In the last few weeks, we got a couple of reports about remarks made by PIBA clerks regarding the “validity” of the time periods in which partner visas were automatically extended – in the count towards the completion of the gradual process.
To remind you, during 2022 PIBA released an automatic extension of visas, in order to relief stress and backlog that was piling up in all departments in their offices. The first extension occurred on February 28th 2022, and with it thousands of partner visas (and other visas) were extended automatically for a period of 6 additional months. The second extension occurred on August 9th 2022, and resulted in an automatic extension of 3 months. Some visa holders were affected by both sweeping extensions.
Recently, AIC got reports from couples saying that PIBA clerks at the Jerusalem and Hadera offices, were mentioning that the 6 months extension period will not be counted towards the 4-year time requirement on A5 visa to become eligible to apply for Israeli citizenship or permanent residency. Some clerks were even refusing to schedule status upgrade appointments that were following the original 4-year timeframe, because of said extensions.
Once we received substantial information about these occurrences, AIC founder Adv. Lior Beres has contacted PIBA headquarters to get some clarity on this topic. To clarify, PIBA partner visa procedures and protocols don’t authorize clerks to extend the gradual process because of automatic visa extensions. In addition, after the 1st automatic extension round we got a written confirmation from PIBA headquarters saying that gradual process timelines are not affected by the extension – and that status upgrade meetings should take place as scheduled.
We have recently heard back from PIBA about these incidents at the Hadera and Jerusalem office. PIBA confirmed that the information that was given by the clerks is wrong – and said that it is a local error and not policy. They have also assured us that following our inquiry, they have forwarded a directive on the subject to the district managers.
In addition, they asked us to notify them about additional offices that may have given wrong information on this topic, or have refused to give service because of the visa extensions. Please contact us ASAP if you encountered such issues.
The Israeli Association for International Couples is here to speak the up in the name of the community – and ensure that PIBA officials conduct the gradual process justly and in accordance with their procedures and the law. We would like to thank the team at PIBA headquarters for collaborating with us on this subject!