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Ukrainian immigrants to Israel to be recognized as refugees, receive financial help

Jewish immigrants arriving from war zone to get extra one-time grant from the state; ministers slated to debate number of Ukrainian refugees to be granted work visas

Israeli and Ukrainian refugees arrive from Ukraine on a rescue flight that landed at Ben Gurion International Airport near Tel Aviv on March 3, 2022. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)
Israeli and Ukrainian refugees arrive from Ukraine on a rescue flight that landed at Ben Gurion International Airport near Tel Aviv on March 3, 2022. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)

Ukrainians who move to Israel during the ongoing conflict will be recognized as immigrants fleeing a war zone and be granted additional financial support from the state.

The Immigration and Absorption Ministry announced that new immigrants from Ukraine will be granted special status that enables them to receive a one-time payment from the state of around NIS 6,000 per immigrant (approximately $1,800), NIS 11,000 ($3,350) for a couple and around NIS 15,000 ($4,580) for a family.

This is in addition to the benefits provided by the ministry over the first six months for any immigrant arrives in Israel, which amount to approximately NIS 19,000 ($5,800) for a single person and NIS 36,000 ($10,995) for a family.

In 2021, just over 3,100 people immigrated to Israel from Ukraine, but officials expect a wave of tens of thousands of new immigrants from the country this year.

Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked said last week that Israel should prepare to accept “tens of thousands if not hundreds of thousands of immigrants” from Ukraine, Russia and other former Soviet states.

Ukraine has about 43,300 people who self-identify as Jews and about 200,000 people eligible to immigrate to Israel under its Law of Return for Jews and their relatives, according to a 2020 demographic study of European Jewry.

Israeli students arriving from the Ukraine on a rescue flight are welcomed by their families at Ben Gurion International Airport near Tel Aviv on March 1, 2022. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

Three flights of new immigrants are slated to land in Israel on Sunday carrying Ukrainians from Poland, Moldova and Romania.

Immigration and Absorption Minister Pnina Tamano-Shata said at a Knesset hearing last week that thousands of Ukrainians had reached out to the Jewish Agency for Israel to inquire about immigrating to Israel.

Ukrainian refugees at an emergency shelter in Chisinau, Moldova, March 5, 2022 (Nati Shohat/Flash90)

Due to the conflict, Shaked said she was waiving for the next three months the requirement that new immigrants from Ukraine or Russia provide a state-verified document proving they do not have a police record.

Shaked and Diaspora Minister Nachman Shai are slated to participate in a Knesset hearing on Sunday morning to discuss the government’s readiness to absorb the new wave of immigrants.

Separately, government officials are scheduled to discuss on Sunday whether to accept greater numbers of non-Jewish refugees from Ukraine who are not eligible to immigrate to Israel.

Ministers are expected to debate a longer-term plan that will include work visas for a set amount of Ukrainian refugees who are not eligible to immigrate to Israel. According to Hebrew media reports, Shaked and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid disagree on the overall number of such visas to grant.

People rest at a reception center for people displaced from Ukraine at the Ukrainian-Polish border crossing in Korczowa, Poland, March 5, 2022. (Olivier Douliery, Pool Photo via AP)

The Population and Immigration Authority said Sunday morning that 2,034 Ukrainians have arrived in Israel since the start of Russia’s invasion, 112 of whom were denied entry to the country.

Ukrainian refugees who do not have any first-degree relatives already in Israel are required to hand over a NIS 10,000 deposit upon arrival.

Shai has demanded that the government lift that requirement, calling it “illogical and inhuman.”

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