Making Aliyah is a daunting task for anyone, especially when there are bureaucratic “curve balls” that may be thrown your way.
Having been a former temporary resident does not exclude you in any way from the right to make Aliyah and become an Israeli citizen. However, from a bureaucratic and processing standpoint, former temporary resident status does mean that there are procedural and planning differences that need to be accounted for and addressed.
As you begin planning your return, it is critical to not confuse Aliyah approval with Klita benefits approval.
Aliyah approval means that the Jewish Agency acknowledges your eligibility to make Aliyah under the law of return. Klita Benefits approval is the list of government benefits that you are entitled to based on different criteria. Below you will find valuable information and recommendations specific to former temporary residents (those who at one time held an A-1 visa). Please refer to this guide as you work with your Aliyah coordinator to plan your Aliyah.
A Temporary Resident (A-1) visa is a special visa granted only to those who are eligible to make Aliyah according to the Law of Return. It is a visa that allows individuals to experience Israel before making the commitment of becoming Israeli citizens.
A-1 visa holders are entitled to a Teudat Zehut (TZ) booklet (similar to the one issued to Israelis, but a different color) which includes a Mispar Zehut (TZ number). A-1 visa holders are not Israeli citizens, and are not entitled to hold an Israeli travel document.
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In the past, A-1 holders were treated almost like Olim. They received full Aliyah benefits and a Teudat Oleh (Oleh booklet) from Misrad Haklita. The policy changed in the early 1990s and, currently, an A-1 visa holder is not eligible for Aliyah benefits. This is where things get complicated.
When a former A-1 holder is in the process of making Aliyah, both Misrad Hapnim (Ministry of the Interior) and Misrad Haklita (Ministry of Aliyah and Integration) run an internal background check. They must determine the person’s civilian status and eligibility for benefits, depending on the time spent in Israel while on the valid visa and the benefits which were used.
Aliyah Benefits that MAY be Affected by Previously Holding an A-1 Visa
Healthcare is NOT free the first year. While the other Aliyah benefits need to be clarified for former temporary residents, this one is pretty straight forward: former temporary residents do not receive the 6-12 months free basic healthcare benefit afforded to Olim with no prior residency status.
Shipping benefits used while on an A-1 visa count against Aliyah shipping benefits. DO NOT ship anything before clarifying your status and confirming you are eligible for the Aliyah shipping benefit.
There was a time when A-1 visa holders were eligible for a free flight to Israel. If this benefit was used as an A-1 visa holder it will not be available upon making Aliyah. This will be clarified at the Jewish Agency interview.
Other benefits used while on an A-1 visa will not be granted again to Olim. The details of what this means for each individual case will be determined by Misrad Haklita and you will be notified regarding them pre-Aliyah.
Tips and Recommendations
For former A-1 temporary residents, it is critical to ensure eligibility for the customs (import) benefit before sending a shipment. Unfortunately, the Israel Customs Authority will not answer or address questions relating to this benefit until AFTER the person has made Aliyah. For this reason, Nefesh B’Nefesh strongly recommends that former temporary residents wait until after making Aliyah, and after clarifying their benefits, to ship personal items.
All Olim Chadashim are eligible for Israeli healthcare from the moment their Aliyah is processed. Olim with no prior Israeli status (with no prior Israeli identification number – Mispar Zehut) are processed in the airport when they arrive and leave the airport with health coverage.
However, former temporary residents already have a Mispar Zehut and must complete this process after they leave the airport. It is important to note that they will NOT immediately have Israeli healthcare coverage.
As soon as possible after making Aliyah, a previous A1 visa holder has the option to complete form 625 from the Bituach Leumi website prior to their appointment at Misrad Hapnim & Misrad Haklitah for healthcare registration.
Once the information has been sent to Bituach Leumi (it takes around a week), form 628 must be completed in order to reestablish residency in Israel. This makes them eligible for health insurance (reminder: health insurance is NOT free for former A-1 visa holders). It can take a few weeks for the file to be reviewed and residency to be reinstated.
Additionally, a former A-1 temporary resident must visit the Ministry of the Interior (Misrad Hapnim) to reactivate their Mispar Zehut and receive an Israeli ID card (Teudat Zehut). Misrad Hapnim will update the person’s Aliyah date from the one recorded as an A-1 to the new one, as an Oleh, and alert Bituach Leumi (Israeli National Insurance) as to their change of status. It is important to note that Misrad Hapnim only transfers this information twice a week.
After receiving the Teudat Zehut from Misrad Hapnim, one should contact their local office of Misrad Haklita (Ministry of Aliyah and Integration) to complete the Aliyah process and begin receiving their Aliyah benefits.
It must be noted that processing at Misrad Haklita IS NOT a condition to being registered with Bituach Leumi for health insurance – that can happen immediately after receiving your Teudat Zehut.
Appointments with Misrad Hapnim to apply for a Teudat Zehut are often a couple of weeks away. Only after this document has been received can one make their appointment with the Misrad Haklita, which can be an additional wait.
To ensure our Olim have health insurance from day one, Nefesh B’Nefesh recommends purchasing private health insurance for the time needed to complete your processing.
For Olim under the age of 65, private health insurance can be procured from companies within Israel. It is critical to note that unlike the coverage provided by the government, these companies can choose not to cover pre-existing conditions. Those over 65 should inquire with a private insurance agent regarding their options for coverage.
Another option is to make Aliyah with travel insurance or international coverage purchased in your country of origin.
Split Aliyah as a former A1 temporary resident
If the first spouse to make Aliyah is a former A1 Temporary Resident, the process of evaluating residency by Bituach Leumi may take longer, require additional proof of intention to physically settle in Israel and maintain residency.
Know your Aliyah Benefits
As mentioned before, the Jewish Agency will clarify the Aliyah benefits to which you are entitled. If you are not sure, ask! If you have any concerns, ask! Remember, your Aliyah coordinator is here to assist you with your Aliyah planning and, if you ever have a concern, please bring it to his or her attention so that it can be addressed or allayed.
Also, be aware that if you spent considerable time in Israel in the 3-7 years before your Aliyah, your Aliyah benefits may be affected as well. This is outlined in our article on Aliyah Benefits Affected By Previous Stays in Israel.
The Aliyah process for former A-1 temporary residents can at times be complicated, time consuming and frustrating, but the challenges are not insurmountable! Remember that you have the support of Nefesh B’Nefesh, and we are here to assist you to make the process as simple and successful as possible. We look forward to welcoming you with open arms as you make Aliyah and come home to Israel!