Photo Credit: Tomer Neuberg / Flash 90
Israeli passenger who arrived on an emergency flight at Ben Gurion International Airport, February 3, 2021.

The Israeli government has officially reopened its borders to non-citizen entry — but it’s not quite the free-wheeling situation that some reports have implied. The bottom line is that foreign tourism is not yet on the horizon, but at least families can get in, with caveats.

Here are the facts:

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Effective Wednesday, April 7 at 8 am, entry restrictions are relaxed. They are not eliminated.

Foreign non-citizen family members of Israelis will be allowed to apply for, and obtain, entry permits for various special circumstances, medical emergencies, deaths and for the purpose of visiting IDF lone soldiers. The special circumstances may include weddings, bar mitzvahs, births and circumcisions.

Proof of relationship will be made by checking the population registry and by presenting relevant notarized documents proving the family relationship.

Preliminary approval from the Population and Immigration Authority or the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is required before boarding the flight.

One must have a negative PCR test result within 72 hours prior to leaving the country of origin and travelers must take a PCR test upon arrival to Israel.

A request form must be submitted to the Exceptions Committee, which includes the Director General of the Population and Immigration Authority, the Director General of the Ministry of Health, the Director General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and their representatives, for approval of an application.

It is possible, however, that one may be able to fly to Israel even if he did not present the credentials listed above, in cases where the committee is convinced that a humanitarian need or special personal need or medical or epidemiological consideration justifies it, including if there is a real difficulty of lack of accessibility for coronavirus testing at takeoff.

Click here for the form for submission of an application to the Exceptions Committee. (Note: the entire page is in Hebrew but one can translate the page through the online Google Translate software.

Vaccinated or ‘recovered’ foreigners are allowed entry in the following cases:

1. A citizen or permanent resident who lives abroad and has a first-degree family member in Israel can visit with his spouse and children In Israel, even if they are non-citizens.

2. A foreign resident who has a first-degree Israeli family member (citizen or permanent resident) staying in Israel may come with his/her spouse and children to visit Israel.

All foreigners wishing to enter Israel must prove vaccination or recovery (except infants up to age one year.)

Foreigners who are not vaccinated or recovered are allowed entry in the following cases:

A foreigner married to an Israeli citizen or permanent resident and their minor children who meet the following cumulative conditions: Their marriage is registered in the population registry AND there is proof of a real relationship.

Applications must be submitted to the Bureau of the Population Administration or directly through the Israeli representative at the place of the foreigner’s place of residence.

2. Foreigners residing abroad who submitted a marriage application with an Israeli citizen or permanent residents will be allowed to enter after receiving approval from the Bureau ofPopulation and completing the relevant procedure (5.2.0009/Treatment5.2.0008).

3. Foreigners residing abroad and married to Israeli citizens or permanent residents as well as their minor children, will be allowed to enter and the accompanying minors by following the relevant procedure.

A. In cases where the spouses are abroad, the referral must be made directly to the Israeli representative.

B. Admission of minors staying abroad who are accompanying foreigners who are allowed in the country will also be permitted. Their entry will be permitted by the Population Administration Office in accordance with standard procedure.

C. Minors who are not part of the standard procedure will not be allowed in.

4. In the case of minor children of parents where one parent is an Israeli citizen living in Israel and the other parent is a foreigner living abroad, and the children live abroad, the entry of the child to visit the Israeli parent will be approved after presenting the birth certificate (original and a notarized copy) which proves the connection to an Israeli citizen, listing the child as an Israeli citizen, and a signature by the foreign parent to the consul on a letter of consent authorizing the minor’s trip to Israel. The application should be made directly to the Israel Consular Service where they reside.

5. The entry of Israeli foreign parents to a minor Israeli citizen who share the child custody agreement, is also permitted. Apply to the local consular service.

6. Foreign students who began their studies in Israel and are currently abroad must make the application for entry through the Israeli representative at the place of the foreigner’s residence. On a one-time basis, students who are abroad and are returning after Pesach will be approved for admission according to a closed list submitted by the MLAG for border control.

7. New and old yeshiva students who wish to begin their studies in Israel and are abroad – the application will be made by the yeshiva where they want to study, and not by yeshiva students, according to instructions sent to yeshiva heads and approved by the Ministry of Health. One-time permits for boarding and visas will be issued in a centralized manner by the Population and Immigration Authority for yeshiva students.

