On Thursday, October 21, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett dramatically announced that recently vaccinated tourists would be allowed to enter Israel, beginning November 1. This arrangement still requires final government approval. The announcement was welcomed by foreigners, who have been barred from entering Israel for over 19 months.

At the same time, Chaim V’Chessed has learned that a side effect of this new process may have a negative impact on student visa holders and their families. In May 2021, after intensive lobbying, the Interior Ministry issued permission for student visa holders to enter Israel despite the overall ban on foreigners. This ruling allowed visa holders residing in Israel to resume normal travel to and from Israel, without needing hard to obtain permits each time.

However, now that vaccinated foreigners will be allowed to enter to Israel, authorities intend to lump student visa holders together with overall tourists. As reported, tourists will be allowed to enter Israel only if recently vaccinated or recovered. This new arrangement means that student visa holders who do not meet the new entry criteria will not be permitted to return to Israel should they leave the country.

This is particularly relevant to visa holders with children under age 12, who cannot be vaccinated. If these children did not recover from Covid in the past 180 days, they will have no route to re-enter the country. Similarly, adult visa holders who did not have Covid, or, for any reason,  were not vaccinated in the past 180 days, will not be granted entry.

Our colleague, the indefatigable Rabbi Nechemia Malinowitz of the Igud, has already raised this issue with Interior Ministry officials. Chaim V’Chessed, along with the Igud, will lobby vigorously for a resolution to this onerous new rule. However, until the issue is resolved, we caution visa holders who do not meet the new tourist criteria against leaving Israel, if they intend not to return before the new rules take effect on November 1.

At the same time, visa holders who are recovered or vaccinated in the past 6 months, will be allowed to reenter Israel. If you are eligible for a Tav Yarok (Green Pass), we urge you to obtain one now, as this will presumably ease your return to Israel, as well.