Student visa to Israel – useful legal information

How to get a student visa to Israel? If you are asking yourself this question, you are in the right place. In this article you will find useful information, written by an experienced Israeli immigration lawyer, regarding the process of obtaining an Israel student visa for foreign citizens.

Are you foreign citizen looking to study at an Israeli higher education institution?

As foreign citizens, in order to study in Israel, you’ll have to obtain an Israeli student visa, or, to quote the law: “A/2 residence permit” for students, foreign citizens, wishing to study in Israel. Foreign citizens who are otherwise entitled to make aliyah to Israel may apply for an A/1 residence permit, which would allow them to study and work in the Holy Land.
In order to submit the application, you should be familiar with the central aspects of the procedure at the Ministry of Interior – the competent government authority, authorized to approve the application at the end of the process. This would help you conduct the process properly and efficiently, without disappointments.
The procedure for the obtainment or extension of an Israeli student visa includes both standard and exceptional cases.

What do I need to know about the student visa application policy?

This article covers the most important parts of the Israeli student visa procedure; however, the full procedure can be accessed at the Ministry of Interior’s website. The Israeli student visa procedure requires recognized education institutions in Israel to collectively coordinate foreign student’s procedures with the Population Authority in the education institution’s area.

Who submits the Israeli student visa request and where?

Students may submit the application to obtain or extend a student visa by themselves at the Israeli consulate in their native country. However, the student’s prospective education institution may also submit the application in Israel. This should be done before the student enters Israel. Applications to extend the student visa must be submitted in Israel.

Who decides if to approve or deny the application?

The following entities are authorized to decide whether to grant an Israeli student visa: If the application was submitted at an Israeli Consulate abroad, the decision will be made by the Consulate. If the application is submitted at an Israeli Population Authority Office, the office has a hierarchy of three authorized personnel: the Head of Visas branch, the Visas Coordinator, and the Office Administrator. According to this order, one of them will be authorized to approve the application, or to refer it for decision by the next higher authority, in case they didn’t see fit to approve the application. The office administrator may deny the application.

How long is a student visa valid?

An Israeli student visa is usually granted for one year at a time, with an option to receive extensions of up to 4 or 5 years, according to the type of academic degree. There are also exceptional permits in place to extend the visa for a longer period of time. The student or the education institution must submit the extension every year at the Ministry of Interior’s Population Authority Office, according to the academic institution’s geographical location. The visa extension applicant must produce an approval from the education institution, confirming that they have completed their studies in the previous year.

What can be done if an application is denied?

In case the application is denied, if the applicant is staying in Israel while applying to extend the visa’s validity (for example), they will be required to leave Israel within 14 days.

What does the Ministry of Interior check during the application process?

The Population Authority conducts a comprehensive examination of the applicant’s past, with respect to many aspects (academic, criminal, security, administrative). The Authority collects comprehensive information, and is linked with all of the relevant entities (police, the security forces, governmental information systems). In addition, the information provided by the applicant and the completeness thereof, is verified and checked. All information and every finding with respect to the Israeli student visa applicant is taken into account with regards to the visa application. This procedure is also performed while applying to extend a visa.

Don’t overstay your visa and reside in Israel illegally

It should be emphasized that the State of Israel rejects visa applicants, with a history of illegal stays in Israel (such as failure to exit Israel in the past following a visa’s expiry), to the full extent of the law. So that in every stage, including during a legal stay in Israel, it’s important to avoid any illegal stay, even by mistake, to keep the visa’s expiry date in mind, and to ensure the timely submission of the extension application. Any person staying in Israel without a valid visa, or violating the visa’s terms, might be refused entry into Israel for a period of 10 years.

Can a foreign student work in Israel?

In principle, a student visa does not include permission to work in Israel, and therefore any person staying in Israel with a student visa is prohibited from working, except in certain cases. Illegal work is considered a violation of the visa’s terms.
Can a student exit Israel and come back?
During the term of the student visa, students may obtain a permit to re-enter Israel (Inter-Visa).

What are the documents required for submitting a student visa application?