8. One-time yeshiva students with valid visas who have stayed in Israel and traveled on vacation and have a recovered or vaccinated certificate will be approved.

9. Old and new participants for MASA and Na’ale Bagirim who wish to start the program will process the application through their program.

Here are specific details relating to those “special circumstances” mentioned above.

Weddings: Attendance at a wedding of Israeli citizens, permanent residents or foreigners, whose center of life is lawfully in Israel, the parents of the bride or groom may enter according to the quarantine rules of the Ministry of Health. Additional close family members may enter only if they are vaccinated or recovered. The application for entry is made by contacting the Israeli representative office at the applicant’s place of residence.

Bar / Bat Mitzvah: Arriving at a Bar / Bat Mitzvah of an Israeli citizen will be approved for immediate family members only if they are vaccinated or recovered. The application is made by contacting the Israeli representative office at the applicant’s place of residence.

Births: Arrivals for births are approved for first-degree relatives only, if they are vaccinated or recovered. The application is made by contacting the Israeli representative at the applicant’s place of residence.

Funerals: Arriving at a funeral held in Israel will be approved for first-degree mourners only (without the spouse) and for the funeral only (24 hours). Participation in Shiva takes place in accordance with the quarantine regulations of the Ministry of Health. The application is made by contacting the Israeli representative office at the applicant’s place of residence.

Spouses, Siblings and Parents of Lone Soldiers – Visits to a lone soldier will be approved for spouses, parents and siblings. The application is be made by contacting the Israeli representative office at the applicant’s place of residence.

Parents of National-Civil Service volunteers: Parents and siblings of “National-Civil Service” volunteers who live abroad and are interested in visiting Israel can apply through the Israeli representative office at their place of residence.

Entry of Foreign Business Persons: vaccinated foreign business persons wishing to attend business meetings in Israel are required to present a permit from the Ministry of Economy. Unvaccinated business people are also required to receive approval of the Ministry of Health. The application must be made by contacting the Israeli representative office at the applicant’s place of residence.

Entry of Foreign Workers: in the agriculture and construction industries will be approved, including the entry of foreign workers who went on maternity leave.

Experts: The entry of essential experts with permits will be approved (according to an agreement received from the relevant government ministry).

Permission for departure of foreign experts to visit their homeland and return to Israel: Foreign experts who wish to fly on a homeland vacation with their family members and have a one-year permit in hand, will submit their request to leave and return to Israel. The application for permission to re-enter will be submitted by the expert in the offices of the Population Administration before leaving Israel.

Volunteers in the Field of Welfare: The inviting organization must send a letter of invitation / recommendation to the relevant government office for a professional recommendation for the entry of foreign volunteers. That letter of recommendation, together with a list of the guests, will then be sent to the Population and Immigration Authority (tpop@piba.gov.il) for further processing.

Agricultural Volunteers: The inviting organization will contact the Ministry of Agriculture for a professional recommendation for the entry of volunteers in a letter together with a list of the names of the volunteers and a letter of approval from the Ministry of Health, which will be sent to the Population and Immigration Authority (tpop@piba.gov.il) for further treatment.

Medical Tourism: Approval will be given in life-saving cases only, via a letter of approval from the director and/or deputy director of the relevant hospital.

Foreign Caregivers: Entry of foreign caregiver will be approved in accordance with the usual procedures, including the entry of foreign workers who went on maternity leave. The caregiver will be required to be vaccinated upon arrival in Israel.

Clergy: The entry of A3 clerics and B4 veterans will be approved, with the submission of a letter of request accompanied by the recommendation of the Testimony Division and approval by the Ministry of Health regarding the conditions of isolation.

The entry of artists, cultural figures and athletes will be approved subject to the recommendation of the Director General of the Ministry of Culture and Sports. The application will be submitted to the offices of the Population Administration by the inviting body.

Foreign journalists who wish to enter Israel must have an application submitted for them by a representative of the Israeli media to the Bureau of the Population Administration together with an isolation declaration form.

Journalists who are coming to a permanent job or for a period of one year or more, will also be asked to attach a recommendation from the Government Press Office (GPO). In cases where there is no representation of the media outlet in Israel, the application must be submitted through an Israeli representative at the place where the journalist will be staying.

Those who are vaccinated or who have documentation proving recovery from COVID-19 must still perform a serological test 72 hours prior to boarding with negative results to be submitted ahead of the flight.

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for Babble.com, Chabad.org and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.
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