AIC wishes safety and security to all international couples in Israel, their families and their loved ones.
This October 7th, Hamas initiated a deadly attack on Israel, launching thousands of rockets into the country, infiltrating Israeli territory and murdering over 1,300 civilians and soldiers.
AIC has been keeping regular updates with relevant information for international couples as the situation developed, on all its social media platforms, including Facebook and Instagram. Due to the nature of the situation and the rapidly changing information and policies, the most updated information will keep being posted to AIC’s official social media channels (including the social media “story”). If you are not following us on social media – now is the time:
Due to continued confusion about some topics, we are creating this FAQ page which includes only confirmed and official information, as well as professional explanations about possible scenarios in the still developing situation.
Are you / were you supposed to have an appointment during October, November or December? Please fill in our survey! It will help us work on solutions together with PIBA.
Latest Update: PIBA’s Response to AIC Inquiry
Update, November 15th (click here to read this update in Hebrew):
The Population and Immigration Authority responded in writing to an inquiry submitted by the Israeli Association for International Couples, addressing crucial visa issues currently faced by international couples in Israel due to the ongoing war.
This information, provided exclusively to AIC and not yet published, is presented as it was conveyed to AIC by the PIBA’s headquarters. After receiving the information, the association requested that it be published through the official channels of PIBA as soon as possible. The following is the information as received:
1. Visa applications of residents of Gaza envelope and Ashkelon – The Ashkelon PIBA office is not available for regular work due to missile damage to the government building in the city. The office will handle urgent and humanitarian cases only. For such inquiries, please send an email to the Ashkelon office (Ashrot-Ashkelon@piba.gov.il), and the request will be individually examined and processed by the office manager.
2. Visa extension for visa holders who are abroad – visa holders who are abroad are not eligible for a digital visa extension, which applies only to those whose center of life is in Israel and are currently in the country, according to the legal definition. When those visa holders return to Israel, they can contact PIBA for further processing of their request.
3. Return to Israel for those whose visa expired while abroad – Individuals whose visa expired while abroad will be allowed to re-enter Israel and will be granted a B2 visa at the border if they are from an exempt country. If not from an exempt country, they can arrange entry and receive a B2 visa through an Israeli embassy. This applies to couples in the gradual process who hold B1/A5 visas that expired while they were abroad due to the war.
4. In the case of returning to Israel after the expiration of the main visa, and receiving a B2 visa as written above, contact your office to schedule a meeting for the examination of your status and your gradual process.
5. Rescheduling appointments that were cancelled due to office closures – Contact the relevant office via email to schedule a new appointment.
6. Re-entry to Israel without a valid entry visa (“intervisa”) will be allowed (It has not been clarified whether a valid main visa (B1, A5 etc.) will be preserved without an entry visa).
7. The effect of a prolonged stay abroad (more than 3 months) on “center of life” requirement in the gradual process – Each case will be examined individually based on its circumstances.
8. Attending a visa meeting without the Israeli partner present due to active military service – If the Israeli partner is in active reserve duty, the non-Israeli partner should attend a scheduled visa meeting themselves, accompanied by evidence of the active service of the Israeli partner. The application will be examined according to the usual protocols, and an extension of the visa will be granted for half a year, after which the request will be re-examined together with the Israeli partner.
As mentioned, after receiving the information, the association turned to the Population Authority with a request that the information be published on the authority’s official channels.
In addition, the association demanded that an adequate solution be found for the residents of Ashkelon and the Gaza Envelope whose office was closed indefinitely, and that an alternative solution must be provided for those who require visa services (in addition to urgent humanitarian cases). We have also emphasized that the sweeping extension of visas granted until 8.2.24 is not sufficient as a solution to the closure of the office, as many pending applications are not related to the extension of an existing visa, such as applications to start the process and partner invitations, applications to upgrade status, naturalization, etc.
It should also be noted that the association has forwarded to PIBA details of dozens of essential meetings that were supposed to take place at the Ashkelon office, including those of couples who were evacuated from their homes, in order to advance their processing.
The Israeli Association for International Couples will continue to work to obtain official information regarding the human rights of Israelis and their partner who are undergoing visa procedures, and are also facing the war like the rest of Israel. The association will continue to fight so that the rights of international couples in Israel are not neglected and compromised, especially in changing times when certainty is crucial.
