Knesset Forces PIBA to Exempt Visa Holders From New Pre-Flight Screening Procedure

Victory! Following our voiced objections two weeks ago, the Knesset Interior Committee changes the wording of the amendment, so the vast majority of visa holders are exempted from the new pre-flight procedure that could result in boarding denials.

Yesterday the Interior Committee held an additional discussion and a vote about amendment 34 to the Law of Entry to Israel. The amendment is set to enact a pre border control system that will allow PIBA to deny the boarding to flights to Israel for certain passengers who are going to be denied entry at the border.

During the previous discussion, two weeks I fought against the stance of the Ministry of Justice, to exempt only citizens and permanent residence from the option to deny their boarding to a flight to Israel. I demanded that partners of Israeli in the gradual process, and other visa holders will be exempted from this screening process. I kept pushing for this in the last two weeks, via emails and through parliament members.

Despite the objection of the Ministry of Justice (and the personal attack against us after the previous discussion by their representative), my opinion was heard by the Committee and the amendment was re-written, to exclude all visa holders who have a resident status, or who are allowed to work in Israel (and have an inter-visa) from the pre-screening procedure. This means that all visa holders A1, A2, A3, A4, A5, B1 will be exempted from this screening.

The addition that we fought for during the editing process of the law by the Interior Committee

The exemption of visa holders is EXTREMLY important, as the government plans to use this new clause also in future cases of flight bans and entry bans during global pandemics. The exemption of visa holders in this law means that PIBA not The Ministry of Health will be able to limit visa holders from flying to Israel based on this law.

Just to clarify, tourists, who aren’t exempted, don’t need to do anything differently. This is a “backstage” automatic process that isn’t supposed to affect 99% of people. However, partners of Israelis who started the gradual process and did not yet receive an entry visa or an “invitation” to Israel, are subject to an entry denial at the border, and because of the new amendment, also a boarding denial. Read more about entry to Israel in the gradual process – here.

It is important to note, that the amendment and the exemption of visa holders is only relevant to the new pre-flight screening process. Visa holders, like all passengers who aren’t citizens, are still facing regular border control procedures and may be denied entry for various reasons, according to section 9 of the Entry to Israel Law.

Click here to view the full amendment in its final version (Hebrew).

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Adv. Lior Beres
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