Moving to Israel?
How to Get Your Visa for Israel
Before departing for Israel, you obviously need the right visa. There are several visa categories that could be relevant for your specific case. The basic distinctions differentiate between visitors and people with a long-term visa, between expatriates and Jewish immigrants.
Aliya: Visas for Jewish Migrants Settling in Israel
You have the right to apply for an immigrant visa if you either have a Jewish mother or are an official convert to Judaism, which means that you are covered by the so-called Law of Return (aliya). The aliya legislation harks back to the early days of Zionist settlement in Palestine and its plan to end the Jewish Diaspora. The first wave of aliya immigration took place in the late 19th century when Jewish migrants from Eastern Europe fled a number of pogroms in their home countries.
Today, the Israeli government is pursuing an active immigration policy to support Israel’s position as the only majority Jewish state worldwide. If the Law of Return applies to you and you are interested in settling in Israel, you should contact the nearest aliya representative of the Jewish Agency for advice. He or she can help you with applying for a temporary resident visa for new migrants at the Israeli Embassy or Consulate.
Obtaining a Visitor Visa for Israel
As a regular traveler, e.g. on a short-term business trip or a fact-finding excursion for your future foreign assignment, you can stay in Israel on a visitor visa for up to three months. A visa extension may be possible, but you have to apply for it at the local Ministry of Immigration office within the country.
The nationals of various states are exempt from having a visitor visa for such brief stays in Israel. These countries include, among others, Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, Hong Kong, Iceland, Jamaica, Japan, Macedonia, Mexico, Mongolia, New Zealand, Norway, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, the Philippines, Russia, Serbia, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, Switzerland, Taiwan, Ukraine, Uruguay, the US, and all EU member states.
However, if you need a tourist visa after all, you have to bring the following documents to the Israeli Embassy or Consulate:
- your valid passport (original and copy)
- your completed visa application
- proof of sufficient financial funds
- a return ticket
- two passport photographs
Together with paying the visa application fee, this should suffice for a short-term tourist visa.
Applying for a Work Visa
If you are an expatriate on an intra-company transfer or with a job offer in Israel, you require both a work permit and a work visa to take up gainful employment. To obtain these documents, you have to follow those four steps:
- First, you submit an application for a work permit with the Israeli Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labor (MOITAL). Since your employer acts as your sponsor, the company often takes care of the paperwork itself. The HR staff has to prove that there is no Israeli for the job and to provide information on the position, the proposed salary, your professional qualifications and background, etc. The MOITAL will then issue a work permit recommendation for the Ministry of Immigration (MOI).
- With the work permit, you can apply for a visa recommendation with the MOI. During this step, it’s essential that you promise to arrange health insurance for the duration of your stay, mostly via your employer and/or an (additional) private healthcare plan.
- After getting the MOI recommendation, you can start the visa application at the nearest Israeli mission. Don’t forget to provide a certificate of good conduct, a medical exam (if required), two passport photographs, and a completed application form. You must also agree to have your picture and your fingerprints taken.
- With this work visa, you are allowed to enter Israel. However, the visa itself is usually valid for 30 days only. Make sure to go to the local MOI office and extend it on a yearly basis. A work visa usually enables you to live in Israel for up to five years. Your dependent family members normally get a secondary visa for the duration of your stay, but such visas do not include a work permit.
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