For those Atlantans either brave enough or eager enough to travel to Israel despite rising COVID-19 numbers in both countries, the Israeli government has just simplified the application permit procedure for non-Israeli citizens. Instead of emailing dozens of documents to an Israeli consulate and waiting for approvals, there’s now an online system for entry permits.
“It is, at the moment, the only way to request entry to Israel,” said Alex Gandler, deputy consul general at the Consulate General of Israel to the Southeast. The form, with links below, became available July 13 and can be assessed online through the Israeli government site.
Applicants are instructed to submit the online form four weeks before their date of departure.
According to the Israeli consulate website, the online form accepts applications from foreign citizens:
- With a first-degree family member in Israel who is a citizen or permanent resident
- Travelers with a parent who is an Israeli citizen
- A foreign citizen married to an Israeli citizen or permanent resident
- A foreign parent of a minor Israeli child, a lone soldier or a national service volunteer or one of their first-degree relatives
- Students and yeshiva students
- Applicants who want to travel to Israel to attend a funeral.
The Israeli government intends for the online system to relieve the bureaucratic headaches on both sides of the Atlantic. Since the global pandemic struck last year, U.S. citizens have faced overwhelming – and sometimes impossible – hurdles to travel to Israel to visit relatives. Once vaccinated non-Israelis with first-degree relatives in Israel were technically allowed into the country in April, the onslaught of permission requests overwhelmed consulates around the U.S.
Gandler said he was suddenly required to consider every single non-Israeli applicant wanting permission to travel to Israel from his seven-state area. “We weren’t staffed for this,” he said. He told the AJT that he had been receiving dozens of emails a day plus phone calls.
The deputy director general for consulate affairs at Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Eyal Siso, told the Israeli newspaper Haaretz that he was “cautiously optimistic” that the system would quickly improve the situation. “We are doing our best,” he said. “I know it will be better; it’s a question of how much better, how quickly.”
This should be good news for Atlantans anxious to see relatives in Israel. Many have made travel reservations only to have to cancel or reschedule them because they hadn’t received the necessary permits to enter Israel in time.
Notably, individual tourists wanting to travel to Israel are still not going to be allowed entry before September. Only small, organized tourist groups and students are permitted into the country if they are vaccinated or have recovered from COVID-19. Testing is still required both before departing the U.S. and upon arrival in Israel. In fact, travelers must quarantine for 24 hours after arrival or until a negative PCR, or antibodies, test result is received, whichever comes first.
Travelers from a growing list of countries, including Great Britain, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates, are being required to quarantine for a week upon arrival, even if they are vaccinated or have recovered from COVID-19. Fines of as much as $1,500 will be charged to travelers who break quarantine. Travel to and from a few other countries, such as Brazil, South Africa and Russia, are totally banned.
Indeed, COVID restrictions that had been relaxed the last couple of months in Israel have now been tightened again as the Delta variant of the coronavirus has spread. Israelis are being asked to again don their facemasks indoors, as well as being warned against non-essential international travel. In mid-July, Israel’s daily COVID infections surpassed 1,000 for the first time since March.
The country is trying to avoid yet another total shutdown as its economy is still recovering from previous closures due to the pandemic.
For instructions on the entry permits, visit the Consulate General of Israel in Atlanta, https://embassies.gov.il/atlanta/