By Amit Acco, Partner |
On 27 February 2022, the first group of new immigrants from Ukraine arrived in Poland with the help of emissaries from the Jewish Agency. From there they will then fly on to Israel to find a new home. Other groups are to follow.
Current Policy for Refugees Arriving From Ukraine
According to a visa waiver agreement between Israel and Ukraine, Ukrainians can visit Israel for up to three months without any need for a permit. However, the Israeli government has essentially thrown out this accord since Russia invaded Ukraine and refugees began streaming out of the country.
On March 14, following heavy political and legal pressure, the Israeli Ministry of Interior announced that they will allow any Ukraine national with a relative In Israel to find refuge in the country for up to 3 months.
March 28: The Israeli court has decided that Border Control can not deny entry and deport the Ukraine nationals back, unless a 48 hours notice was given to them, to allow submission of an appeal to the court against the decision. This decision will put an end to the border control rash denial of entry and immediate deportation. KTA can represent individuals against deportation orders. The individual will be allowed to call an attorney from the airport. KTA emergency hotline is +972544602754
Initial Policy (not valid): Deposit and 25,000 Refugee Cup
The above announcement made on March 14, changed the prior policy whereby the Ministry of Interior allowed only 25,000 non-Jewish Ukrainian refugees to stay in the country: 20,000 are already illegally staying in Israel.
In efforts to appeal against this policy, a High Court petition was submitted On March 13, to block Israel’s refugee cap, seeking the immediate issuance of an injunction blocking the new policies and forcing the government to allow Ukrainians in.
The appeal argues current policy violates bilateral agreements and international treaties, and that Interior Minister made decisions without the proper authority. Ukraine’s Ambassador to Israel Yevgen Korniychuk appealed to Israel’s High Court of Justice over the cap the government has placed on a number of non-Jewish refugees from war-stricken Ukraine it is willing to admit. In his statement, Korniychuk wrote:
“The new Interior Ministry policy violates agreements between Ukraine and Israel regarding visa exemption for Ukrainian citizens…as all diplomatic options appear exhausted, the Embassy has no choice but to submit a petition to the High Court against the Israeli government’s new policy, in order to protect the rights of Ukrainian refugees,”
By March 6, nearly 8% of Ukrainians have been denied entry into Israel since the invasion Some 72 out of the 909 Ukrainians who arrived at Ben Gurion Airport since February 24 were forced to turn back, according to Population and Immigration Authority data.
By March 1o, some 3,400 non-Jewish Ukrainians have arrived in Israel since Russian troops invaded the country on February 24, 150 of whom were not allowed entry.
On 16 March the Ministry of Interior advised that more than 10,000 Ukraine nationals arrived in Israel since February 24, 6,500 of them are not eligible under the Law of Return.
Hours after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the Israeli government saw a drastic increase in the number of applications for Aliyah from Ukraine. Aliyah is the immigration of Jews and their descendants from the diaspora to the State of Israel, under the Israeli Law of Return. Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked announced that the new film in the next three months will not be required to provide a certificate of good conduct or an Apostille authentication stamp, a decision meant to make the Aliyah process easier for Jews fleeing Ukraine.
On March 6, Interior Minister Shaked addressed the absorption of Ukrainian citizens in Israel, focusing on Jews among them.
“Israel is preparing for the immediate absorption and granting of citizenship to over 100,000 Olim, who are fleeing the war. Naturally, Israel focuses on absorbing Jewish refugees and returnees, but is flexible and willing to help Ukrainian citizens in general.”
In Lviv, western Ukraine, where the Israeli embassy now resides, about 400 applied last week for Aliyah. Three consuls received Israelis and local Jews in Lvov, however this week they removed their offices to Poland.
“From there, they will cross the border into Ukraine every day, together with Israel’s diplomatic teams, in order to continue assisting Ukrainian Jews who want to immigrate to Israel,” the Jewish Agency said in a statement.
The Jewish Agency is also standing by to immediately increase these stations, as needed”
The Jewish Agency have already set up processing stations on the borders with Poland, Moldova, Romania, and Hungary to help Ukrainian refugees who wish to make Aliyah. According to the Times of Israel:
Some 200,000 people in Ukraine are eligible to immigrate under Israel’s law of return, which requires a person to have at least one Jewish grandparent in order to receive Israeli citizenship.
The Jewish Agency also added that they also preparing to temporarily house prospective Ukrainian immigrants in Poland, Moldova, Romania, and Hungary as they await transport to Israel.
Minister Temano-Shata instructed to remove bureaucratic barriers to obtaining immigration visas, including digitally, and to assist as many applicants as possible to reach Israel.
According to Globes, Israeli companies have been trying to help their Ukrainian employees, but they are starting to think about development centers elsewhere. For a month now, Israeli technology companies have been enabling their employees in Ukraine to relocate in the west of the country or across the border in Poland, Romania, and Bulgaria.
Now, many of the workers who chose to remain in the large technology centers – Kyiv, Kharkiv, Dnipro, and Odesa – have found themselves in a midst of a war zone. At this stage, however, after a state of emergency has already been declared by the Ukrainian government and the Russian invasion is a fact on the ground, crossing a border is a harder challenge: the country’s skies are closed, ruling out any possibility of flying over it; the lines at the border are growing, and the new draft rules now in effect oblige any managed 18 to 60 who is not exempt from military service to join the army.