Israeli Aliyah unit unable to cope with amount of Ukrainian refugees

Sources and refugees claim that the Aliyah visa application process is too slow.

 Ukrainian Jewish refugees arriving at Ben-Gurion Airport, March 6, 2022.  (photo credit: HADAS PARUSH)
Ukrainian Jewish refugees arriving at Ben-Gurion Airport, March 6, 2022.
(photo credit: HADAS PARUSH)

Is the aliyah process for Ukrainian refugees working as efficiently as possible? Many sources and refugees claim that the process is too slow, creating situations where some of the refugees have decided to temporarily immigrate to other countries.

“There is a very slow pace of document processing due to a manpower shortage issue by Nativ,” said a family member of Ukrainian Jews.

A senior source in the national institutions said “Nativ doesn’t have enough employees to cover the huge number of applicants. They are doing as much as they can, but they don’t have the capacity to make things move quicker.”

As of Saturday, Nativ has received 12,651 applications for aliyah visas. Of these, only 5,064 were approved.

Nativ said that 7,500 visas were issued as of Sunday, and were “approved at a good working pace.”

 PRIME MINISTER Naftali Bennett and Aliyah and Integration Minister Pnina Tamano-Shata greet a young Ukrainian who arrived in Israel this week. (credit: NOGA MALSA) PRIME MINISTER Naftali Bennett and Aliyah and Integration Minister Pnina Tamano-Shata greet a young Ukrainian who arrived in Israel this week. (credit: NOGA MALSA)

Nativ has the exclusive professional authority to check the eligibility for aliyah of those born in FSU countries pursuant to the Law of Return, and is qualified to issue aliyah visas to them. In other countries, the Jewish Agency is in charge of approving eligibility for aliyah.

An independent administrative unit at the Prime Minister’s Office, the Nativ organization operates among Jews and their families throughout the FSU countries, in order to tighten their ties with the State of Israel and broaden their knowledge about Israeli achievements, culture and heritage.

So far 18,357 Ukrainians, Russians and Belarusians have shown interest and filled out forms online, and close to 60,000 phone calls were received at the Jewish Agency call center. The number of Ukrainians and Russians interested in aliyah according to official data is similar, yet a bit more interest from Russians.

In Israel, the aliyah process is being conducted by three organizations at once, a coordinated workforce among Nativ, the Interior Ministry, and the Aliyah and Integration Ministry.