This article includes information about touristic entry of partners of Israelis into Israel. It gives a general outlook on the entry policy to Israel and is updated as of June 2022. Please make sure you make adequate research and consult governmental officials to get the most updated and accurate information for your situation.
This post is relevant for citizens of countries who enjoy a visa-waiver program with Israel. Meaning, they don’t need to apply for a tourist visa (B2 visa) in advance, and they can get it at the border. Check out the full list of countries that enjoy the visa-waiver program for their citizens entering Israel for touristic purposes.
It is important to know that according to Israeli law, no foreign citizen whatsoever is entitled to enter Israel. Israel and PIBA (like many other countries) keep a very broad discretion when it comes to entry to Israel of foreign citizens, even from visa-waiver countries, and regardless of their relation to Israelis.
Entry to Israel as a Partner of an Israeli for a Visit or Tourism
In general, foreign partners of Israelis are just like any other foreign citizen when it comes to the entry policy to Israel for a “Visit Stay”. A “Visit Stay” is a term that is defined in the Entry to Israel Regulations:
An applicant to enter Israel for a visit, or for any other purpose that requires only a short stay in Israel, except for the purpose of work, paid or unpaid, will submit an application for a visa and a visit stay permit type B2 (tourist).
This means that people who intend to stay in Israel for a limited amount of time (3 months or less), for a visit, and then leave, should be able to get a B2 tourist visa. Being in a relationship with an Israeli, on its own, isn’t one of the listed indications that support an entry denial for a foreign citizen that means to enter Israel for touristic purposes.
HOWEVER, being in a relationship with an Israeli, might “trigger” one of the other listed indications, primarily the “fear of settling” indication, or in Hebrew: חשש להשתקעות. This indication, listed twice on procedure 6.4.0010, is one of the main reasons passengers are refused entry at the border. In general, it is mostly used “against” citizens of non-western countries, usually from South America, East Asia, Eastern Europe (primarily Russia and Ukraine), Africa, etc.
Another aspect that is taken into account is the age of the passenger and their “place” in life. Border control personnel might ask a passenger about their employment status, whether they are doing any academic studies or any other indication that connects them to where they live. Being in your 20s to early 30s, having no job, and no real ties to your home country, might result in an entry denial to Israel because of a suspicion that you plan to settle in Israel.
This is true for all passengers, but especially for partners of Israelis, who have a special relation to Israel as they are likely to want to be with their partner (and therefore stay in Israel).
How to Avoid an Entry Denial When Arriving at Israel for a Visit?
- Always say the truth. Lying is actually another listed indication that tells border control to deny your entry. Being caught lying by border control, almost certainly means an entry denial and an entry ban for 5-10 years that is hard to remove. If asked, you can say that you are coming to visit your Israeli partner but make it very clear that it is just a visit for a limited time.
- Consider pre-arranging your visa. If you are coming to visit your Israeli partner, and you are a citizen of a non-western country and have never been to Israel before, it is highly advisable that your partner submits an application for a tourist visa for you, ahead of your arrival. Some PIBA offices may try to brush you off and say “It is not needed” (for citizens of countries that are on a visa-waiver program with Israel), and despite that, we still advise you to insist and get the tourist visa in advance. Check this post (coming soon!) for more information about tourist visas to Israel.
- Show that your center of life is elsewhere. If you don’t have a pre-arranged tourist visa, to avoid an entry denial, show that your center of life is elsewhere and that you have no intention to stay in Israel. The first and most obvious thing to have with you is a return flight ticket. If you are undergoing a further investigation, you can show a job contract or an apartment rent contract. You can show you are registered at University, or even that you take care of family members who are abroad.
- In addition, it is advised to have a printed signed letter from your Israeli partner ready at hand. The letter should include the full name of the Israeli partner, their ID number, their phone number, and preferably a photocopy of the ID as well. It should indicate what is the relationship between you and them, where you are going to stay, when you are going to leave, and what is the purpose of the visit. Do not hand this paper right away unless specifically asked about something like it, or unless you’re taken into further investigation.
What happens if my entry was denied?
First of all, try to stay calm. The experience might be very unpleasant but freaking out/shouting/losing it is likely not going to help your case.
In case of an entry denial, PIBA will arrange a flight back for you. Depending on how soon is your flight back, PIBA may escort you to a not-very-welcoming waiting facility at the airport where you will be waiting for your flight. You should be handed a paper notifying you of the entry denial, and saying that you have 30 days to appeal the decision. Given that your flight back is likely to be only a few hours away, time is crucial if you want to overturn the decision while in Israel. Once finalized, the entry denial decision can be overturned only with a judicial decision given in an appeal.
You can decide between going back to your country or trying to appeal the decision. If you decided to appeal, we highly recommend hiring an immigration lawyer to file an appeal to the PIBA Tribunal of Appeals, as people without legal education will find it difficult to exhaust their rights in this procedure.
All appeals will have to be supported by an affidavit that requires a lawyer’s/magistrate’s court signature. The fee for submitting an appeal (as of June 2023) is 703 NIS.
Please note that you can appeal the decision even if you weren’t handed any paper. Please note that PIBA is entitled to go on with the deportation process even if you filed an appeal, as long as there isn’t any tribunal decision that says otherwise.
These are the contact details of the refusals facility (מתקן יהלו”ם) at the airport: