January 27, 2023

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New Immigrants Will Have to Give Proof of Settlement Before Passports are Granted

3 min read

On Monday, the office of the Interior Minister, Aryeh Deri, said that he is working on a new policy that would require new immigrants to give proof of being settled in Israel before they are given a passport.

According to a statement, the Population Authority had been instructed by Deri to start preparing for the move, which would be a change from the existing policy.

The existing one dictates that a passport be granted automatically to immigrants who have obtained citizenship.

The plan

If Deri does go ahead with this plan, then it would first need a law change, which would be part of the immigration reform of the new coalition.

Not only does the government plan on altering the Passport Law, but they also have changes slated for the Law of Return, particularly the clause that allows anyone with one Jewish grandparent to obtain citizenship.

Diaspora Jewry has criticized this move rather intensely. Previously, new immigrants would have to be in the country for a year before they would become eligible for a passport.

A new law had been introduced in 2017, which allowed immigrants to get a passport immediately, even though law enforcement had warned that this policy could be abused.

Deri’s stance

According to the new Interior Minister, people are taking advantage of the Law of Return that gives them the right to obtain a passport and get government benefits.

He said that they use this for their benefit and then return to where they came from. Therefore, he said that a passport and status should only be granted to those who have actually settled in Israel.

This would prevent people from exploiting the benefits. This rule change had also been hinted at in the deals made with the coalition partners of the incoming government.

More details

However, it has not been clarified as to what criteria will be used by the Population Authority for determining who is eligible for a passport.

Currently, benefits, such as tax discounts, housing subsidies, stipends, and more, are only given to immigrants when they are in Israel.

If a new immigrant leaves the country, the benefits are immediately frozen. As compared to the other aspects of the immigration reform proposals of the new government, overturning the passport law of 2017 are not likely to get so much criticism.

In recent weeks, there has been a lot of criticism directed towards passports being granted immediately.

This was after reports on population data showed that numerous new immigrants, especially from Russia, had left the country after obtaining passports in Israel.

Some believe the reports are just part of a political campaign for garnering the support of the public to make changes to the Law of Return.

Last month, the former absorption and immigration minister, Pnina Tamano-Shata had said in the Knesset that even she was in favor of changing the passport law.

But, she had also added that recent reports were sharing misleading numbers because many of the immigrants returning to Russia after obtaining passports were doing so to settle their affairs.

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