 5 years in total. An A/1 visa holder may also receive an Inter-Visa (re-entry visa) for the duration of their stay in Israel. Previous holders of an A/1 visa that do not want to go through the process of Aliyah, may obtain an A/5 visa, a temporary resident status in Israel.
Toshav Keva – Israeli Permanent resident
The holders of a permanent residency status have an Israeli identity card. Moreover, the status gives them the right to vote in the municipal elections. A resident is entitled to participation and compensation via Bituach Leumi (social security), public health fund membership and has the right to work in almost every profession. Permanent residents hold a foreign passport of the country in which they are citizens.
Israel has a number of categories of permanent residents, such as residents of East Jerusalem or Spouses of Israeli citizens at the end of the gradual process at the stage before naturalization. Furthermore, in other procedures for obtaining legal status in Israel, such as receiving status as parents to a lone soldier, permanent residency is also the last step before obtaining citizenship.
The country of origin may not allow dual citizenship, so citizens of such countries prefer to live in Israel as permanent residents while keeping a foreign citizenship and passport.
Israeli Citizenship – Hold an Israeli passport
Citizenship is the strongest form of connection to the state of Israel. Citizenship is the only status that grants an Israeli passport, in addition to all the advantages presented above for the status of permanent resident. Moreover, there are some significant differences between the legal status of a permanent resident and a citizen. For instance, residency status expires after 7 years of living abroad or after acquiring “permanent status” in a foreign country. Israeli citizenship, on the other hand, can’t be revoked under these circumstances.
Furthermore, a permanent resident who becomes an Israeli citizen is required to relinquish their other citizenship (if any), while someone who acquires citizenship by making Aliyah based on the Law of Return, or by way of naturalization such as marriage with an Israeli, may keep any prior citizenship.
If you want to learn more about the ways and conditions to acquire Israeli citizenship, please read this article.
CONTACT US – IMMIGRATION LAW OFFICE
As you can observe, there are many different types of visas, not granting all the same advantages. All of these visas require a complex bureaucratic process with the immigration authorities. To make sure that you are following all the rules lawfully and correctly, we recommend that you hire an expert experience immigration lawyer who knows all the details of the law and can assist you with every step of the process, including preparation of all the necessary documents, advice regarding the type of visa relevant to your case, and solution to every issue that may come up until successfully obtaining the desired visa.