The state of Israel has a very strict immigration law and puts a lot of effort into making sure that it is kept. I will try to make it simple; every person that is Jewish is allowed to move to Israel. For everyone else, you need to have a very specific reason, – for example getting hired in an Israeli company, being an exchange student, or getting married to an Israeli, as I did.
If you do not own Israeli citizenship, you have to prove that you have Jewish roots, to be allowed to move to Israel. For people with Jewish roots, you need to go through a process of confirming that you are Jewish. You can get help with this through an organization called Jewish Agency, which is established in many countries, with a main mission: to help Jews return to their homeland.
After the process is finished, you will receive a legal status, which determines your rights and benefits.
In our case, Ariel already had an Israeli citizenship, but since he lived abroad for 20 years (and left Israel before the age of 14), he was eligible to get the status “new immigrant”, which means economical support, help to find job, apartment, car, free Hebrew course, and other cool stuff. Anyways, our applications were denied because of other issues (believing in Jesus and things like that), and Ariel received the status “returning citizen” (which is equal to an Israeli living abroad for two years).
I came to the country with a one-way ticket, on a tourist visa, seven months pregnant. At the time, I saw no reason why this would be challenging, but with the knowledge I have today, I cannot believe I had no doubts about how this would spin out.
We immediately started to process for applying for a work visa. Getting an appointment to apply, would take 3 months. We didn’t have that time, because I was closing up on my due date, and we needed to get into a health organization, so I could give birth in a hospital, without it costing a fortune.
Luckily, Ariel’s aunt who works at a lawyer’s office managed to pull some strings, and after 1,5 months, we could apply for a visa. At that meeting, we were told that there was no way we would get any benefits or membership in a health organization, at least for another year or so. Meaning, all the cost of my birth would be on us.
This was all new and shocking information for us and was not in our moving budget.
We made some more phone calls. To our great surprise, there´s always another way in Israel. If you fight hard enough. So there I was, 9 months pregnant, I hadn’t had a pregnancy checkup or scanning in 3 months, my due date was 3 days away and my contractions were starting. As they speed up, Ariel walks in the door with a paper, saying we can go to the hospital without having to take up a loan to pay the bills. 18 hours later, Sela was born. Since we had a week’s stay at the hospital, we were incredibly thankful for that piece of paper.
How that managed to succeed, only God knows, but we are extremely thankful that we decided to trust Him 100% in that situation.
After 18 months in Israel, I got my very own Israeli personal ID number and could register in a health organization, where I would get free access to doctors, dentists, hospitals and so on.
Today, we are applying for a work visa for 2020, and we will have to do this process once a year, the next two years, and then I can apply for a temporary residence visa. For now, we are taking one year at the time. We intend to stay in Israel as long as it feels like the right place for us to be.
Which visas do they have in Israel?
A/1 Temporary Resident visa
A/2 Student visa
A/3 Clergy visa
A/4 visa for spouses and children
B/1 Work visa
B/2 Visitor’s visa
You can read all about them here: https://mfa.gov.il/MFA/ConsularServices/Pages/Visas.aspx