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PIBA Offices Operation
Open offices that have visa department (click here for daily updates): Eilat, Ashdod, Beer Sheva, Holon, Rishon Lezion, Rehovot, Ramla, Petah Tikva, Rosh HaAyin, Bnei Brak, Herzliya, Kfar Saba, Ramat Gan, Tel Aviv, Tel Aviv South (By appointment only), Jerusalem, Jerusalem South, Haifa, Hadera, Krayot, Netanya, Akko, Nof HaGalil, Afula, Tiberias, Safed.
Note! The Ashdod and Beer Sheva offices have consistently been reported of not allowing walk-in visa services, despite being listed as open normally. In addition, some offices only allow a limited amount of walk-ins due to limited staff.
It is expected that most offices will remain open during the week, unless there is a dramatic escalation of the security situation.
If you are outside of Israel and you have an upcoming meeting – we strongly advise to re-enter Israel and attend you meeting. Missing a visa meeting may have very long term implications on your naturalization process.
The list of open/closed offices (that have visa departments) is updated daily by PIBA (in the evening hours) and is available on our website, and our Facebook/Instagram story.
AIC worked very hard to voice the community of international couples, the main community that was hurt by the disproportionate and unjustly prolonged shut down. Please support our activity so we can keep it for in the following months and years. No one will do it other than ourselves.
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UPDATE October 24rd, 13:30: *This information is still relevant for offices that remain “closed”*
1. Some of the offices that are listed as “closed” are working behind closed doors. Meaning, they don’t hold meetings, but they continue processing applications, scheduling future appointments, and contacting couples about their applications via email or phone.
We have reports about communication with closed offices from Tel Aviv, Jerusalem (center), Holon, Rishon Letzion, Ramla, Hertzliya and Rehovot.
Please let us if you’ve been contacted by another closed branch.
2. Some reports surfaced specifically about the Rishon Letzion branch, that started to personally notify SOME couples that they should arrive to their scheduled visa meetings despite the office being listed as “closed”. In addition, some couples who missed their meetings in the last days were called in to arrive this week.
Additionally, reports about a similar activity came from the Jerusalem central office.
We can only confirm this about the Rishon Letzion and Jerusalem offices. We don’t know yet of other closed offices that accept meetings.
To clarify, all the closed offices are still officially closed and don’t accept appointments. Don’t go to your appointment if you weren’t specifically instructed to arrive (via phone or email).
*It is crucial that you will be available at the phone number and email that you provided to PIBA. Especially if you’re abroad, pay attention to remain available to get calls from blocked numbers from Israel.
3. The Nativ office in Jerusalem is still working and reportedly accepts meetings as usual.
4. AIC and other agents in the immigration community keep putting immense pressure on PIBA to reopen their offices. AIC has communicated with the head of PIBA about a reopen of the offices according to the rules of the Homefront Command. AIC has also sent several inquiries about the situation to other officials at PIBA. Keep following our updates.
In response to misinformation provided by PIBA’s call center regarding the status of appointments at offices labeled as “closed,” AIC has proactively contacted PIBA’s headquarters. We can confirm that the offices listed as “closed” do not currently accept any appointments, and that the issue at the call center has been fixed.
Second Round of Visa Extensions – October 30th
Update October 30th: SMS notifications about the second round of visa extensions have been sent out, following the announcement below. In addition please note that this round of visa extension does not include B1 restricted visas and there are other policies in place for those visa holders.
Update October 29th: PIBA has officially announced the extension of visas expiring within the next three months, until February 8th, 2024. Please note, as warned by AIC in the past, the extension only applies to visa holders who are currently in Israel, and not those who are abroad (even if they have a valid visa and intervisa). Please follow the instructions as below.
Update October 27th: Following telephone discussions between AIC’s chairperson, Adv. Lior Beres, with two top-ranking officials and decision-makers at PIBA earlier, we can share the following information. Please note that while we typically take caution to publish PIBA policies only once we have received written confirmation, due to the time sensitivity of the situation and its potential effect on the lives of thousands of international couples, we publish this information only with verbal confirmation.
As we have warned time and time again, we can confirm that under the current policy, visas of people who are outside of Israel will not receive a digital extension. This means that if PIBA is to roll out an additional round of sweeping extensions, every visa holder who is abroad will not have their visa extended.
We do not have information about when an additional digital extension of visas is set to take place, but it is likely to take place very soon, on the last days of October or the 1st of November. AIC has maintained our position to PIBA that the rights of partners of Israelis who are abroad should not be hurt, given the exceptional circumstances we are in. Despite our efforts, this is where things currently stand.
