Government planning to reinstate 1-year residency requirement for passports

Carrie Keller-Lynn is a former political and legal correspondent for The Times of Israel

Illustrative: Israeli passports in Jerusalem, January 18, 2023. (Nati Shohat/Flash90)
Illustrative: Israeli passports in Jerusalem, January 18, 2023. (Nati Shohat/Flash90)

The coalition is set to reinstate a one-year residency requirement before issuing an Israeli passport to new immigrants, starting as early as July 10 of this year, according to the committee preparing the legislation.

The Knesset’s Internal Affairs and Environment Committee advances for its second and third (final) readings a bill to grant the interior minister power to refuse to issue a passport to a new immigrant who arrived under Israel’s Law of Return, until the immigrant has proven residency in Israel.

This is a rollback to policy prior to 2017, when a different amendment permitted granting passports on arrival to Jewish immigrants.

Before 2017, the Interior Ministry relied upon a 1964 directive to use one year as test for residency, and issued a temporary transit document until the year was up.

Gil Beringer, the deputy director general of the Population and Immigration Authority, tells the committee that his department observed that there was abuse of the passport-on-arrival policy, claiming a trend of new Jewish immigrants using the passports only to get visa-free access to other countries.

A number of opposition MKs who voted against the bill, including immigrants MK Ze’ev Elkin and Yulia Malinovsky, say the policy change will create disparity between immigrants with influence who can arrange expedited documents and others.

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