Suppose you're an immigrant to Israel under the Law of Return (known as an "Oleh" or "Olim" for plural) or an Israeli living abroad. In that case, you're eligible to possess an Israeli passport. However, Israeli authorities discourage obtaining citizenship solely for the ease of relocating to other countries. A specific issue arises when individuals exercise their right of Return just to acquire an Israeli passport without making Israel their primary place of residence. Such people can face problems when using or renewing their Israeli passports. So, how long do you have to stay in Israel after making Aliyah to avoid these complications? We'll delve into that question in this article.

Our legal team specializes in matters related to Aliyah and residency in Israel. This article aims to discuss and elucidate the intricacies of quickly securing a passport for new immigrants and the renewal process for Israelis who have moved abroad.

What Does the Law Say About Passports for Those Eligible for the Right of Return but Living Abroad?

Various individuals can immigrate to Israel under the Law of Return. This law encompasses Jews who are eligible under Section 1 of the Law of Return, 1950, as well as family members of Jews who can immigrate under Section 4A(A) of the same law. For many reasons-family obligations, business opportunities, or educational pursuits-many people who could potentially make Aliyah are not interested in settling in Israel permanently. Instead, their primary interest is obtaining Israeli citizenship and the accompanying passport.

Attorney Joshua Pex, an expert in Israeli immigration law, sheds light on the Passports Law (Amendment No. 9), 2017. This amendment stipulates that a newly obtained Israeli passport will initially be restricted for one year. This is meant to ensure the individual intends to establish a permanent residence in Israel. Again, the question arises: How long do you have to stay in Israel after making Aliyah to satisfy these requirements?

Is Israel Making it Easier for Immigrants with Jewish Roots to Gain Citizenship, Even if They Don't Intend to Settle There?

Before the 9th Amendment to the Israeli Passports Law, the Interior Minister had the authority to withhold an Israeli passport valid for ten years from a new immigrant who had not committed to residing in Israel. Moreover, the Minister could only issue a passport if the immigrant had established a residence in Israel. This raised the question: How long do you have to stay in Israel after making Aliyah before you can obtain or renew your passport?

The amendment to the Passports Law aimed to simplify the process for new immigrants. Prior to this change, those who didn't move to Israel permanently often had to make do with a temporary travel document known as a "teudat ma'avar." This discouraged many prospective immigrants worldwide from making the move to Israel.

While the 9th Amendment did not explicitly say that Israel encourages eligible immigrants to become citizens even if they have no intention of living in the country, the operational outcome suggests just that. Now, people eligible for Return could gain Israeli citizenship and receive a standard first passport valid for a decade without the obligation of relocating to Israel.

What Modifications Were Made to the Law After Media Reports on Immigrants Leaving Israel?

In response to widespread media coverage, including an investigative report by Raviv Drucker focusing particularly on immigrants from Russia and Ukraine, a compromise was arrived at. Now, a new immigrant will receive an Israeli passport valid for only one year upon arrival. If the individual stays in Israel for most of this period, the passport can be renewed for an additional five years. After residing in Israel for these five years, the person will then be eligible for a ten-year passport. This adjustment raises a common question: How long do you have to stay in Israel after making Aliyah to secure these various passport renewals?

What Occurs if an Immigrant Doesn't Reside in Israel After the First Year?

If, after the first year, the Ministry of Interior ascertains that the new immigrant has not established residency in Israel, the provisions of the 9th Amendment won't apply. In such cases, the Minister of Interior can limit the duration of the renewed passport or issue a "laissez-passer" document instead.

Section 6A(A) of the Passports Law allows the Minister to decide the conditions under which a passport may not be extended or provided to Israelis living abroad, except for returning to Israel. The length and terms of any passport extension remain discretionary to the Minister of Interior unless there are compelling reasons otherwise. Therefore, a new immigrant who has yet to settle in Israel might face challenges when trying to renew the passport after the first year.

What Are Your Options if Your Passport Renewal Is Denied?

According to Sections 9(A) and 9(B) of the Passports Law, the Minister of Interior can delegate his or her authority to subordinates. Anyone who believes a subordinate's decision has unjustly impacted them can appeal directly to the Minister for a final ruling. Every denial regarding passport issuance or extension can be challenged before the Minister of Interior. Until the Minister provides a "final ruling," one can argue that administrative procedures have not been exhausted, thereby opening the door for judicial appeal.

Should the Minister's final decision prove unsatisfactory, legal recourse remains available through the appropriate court system.

How Can Legal Experts Assist in Passport Issues?

Our law firm in Israel, specializing in Aliyah and passport issues, represents numerous Olim who don't permanently reside in Israel. We guide them through the process of obtaining their initial Israeli passports. In addition, we file appeals against the Minister of Interior on this subject, including court petitions when a regular passport isn't provided to an Israeli citizen living abroad. If you're facing difficulties related to Israeli passports or pondering, "How long do you have to stay in Israel after making Aliyah?" our seasoned immigration lawyers in Jerusalem or Tel Aviv can offer valuable assistance.

By understanding the nuances and shifts in Israeli passport laws, potential Olim and current Israeli citizens can better navigate the complexities of holding dual citizenship and fulfill their legal obligations to the State of Israel.