1. Two application forms, at the following links: Application for entry visa to Israel A/1, and Application for the extension of permit of residence A/3
2. The student visa applicant’s foreign passport, valid for at least 6 months following the requested period of stay.
3. An up-to-date passport photo – visual image of the applicant.
4. In the first application only, the student visa applicant’s birth certificate. It’s best to provide the original certificate. In case any public certificate was produced, this requires authentication in accordance with the law, and translation into Hebrew or English.
5. An invitation letter and approval of admission to a study program, signed by a representative of the institution, detailing the purpose of arrival to Israel, and the student visa applicant’s intended period of stay.
6. Evidence of the student visa applicant’s financial means – in case of need, proof of scholarships, tuition fee payment, bank statement, etc. It’s important to remember that, in most cases, foreign students are prohibited to work in Israel.
7. When concerning a minor – an approval signed by both parents is mandatory. If the parents are abroad – the signature must be made before the Israeli Consul; alternatively, you must produce the signature of the other parent, with notarial certification. If the parents are in Israel – the signature must be made before the Population Authority, or you must produce an approval from the legal guardian – mandatory.
8. Fee payment – the service requires the payment of a fee, as specified in the List of Fees

What about foreign students who are Jewish?

This procedure refers to an exceptional population: those eligible under the Right of Return. These are granted easements according to the A2 Israeli Student Visa Procedure, such as: The grant of a continuous visa of up to three years, with five-year extensions. In certain conditions, an Israeli work visa.

Those eligible for Aliyah can also obtain the A/1 Visa – study, work, and residence in Israel for persons eligible under the Right of Return

The A/1 visa allows foreign citizens eligible under the Right of Return to reside, work, and study in Israel for a period of up to 5 years. This visa, of course, is intended to provide persons eligible under the Right of Return with the opportunity to live in Israel and decide over time whether they wish to permanently settle in Israel.

Obtaining the visa does not oblige the visa holder to immigrate to Israel. The holders of an A/1 visa may leave the country with this visa, apply for an A/5 visa for temporary residency, or to continue with the process of aliyah and obtain a citizenship in accordance with the Law of Return.

Israel boasts some of the world’s best universities in their respective fields, and foreign citizens have the option to take classes in English. The costs of studying and living in Israel are cheaper relative to English-speaking countries, including in leading higher education institutions. This is one of the reasons why students eligible under the Right of Return choose to study in Israel with an A-1 visa, even if they don’t wish to immigrate to Israel.

Who is eligible to receive the A-1 visa?

Any person eligible to make aliyah under the Right of Return may receive an A/1 visa. As opposed to other student visas (for example) in Israel, which are open to most foreign citizens, the A/1 visa is limited to Jews or the children/grandchildren of Jews, who are eligible to receive an Israeli citizenship in accordance with the Law of Return (1950). Eligibility to make aliyah is decided based on documents for proof of Judaism.

However, not every Jew, or family member of Jews, is eligible to make aliyah or be granted an A-1 visa. Any person applying for a visa is required to produce documents indicating that they have no criminal record, past refusals of entry into Israel, and does not pose any danger to Israel’s security.

Details regarding the A/1 visa application procedure:

According to the Ministry of Interior’s Procedure, the visa is initially valid for up to 3 years, and can be renewed for a period of up to 5 years in total. An Inter-Visa (re-entry permit) can also be obtained for the duration of the stay in Israel.
To obtain this visa, the applicant must enter into Israel as a visitor, and contact the nearest Population and Immigration Authority Office. The applicant must produce documents indicating that they are Jewish and/or eligible to make aliyah. The documents must be written in a language comprehensible to the Authority’s employees (English), or be translated.

What about people who wish to stay in Israel after the visa’s expiry, without obtaining a citizenship?

Many persons eligible to make aliyah are happy to stay and work in Israel for years, but for various reasons, do not wish to go through the process of aliyah. For example, certain countries do no permit dual citizenship, and the citizens of such countries do not wish to renounce their previous citizenship. People who have studied in Israel with an A/1 visa are eligible to receive an A-5 visa, which offers temporary residency without a citizenship.

In light of the above, it is recommended to obtain legal assistance with regards to immigration into Israel. A professional with experience in obtaining Israeli student visas would be able to assist you with any question and/or issues with the process of obtaining an Israeli student visa.

Contact us – Israeli immigration lawyers

Our law firm in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv specializes in immigration, work, and study in Israel. Our specialist lawyers can help you ensure the obtainment of a student visa, an A-1 visa, or any other visa to which you are eligible in order to enter Israel.