To encourage immigration, Israel passed the Law of Return in 1950. This allows all Jews the right to immigrate to Israel and become Israeli citizens.
You are considered Jewish if you are a practising Jew, the child of a Jew, or the grandchild of a Jew. The government gives recent Jewish immigrants special privileges and discounts, such as housing stipends and tax breaks. Immigrants receive citizenship upon arrival in Israel.
The process of immigration to Israel is called aliyah. The Jewish Agency assists with the immigration process. They have aliyah representatives abroad who review individuals and grant immigrant (oleh) status to non-nationals. Many of these representatives are associated with aliyah absorption centres, which help non-nationals plan their immigration process.
Getting immigrant status
To obtain immigrant status, a non-national must present a valid passport and proof of Jewishness to an aliyah absorption centre. To prove your Jewishness, you must present your aliyah organisation with a letter from your rabbi. They will also accept a conversion certificate or your parents' marriage certificate if they were married by a Jewish religious authority, or your grandparents' marriage certificate under the same conditions.
You must submit the following documents to an aliyah absorption centre:
- eligibility documents (obtained from the centre)
- birth certificate
- marriage certificate (if applicable)
- health form
A Jewish legal representative will interview you about your reasons for immigrating, your family history, and immigration plans. The representative will determine if you are eligible for immigration and will notify Israel's Ministry of Immigrant Absorption.
If you qualify, the Ministry will extend an immigration invitation to you. You will receive an Israeli identification card (teudat zehut) and an immigration certificate (teudat oleh). The certificate acts as your immigration visa and a proof of citizenship.
Most aliyah centres offer similar services and will help you find housing and jobs. Popular centres include the Centre for Aliyah and Nefesh B'Nefesh. If there is no aliyah centre near you, the Jewish Agency or your Jewish legal representative will guide you through the immigration process.
Jewish temporary resident visa
Jewish individuals who aren't sure if they want to immigrate may obtain an A1 visa. Only Jews who qualify for immigration may obtain this type of visa. This visa allows you to try life in Israel. It grants you temporary resident status and is valid for one year.
If the holder of an A1 visa decides to live in Israel, he must notify the Ministry of Immigrant Absorption. They will change the individual's status from visitor to immigrant. The government will issue an immigration certificate to the individual.
New immigrants have special privileges, such as tax deductions. There is a limit on how long you have access to those privileges. For immigrants who change their status, the time limit is counted from the day the A1 visa was issued.
Visas for non-Jewish family members
Eligibility for immigration extends to non-Jewish spouses and children, who may obtain a visitor's visa before departure of their home country. The Ministry of the Interior gives this visa to you.