By Amit Acco, Partner – Pro Bono Legal Service |

In 2021, there are about 28,000 asylum seekers from Eritrea and Sudan in Israel (23,100 from Eritrea and about 6,400 from Sudan). There is also a small community of about 300 asylum seekers from the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Israel has signed in the year 1951 the United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and the International Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees of 1967. This later protocol removes certain limitations of the 1951 UN Refugees Convention.

The Convention defines a refugee as a person who has been forced to leave his country due to

“a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion”.

Israel recognizes that the lives of these refugees would be in danger if they were to be refouled to their countries of origin and therefore has refrained from deporting them.

According to the Convention, a refugee may not be deported to his country of origin or to another place where his life or liberty is in danger due to persecution. In addition, a refugee is not subject to whatever punishment the country he escaped to has for illegal immigrants. Also, the UN Convention for refugees states that an asylum seeker may not be deported from the said country (since the refugee flees to another country out of fear for his life, rather than for illegal purposes)

How an Application Can Be Submitted

The initial application can be submitted to the Ministry of Interior online, by Asylum seekers that are physically in Israel for less than one year. A follow-up in-person interview is required with the RSD (Refugee Status Determination) unit. Interpreters are normally provided by the Ministry of Interior, but in some cases,  the Ministry asked the asylum seekers to bring their own interpreters (normally where the language is rare).

Approved asylum seekers and refugees can obtain a “conditional release visa” 2a5 visas, which allows their residency and work. This 2a5 visa must renew annually or every six months. This status does not lead to a Permanent Residency or Citizenship path.

Kan-Tor & Acco lawyers provide legal immigration support to individuals and their families obtaining a legal refugee or asylum status, as part of the firm Corporate social responsibility, on a Pro-Bono basis. The process is managed by the Private Individual Department, Headed by Advocate Daniel Aspiro, subject to the firm’s policy regarding accepting eligible cases.