Amit Acco, Partner

Due to the prolonged processing times for issuing new passports at the Ministry of Interior since the COVID-19 pandemic, the Ministry has advised that as of May 14, 2023, the Population and Immigration Authority in Israel has announced the suspension of visa services for a period of one month. This decision has significant implications for Israeli citizens, affecting their ability to access various services. The decision will not effect the the services to the Foreign Expert on B-1 Expert as it seems at current stage.

The temporary freeze on visa processing in cities such as Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Haifa, and Beer Sheba has raised concerns about the violation of citizens’ rights and the potential long-term consequences for administrative backlog.

During this 30-day suspension, all previously scheduled appointments for Israeli citizens have been canceled. This includes appointments for submitting applications related to special circumstances, such as applying for status by virtue of the Law of Return (Citizenships of people of Jewish heritage) or seeking status for a foreign spouse of an Israeli citizen (Step by Step Process). Furthermore, the immigration authority’s representatives in these offices have confirmed that no new appointment dates have been set, leaving applicants in a state of uncertainty.

The Israeli Bar Response

Representatives of the Israeli Bar, including Kan-Tor & Acco have raised with the Minister this decision willihave an immediate impact of this suspension is the infringement upon the fundamental and constitutional rights of many individuals. For example, the right to strike or the right to family life is seriously undermined as a result of the inability to process visa applications within the expected timeframe. The sudden halt in services has left applicants in a state of limbo, unable to exercise their rights and pursue their desired outcomes.

Additionally, in offices that lack a public reception area and require appointments in advance, there is no route for addressing unusual or urgent cases that necessitate immediate attention. Consequently, the lack of this capability deprives individuals of the opportunity to receive timely assistance or guidance.

Consequently, once an application is submitted to the relevant authority, it can take a year or even longer for a decision to be reached. Currently, this waiting period is already unreasonably long, and it is expected to further increase due to the temporary suspension of passport services.