Therefore, to avoid the numerous probable issues related to letting your visa expire while abroad (listed in the FAQ below), we strongly advise non-Israelis currently abroad with a visa set to expire soon, to consider returning to Israel as soon as possible. Please note that PIBA is still looking into this and the other issues that we raised, taking into account the developing security situation. We will share additional information once we have it.
This is the official information about the second extension:
- Only valid visas expiring during November, December and January were extended.
- Visa holders who are currently abroad did not have their visa extended. The extension only applies to visa holder who were inside Israel at the time it was rolled out.
- The extension includes “double extension” – it is possible a person got their visa extended in the first round of extension (until November 9th) and then again in this round of extensions.
- All visa types that meet these conditions were extended (supposedly including tourist visas), except for B/1 restricted working visas (caregiving, agriculture, experts etc) that have different extension conditions.
- All visas that met the conditions were extended until February 8th, irrespective of their original expiry.
- The visa extension does not imply a cancellation of a scheduled visa meeting.
- Intervisas were not extended – as per usual, intervisas (entry visas) are not extended during automatic extensions.
First Round of Visa Extensions – October 9th
AIC reached out to PIBA in the first days of the fighting, advocating for the crucial automatic extension of visas due to the closure of PIBA offices. AIC also urged PIBA to expedite their response in this matter.
AIC’s efforts have borne fruit, as it became the first organization to obtain and publicly confirm PIBA’s plans for the forthcoming visa extension. This announcement was followed by PIBA’s official update on their website later the same day.
The extension itself rolled out via text message, as per usual, on the late morning hours of October 9th. The text message is normally sent to the mobile phone number of the visa holder, and includes the following content:
This is the official information about first extension:
- Only visas expiring during the month of October were extended
- Only visas that were valid on October 8th were extended
- All visa types that meet these conditions were extended, including restricted working visas (that were not eligible in past extensions) and supposedly tourist visas too.
- All visas that met the conditions were extended until November 9th, irrespective of their expiry date during October.
Additional important information about the automatic extension:
- The visa extension does not imply a cancellation of a visa meeting.
- Intervisas were not extended – as per usual, intervisas (entry visas) are not extended during automatic extensions.
- If you were abroad on October 8th or October 9th, and you didn’t get a SMS notification about the extension – it is most likely your visa was NOT automatically extended.
- We can confirm that restricted work visas and in-passport tourist visas (i.e tourist visa that were extended in Israel and PIBA has contact data of their holder) were a part of the automatic extension.
- If the war situation will linger and PIBA offices will remain closed, an additional visa extension is to be expected.
AIC’s Efforts to Find Solutions for International Couples
AIC continues to alert officials at PIBA about critical issue on real time. We make sure to regularly communicate ongoing issues to high-ranking PIBA officials and stay in touch with parliament members, the media and additional players in the field of immigration in order to drive change and find solutions.
AIC is one of the only players in the immigration field that maintains direct contact with PIBA officials during the war.
Considering the ongoing armed conflict and the likelihood of a prolonged campaign, AIC has conducted a comprehensive analysis of the challenges faced by international couples in Israel, in light of a potential extended closure of the Population Authority offices.
In a formal communication sent to both Minister of the Interior MK Moshe Arbel and the head of the Population Authority, Mr. Eyal Sisso, AIC has identified six critical issues, outlined anticipated challenges, and provided practical, actionable solutions to address them.
AIC is leading the charge in advocating for international couples’ rights in these trying times of war. We keep urging both the Minister of the Interior and PIBA to provide adequate solutions in order to mitigate the impact on Israelis and their non-Israeli partners.
- I got a text message saying that my visa was digitally extended. Was my intervisa extended too?No, intervisas are never digitally extended. An intervisa has to be manually extended at PIBA at the office, subject to paying a visa fee.
- My visa was digitally extended, is my meeting canceled?
NO! If your office is open, you go to your meeting as usual. Especially if it’s a meeting related with a status upgrade, PIBA must not delay gradual process timelines due to digital visa extensions.
If you were refused service with the excuse of the extension, please contact our support email.
- My Israeli partner is in the army and cannot come to the meeting. What should I do?
First, the Israeli partner should try to attend the meeting if possible. If absolutely impossible, please attend your meeting alone. Bring all the documents that you were asked to bring. If you can, bring any proof related with the military service of the Israeli partner (for example “Tzav Shmone”). Include a letter in Hebrew from the Israeli partner explaining the situation and attesting to the continuation of the relationship (a video could be a good addition, too).
