UPDATE: See new additional exceptions issued on July 12
Since the beginning of the Corona crisis, foreigners have been banned from entering Israel. Throughout this period, Chaim V’Chessed has been heavily involved in obtaining permission for non-Israelis to enter Israel in certain situations. Our efforts on behalf of student visa families have been well documented.
There are numerous exceptional circumstances, in which non-Israeli citizens seek to enter the country. These include family members seeking to attend weddings of their siblings or children, mourners wishing to participate in the funerals of loved ones, and other life and death situations.
A constant challenge has been the lack of clearly delineated guidelines. Over the past few months, we have persistently entreated Interior Ministry officials to issue cogent guidelines, and preferably in English.
On Sunday June 14, the Interior Ministry finally responded with a one-page Hebrew document outlining the rules for exceptional entry permission. We continue to urge the Ministry to issue these guidelines in English, as well.
The Hebrew document can be viewed here.
Bear in mind, that is not sufficient to belong to one of these categories. One must receive written permission from the Foreign Ministry in order to enter Israel.
The following groups are addressed by these rules:
Foreign Spouses of Israeli Citizens:
Foreign spouses of Israeli citizens may receive permission to enter Israel.
However, the Israeli citizen must also be a current resident of Israel. If he/she holds Israeli citizenship but currently resides abroad, the spouse will not receive permission.
Furthermore, we have seen that authorities commonly require that the couple be listed as married in the Israeli Population Registry. A foreign marriage certificate is often insufficient. This has created difficulties for Israelis who have recently married foreigners abroad, near or during the Corona crisis. These couples have no way to register their marriages with Israel (consulates and embassies are closed), and hence, their applications are frequently denied. We are working with government officials to resolve this issue.
Relatives Attending Weddings in Israel:
A chassan or kalla marrying an Israeli citizen, as well as their parents, grandparents and siblings can obtain permission to enter Israel. Please note: Chaim V’Chessed has learned that permission is not granted to brother or sisters in law.
Relatives Attending Funerals in Israel:
Mourners may travel to Israel for the funeral or shiva of immediate relatives. Here too, we have found that permission is often not granted to in-law children. However, the rules state plainly that mourners and their spouses can be allowed to enter.
While all travelers must quarantine for fourteen days upon arrival in Israel, permission can be obtained from the Health Ministry to attend the funeral.
Furthermore, despite the fourteen-day quarantine requirement, the Health Ministry sometimes grants permission for mourners to enter the country for a very short time, up to 48 hours, and to leave immediately thereafter.
People in the process of making aliya are permitted to enter Israel. However, here too, there are numerous complications. With governmental offices shuttered across the globe, many basic documents needed for aliya are unobtainable. Nefesh B’Nefesh, with whom we work closely with, is making great efforts to alleviate some of these difficulties.
Applications for these exceptional circumstances must be made through your nearest Israeli embassy or consulate. For a complete list of Israeli outposts, see here.