The Law of Return beneficiaries and their families, residing in Israel, are entitled for legal status, enabling them to stay, work and study in Israel. This essay explores the various possibilities open to the Law of Return beneficiaries when regulating their status in Israel, after receiving MOI confirmation that they are indeed entitled to Law of Return benefits. MOI has recently published new instructions and guidance booklet on the subject. According to these new instructions and regulations, the legal status of a Law of Return beneficiary will be carried through using shortened and flexible process, free of charge as far as working permits, student visas and temporary residency visas are concerned.
The Law of Return defines the right of every Jew, his son/s, grandchildren, and sometimes also his great grandchildren, and their spouses, to arrive and settle in Israel. According to Law of Return, a New Comer (Ole Hadash) certificate immediately provides Israeli citizenship. There are many cases in which Law of Return candidates arrive in Israel for learning or working purposes, but are not interested in immediate Aliya. The reasons for that are varied: some wish to settle down before making Aliya; in other cases, Aliya procedure is postponed till the whole family can make that process together, and sometimes people want to postpone receipt of Aliya financial benefits and additional accompanying benefits for later, since their validity expires after 3 years from receipt of Aliya Certificate.
We shall not enter the problematic dangerous issue of “Who can be considered a Jew”, in our essay. Instead, we shall focus on describing the different possibilities the Law of Return’s beneficiary faces.
Proof of Judaism for regulating status with the MOI is different from that needed in order to properly marry in Israel, at a religious marriage ceremony authorized and accepted by the Israeli Rabbinate. The only legal possibility of marriage in Israel for a Jewish couple is the one conducted by the Rabbinate, and for that purpose, both husband and wife must each approach the Rabbinate authority and prove their Judaism. In that context, being a Law of Return beneficiary, and the proof required for receiving the Law of Return beneficiary are both considered as insufficient proof. High Court of Justice in the case of Elian (Eve) Passero Goldestein (High Court of Justice 1031/93 Pessaro (Goldstein) vs. Ministry of Interior, PD MT (4) 661), 1995, has actually established a distinction between the orthodox religious ruling in establishing Judaism, and the administrative confirmation of Judaism.
Law of Return beneficiaries’ various possibilities are:
B-2 Tourist Visa
New regulations determine that a Law of Return beneficiary staying in Israel under Tourist status and wishes to extend his stay; can apply to the MOI for extending his present status Visa for a period of 27 sequent months (two years and three months!!). In addition to that, and according to the Population Authority regulations, a person under Tourist status and Law of Return beneficiary can change his legal status and apply for Aliya without leaving Israel and without the need to undergo a consular change-of-status procedure (contradictory to changing status from tourist to working visa / foreign expert visa).
B-1 Working Permit
This type of Visa is for Law of Return beneficiary, interested in working in Israel under shortened procedures and without fees payments. Once the applicant’s request is approved, he will be issued a B-1 visa as hereby described:
- Candidate will receive a B-1 working permit Visa for two years, which will be prolonged, after expiring, for three additional years.
- After a 5 years accumulative period of time (from receipt of the first Visa) candidate can apply for “Ole” or A-5 permanent resident status for two years, which can be prolonged by two additional years.
- Once the Visa is issued, applicant is allowed working in Israel, without any limitations whatsoever, at any place or employer (unlike Foreign Experts visa which is limited to a specific employer).
A-2 Student Visa for students, Yeshiva students and courses:
This type of Visa is for Law of Return beneficiaries interested in learning and working in Israel. Candidate will be required to provide certificate showing she / he was accepted by a well-known University, high-education institute or Yeshiva. Following approval, the candidate will be issued an A-2 visa, as follows:
- A-2 Student visa for a period of three consecutive years.
- after three years (from receipt of the first Visa), additional periods of time can be approved of, in accordance with the requested studies’ period of time.
- MOI regulations allow Law of Return beneficiaries, holding A-2 Visa, part-time jobs only, as long as this does not collide with their studies.
A-1 Visa “Potential Aliya”:
Status for Law of Return beneficiaries, who are interested in checking the possibility of settling in Israel, and starting Aliya procedures. Once candidate is approved of, an A-1 visa will be issued as follows:
- at first, a three-year visa enabling working and studying.
- Once the status is approved of, issuance of temporary Identity Card (Orange Card).
- At the end of three years candidate can apply for Ole status, or extend the Visa for additional two years.
- At the end of five (accumulating) years under A-1 “Potential Aliya” visa, it is possible to apply for A-5 Temporary Residency, for two years. At the end of these two years, an extension for two additional years is possible.
- Equal status will be provided to other family members, following proof of family ties (Birth certificate and / or marriage certificate).
- Bearers of A-1 “Potential Aliya” or A-5 Temporary Residency, are not entitled to Absorption support, but acceptance of A-1 Visa allows receiving social rights, national security and health insurance.
A-4 Visa – Accompanying a Student / Yeshiva student:
This status is for spouse entitled to Law of Return, married to an A-2 residency permit holder, and their minor children. At proving the family ties by presenting marriage license and / or birth certificate, this A-4 accompanying Visa will be issued:
- After receipt of the visa, couple members are allowed working in Israel.
- The status shall be provided for the same time period as the A-2 holder
It is interesting to see that according to the new MOI regulations, A-4 visa holders, i.e. spouses of students and Yeshiva students holding A-2 visas, are allowed working in Israel. This is an exceptional gesture enabling bearers of these visas working in Israel, although Entry to Israel Regulations, 1974, include a clause forbidding work from A-4 visa holders, except if The Minister has issued special working permission.
All said and explained in this article does not constitute a legal opinion and does not replace legal advice. Responsibility for using the wordings and opinions conveyed in this article relies solely and entirely on the reader.
This article was written by Dotan Cohen Law Offices, working in the field of immigration law in Israel, the United States, Canada and Australia.