If you were refused service because the Israeli partner could not attend, please contact us.
- I want to leave but my visa expires soon. What should I do?
You can leave Israel with a valid visa and an intervisa as usual. If you don’t have an intervisa, please get one at your PIBA office. Please be aware that you will have to return to Israel before your visa expires or you will lose your status. In case PIBA will roll out a sweeping digital extension of visas, it will not apply to visa holders who are abroad.
- Will I be able to re-enter Israel if my visa expires while abroad?
Following our many inquires on this subject, PIBA has released a quite ambiguous statement regarding entry to Israel of non-Israelis. In response to a follow up inquiry AIC has made, PIBA has confirmed the following policy for visa holders whose visa expired abroad:
- Citizens of visa-waiver countries – will be able to re-enter Israel and get a B2 (tourist) status at the border
- Citizens of non visa-waiver countries – will have to settle their entry through the Israel embassy at their country (probably following an invitation process by the Israeli)
- What happens if my visa expires?
Expiry of your visa can be problematic in a few ways:
1. If you have left Israel, you may have trouble to re-enter Israel, especially if your country of citizenship does not have visa-free access to Israel (read above).
2. You will lose your right to work in Israel and any other rights related to status.
3. A5 holders – you may lose recognition of your Israeli residency, and therefore lose Bituach Leumi coverage, public health insurance, etc.
4. PIBA is likely to not count any time period you spent without a valid visa towards your gradual process timeline.
5. Regaining your previous status will require a meeting at PIBA and reevaluation of your gradual process. You may have trouble regaining your partner status quickly due to shortage of visa staff and lack of available appointments.
- I want to get an intervisa but my office is closed. What should I do?
AIC is currently advocating for a global exemption from intervisas, due to the current situation, the hurried exiting of the country of many visa holders, and the low availability of visa services.
Until then, an intervisa is still required in order for visas holders (including permanent residents) to re-enter Israel. Try applying at one of the open offices during walk-in hours (usually at opening, 8:00).
- My visa was digitally extended, how can I prove it?
Other than an SMS text message, there isn’t any way to confirm the extension of a partner visa. This is one of the issues that AIC addressed in its official inquiry.
If you crucially need a new visa sticker to prove your status, try applying at the one of the open offices (see above).
- I’m outside of Israel with a valid visa but without intervisa. What’s going to happen?
PIBA is authorized to let you in even without an intervisa as a “last resort” measure, as long as your main visa is valid, and as long as you have never asked to be let in without an intervisa in the past. Read the protocol here.
In addition, in response to AIC’s inquiry, PIBA confirmed on November 15th that visa holders who don’t have an intervisa will be allowed to re-enter Israel. HOWEVER, it is still unclear whether the main status (B1, A5 etc.) will be preserved in case of re-entry without a valid intervisa.
This does not mean you may leave Israel without an intervisa! A valid intervisa remains a mandatory requirement to re-enter Israel!
- I heard they might not let non-Israelis enter Israel soon.
This is a baseless rumor with no reliable information or precedent to support it. AIC has contacted the PIBA Manager of border control at Ben Gurion Airport, and they have confirmed that such a restriction is not currently in place, nor is it planned to be implemented.
However, in case of dramatic escalation of the attacks, the Ben Gurion airport might be partially or completely shut down for all passengers (including Israelis). In this case, flights may be redirected to Ramon airport.
- My visa expires in November, December… What’s going to happen?
Please read above about the second round of extensions.
- I had a scheduled visa meeting that was cancelled due to my office being closed. What should I do?
The meeting will have to be rescheduled. PIBA has confirmed on November 15th that applicants should email their office in order to reschedule a cancelled meeting. We can confirm some offices including Tel Aviv, Rishon Letzion and more have started summoning people whose meetings were cancelled. Please keep following AIC’s updates.
- How long can I be abroad without affecting my partner visa process?
There isn’t any written rule about staying abroad during the gradual process, other than before applying for Israeli citizenship. The general guideline, used by most PIBA offices to determine center of life in Israel, is a physical presence in Israel at least 75% of the year (up to 3 months abroad per year).
PIBA’s response to AIC on this matter from November 15th, said that each case will be examined individually based on its circumstances.
AIC is working around the clock to protect the rights of international couples in Israel during these challenging times. We are the only organization making sure that our community’s needs are prioritized by policymakers. Your support is vital in sustaining these efforts – please consider making a donation today.