On February 28th 2022, many visa holders in Israel were surprised to receive a text message, saying that their visa was extended until a certain date (6 months after the original expiry date of the visa), and that they shouldn’t apply for a renewal of their visa for the time being. So what has actually happened and how does it affect you? Let’s dive in!
What happened and why?
Some time after the initial country-wide panic that was caused by the text messages, it has become clear that PIBA has extended the validity of MOST temporary Israeli visas by 6 months. According to their official statement, that was published days after the text-messages fiasco, these are the visas that were extended: A/1, A/2, A/3, A/4, A/5, B/1 General (incl. B1 partner), B/4.
The extensions of visas came as a result of the current bottle-neck situation at PIBA offices. PIBA have specified that some of the manpower of the visa departments were allocated to deal with passport and ID production for Israeli citizens, and immigration absorption from Ukraine.
What it means is this: If on February 28th 2022 you had a valid visa from the visas listed above, it is most likely that your visa was extended by 6 months electronically and automatically. The extension is synced on the systems of PIBA, that are connected to the systems of other governmental offices, such as National Security, Ministry of Transportation, the police etc.
Pay attention! Intervisas (multiple-entry visas) were NOT extended. Please keep reading for further instructions
Pay attention! Restricted B1 working visas were NOT extended. This includes expert visa, caretaking visas, construction visas etc.
What if I didn’t get a text message?
If on February 28th you had a valid visa of the visas listed above, it is likely that your visa was extended, even if you didn’t get a text message notifying you about the extension. The reason for that should be PIBA not having your mobile phone number registered in their systems.
However, it is possible that your visa wasn’t automatically extended for various reasons. Therefore, if you didn’t get a SMS, please contact the PIBA branch that handles your file to make sure about the validity of your visa.
What about the visa sticker in my passport that is expiring?
I understand you are alarmed by the fact that the visa sticker in your passport, and maybe even your Israeli ID is expiring. But don’t worry! It doesn’t mean your visa / legal status is expiring. The extension of your visa should be updated in all governmental systems.
If you have any personal issues caused by the lack of a valid visa sticker or a valid ID card (ex. related to your employer), please contact your PIBA office and ask them to issue a new, updated visa sticker / ID for you.
Can I go abroad and return to Israel despite the expired visa sticker?
No, but only because of the intervisa.
Technically, the expired main visa sticker is meaningless for your ability to enter Israel, because as soon as border personnel will scan your passport, they will be able to see your extended visa (given that your visa was actually extended).
HOWEVER, your intervisa was not automatically extended. The intervisa is CRUCIAL for travelling abroad and returning to Israel, as it is the thing that keeps your main visa valid when going abroad. Therefore, before leaving Israel, make sure to apply and pay for a new intervisa, at your local PIBA office.
According to an official policy clarification that was sent to me by PIBA, intervisas will be issued upon presentation of a flight ticker. At the same instance, ask them to print you a new sticker for the main visa, that will show the new expiration date.
A5 visa holders (temporary residents) who need to travel abroad will be issued a sticker and an updated biometric ID upon presentation of a flight ticket.
An intervisa costs 175 NIS. A new sticker for the main visa should be free of charge (as per the automatic extension).
I was supposed to apply for a status upgrade in the next meeting. What happens now?
Hopefully nothing changes.
One of my main goals when hearing about this extensions move was to ensure the proper functioning of existing gradual processes. Therefore, I reached out PIBA about this and was answered by Mrs. Natali Or-Chen, Deputy Head of Population Administration at PIBA, that branches were instructed to hold status upgrade meetings (changing from B1 to A5 or A5 to PR/Citizen) as usual.
That means, that any meeting that you had scheduled, that is related with a status upgrade (incl. interviews, document submission etc.) should be held as usual.
If you have a such meeting coming up, please contact your PIBA office asap to make sure the meeting is being held as usual and that it wasn’t cancelled due to the extension of your current visa.
Despite PIBA’s clear policy to hold status upgrade meetings as usual, there have been numerous cases of PIBA offices cancelling meetings against policy.
In case your branch cancelled your status-upgrade meeting, postponed it by a great time, or is refusing to schedule it, please contact us asap.