Entry permits for foreign nationals now being granted, applicants say

Previously, unvaccinated foreign nationals could get entry permits provided they quarantined for the requisite amount of time.

TRAVELERS LINE UP at Ben-Gurion Airport earlier this month. (photo credit: FLASH90)
TRAVELERS LINE UP at Ben-Gurion Airport earlier this month.
(photo credit: FLASH90)
Following a change to government regulations made last week, non-Israelis who are vaccinated against COVID-19 have begun receiving entry permits to visit first-degree relatives living in Israel.
This represents the first time since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic that foreign nationals, as long as they are vaccinated, have been able to obtain entry permits into Israel to visit parents, children and siblings for any reason at all.
Since the beginning of the pandemic it has been impossible for the foreign-national relatives of Israeli citizens to visit without good reason, such as weddings, births and other milestones.
And since the end of January this year, it has been extremely difficult for foreign-nationals to visit their close relatives in Israel even for such critical life cycle events, as reported on in depth by The Jerusalem Post.
But last week, after activists and government ministers including Aliyah and Integration Minister Pnina Tamano-Shata lobbied for a change, the Population and Immigration Authority of the Interior Ministry relaxed these restrictions.
And Israelis – olim (immigrants) for the most part – are now reporting that requests by parents and children are being approved.
Activists dealing with the issue, as well as applicants for such entry permits, are also reporting that the application process, while complex and relatively burdensome, is actually working and applications are being approved.
According to former MK Dov Lipman, who has played an outsized role in assisting Israelis and their foreign-national relatives to enter the country in recent months, the system for obtaining approvals for non-Israelis to visit their relatives is working relatively smoothly.
Lipman said that most Israeli consulates are processing the applications efficiently and , leading to entry permit approvals issued in a timely fashion for those who qualify.
Likewise, branches of the Population and Immigration Authority in Israel, where Israelis can submit the documentation of their relatives, are also for the most part dealing efficiently with the applications.
In some situations, Lipman said that the authority’s branches are more efficient and streamlined in their application approval process than the consulates abroad.
DEENA MOSKOWITZ-HIKRI, an immigrant from the US who is pregnant and has a two-year-old child, filed an application with a local branch of the Population and Immigration Authority on Thursday through the New York consulate for her parents.
On Saturday night, their entry permits were already approved.
Moskowitz-Hikri, a resident of Tel Aviv, said she was very happy with the speedy processing and approval of the request, but noted that the amount of documentation required to apply was extremely burdensome, likening it to applying for college in the US.
She also pointed out that the requirement for documents proving the relationship between herself and her parents for apostille, a legal tool to verify official documents, was onerous and unnecessary since Israeli marriage licenses and identification documents specify the details of a citizen’s parents, obtained through previously verified documentation.
Seth, an immigrant from the US who preferred not to give his full name, said he had also submitted an application for his parents through the New York consulate but without all the requisite documentation, and that the application was denied without information about what else is needed.
Seth said Lipman helped him complete the application which he then physically submitted via an authority branch in Jerusalem – and it was approved within 20 minutes.
One problem Lipman highlighted, however, was that the new criteria for entry permits means that it is currently not possible for grandparents to come to the wedding of a grandchild since they are not first-degree relatives, nor is it possible for an under-16 sibling of a bride or groom, or of new parents, to gain an entry permit since they cannot be vaccinated yet.
Previously, unvaccinated foreign nationals could get entry permits provided they quarantined for the requisite amount of time.
“So far the system is working OK,” said Lipman.
“Most consulates are being responsive and people are getting approvals. The number of requests for help has actually increased as people seek help navigating the new rules,” he said.
“Those who want to apply in Israel should for sure reach out and I can guide them through the process,” Lipman said. There still are aspects which we are working to change – the apostille requirement, not allowing unvaccinated siblings to weddings, not allowing unvaccinated parents for births.
“But step by step. Progress has been made and we are continuing to work for better rules.”