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No need for plane ticket before applying to come to Israel

CM 04/05/2021

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In good news for olim (immigrants) and others, close relatives of Israeli nationals who wish to visit Israel no longer have to purchase a flight before submitting an application for an entry permit.
Last month, the government allowed the vaccinated, first-degree relatives of Israeli citizens to enter the country for any reason, after months of exceedingly strict controls due to the corona pandemic.
Until now, it was necessary for those relatives applying for an entry permit to present proof that a plane ticket had been bought, and applications could only be submitted 14 days before the date of the flight.
Israeli consulates processing the entry request applications have been overwhelmed with applications, which caused delays in processing the requests.
Applicants who had not received an entry permit became increasingly anxious about the fate of their flight as the date approached, and in some situations the entry permit request was not approved by the date of the flight, meaning the applicant incurred the cancellation costs.
The issue was resolved four days after The Jerusalem Post addressed the problem in an editorial on Friday, asking why the government was not more mindful of the emotional needs of olim and their relatives.”As the nation-state of the Jewish people, Israel is tasked with finding immediate and creative solutions to allow for world Jewry to enter Israel with ease while taking the state’s legitimate health concerns into account,” said Diaspora Affairs Minister Omer Yankelevich.

“I appreciate the cooperation of the Population and Immigration Authority and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in responding to the concerns and requests that flooded in from across the Jewish world. In my role as Minister of Diaspora Affairs, my office serves as a convener between world Jewry and the Government of Israel. We will continue to work on behalf of Jewish communities worldwide and support them however possible.”

Former MK Rabbi Dov Lipman, who has worked for months helping Israelis and relatives of Israelis get in and out of the country, welcomed the new policy.
“On a daily basis I have been dealing with the panic of applicants whose flight dates arrive without approvals and ask for help,” said Lipman. “The anxiety and desperation in their voices has been one of the most horrible aspects of this process. And then there has been the emotional pain and economic damage for those who actually missed their flights while waiting for approval. Now people wanting to visit their first-degree relatives in Israel who fit the criteria can apply without panic, wait for their approval and then book their ticket.” 
Having received many requests for help regarding this problem, Yankelevich sought in recent days to resolve the issue with the Population and Immigration Authority of the Interior Ministry.
The requirement to book a flight before applying for an entry permit has now been canceled.
The new policy is effective immediately, although officials in Yankelevich’s office said it is possible it will take some consulates a few days to be appraised of the new policy.
Entry permits will still only be valid for 14 days leaving a short window to purchase a flight, although efforts are afoot to lengthen this period to 30 days.
The Population and Immigration Authority said that it had never formally required applicants to obtain a ticket before applying for an entry permit, although in practice many if not all Israeli consulates made this a requirement, and would not process applications without proof of a flight.
Yankelevich’s office told the Post that it has now also helped secure a new policy whereby foreign yeshiva students studying in Israel, or others who were present at the Meron disaster, can leave the country to be with their families to receive emotional support, and be guaranteed an entry permit back into the country to continue with their studies.
Yankelevich has received dozens of requests from foreign students who were present at the disaster for assistance in being able to leave the country for a short time and then return to their studies.

Source: Jerusalem Post

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