By Amit Acco, Partner |

The Committee for Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Affairs convened to discuss the current status of immigration from Russia, revealing significant challenges and policy shifts affecting new immigrants.

In 2024, despite ongoing conflict and bureaucratic hurdles, 14,982 new immigrants arrived in Israel, with 10,628 of them being Russian nationals. Prospective immigrants from Russia face lengthy waits for interviews at Nativ, often up to eight months, a delay not seen in other countries. This prolonged process seems to reflect a deliberate policy to reduce the number of immigrants from Russia.

The Ministry of Aliyah and Integration has shifted its financial focus from former Soviet Union states to Western countries to encourage immigration, impacting the support available to Russian immigrants. Additionally, changes in the Jewish Agency’s policy on financing airline tickets for new immigrants have introduced new requirements, complicating travel arrangements.

Officials from Nativ reported some success in reducing wait times for interviews, with around 80% of applicants receiving approval to immigrate under the Law of Return. The Jewish Agency anticipates that the number of immigrants from Russia in 2024 will range between 18,000 and 24,000, noting a 10% increase in interest among young people since the outbreak of the war.

Despite the financial and logistical challenges, efforts continue to facilitate immigration from Russia. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs acknowledged sufficient interest among Russians to make Aliyah, but highlighted the diplomatic sensitivity affecting their activities.

The Committee requested immediate submission of the forms used by immigrants to receive free flights and details on restrictions for bringing cargo to Israel. A follow-up meeting will address the extended wait times for authorization.

This session underscores the need for balanced policies and improved processes to support those seeking to immigrate from Russia amidst current geopolitical and administrative challenges.