Making Aliyah From the U.K.
The influx of U.K. residents choosing to make Aliyah has seen a notable surge in recent years, reflecting the allure of Israel's vibrant Anglo community, particularly in Tel Aviv and beyond. With the added benefits of Aliyah, competitive wages, and robust healthcare and education systems, the appeal of relocating to Israel resonates strongly among many U.K. residents of Jewish descent.
However, despite its allure and promise, the journey of making Aliyah from the U.K. is far from straightforward.
Navigating Israeli immigration regulations and procedures can prove daunting, especially for those embarking on this process for the first time. Recognizing these challenges, this guide aims to demystify the intricate steps involved, offering a clear roadmap for prospective U.K. immigrants to follow. By breaking down the process into manageable steps, we aim to ease the transition and empower individuals embarking on this transformative journey.
Who Can Make Aliyah From the U.K.?
Before diving into the step-by-step on how to make Aliyah from the U.K., let’s cover the basics.
Which U.K. residents can take advantage of the Law of Return to move to Israel?
Under this law, the following people have the right to obtain Israeli citizenship:
- U.K. residents of Jewish origin
- Children and grandchildren of U.K. residents of Jewish origin
- Immediate family members of the U.K. residents of Jewish origin (spouse and children)
Making Aliyah From the U.K.: A Step-by-Step Guide
After establishing your right to move to Israel, it’s time to start this exciting new chapter in your life. Here’s how to make Aliyah from the U.K. step by step.
Keep in mind that these steps refer to people still residing in the U.K. If you’re visiting Israel at the time of your Aliyah application, you’ll need to apply for a change of status with the Ministry of Aliyah and Integration.
Step 1: Aliyah Application
The first step to making Aliyah from the U.K. involves applying for this process. You can do so by contacting The Jewish Agency for Israel’s Global Center and opening your Aliyah file. The agency in question will provide you with login credentials for its Aliyah Portal, which you can use to monitor your approval status.
Step 2: Gathering and Submitting Documentation
The second step is arguably the most time-consuming, as it requires gathering quite a lot of documentation for every family member moving to Israel. Here are the documents you’ll need to make Aliyah from the U.K.:
- A valid passport. The passport must be recognized by the Israeli government and valid for at least one year.
- A birth certificate. Make sure to get the Long Birth Certificate, as this version includes the names of both parents and the date and place of birth.
- A marital status certificate. Depending on your marital status, this could be a marriage certificate, a divorce order, or a spouse’s death certificate.
- Proof of Jewish identity. Several documents can be used to prove Jewish origin, with a letter from a recognized rabbi chief among them. Other documents will depend on your exact situation but generally include the birth certificates of your Jewish parents or grandparents, a marriage certificate, and a Bar (or Bat) Mitzvah certificate.
- A Health Declaration Form. This form is completed by you, not a physician. For minors, parents or guardians should fill out this form.
- A police certificate. A background check is a crucial part of the Aliyah process. That’s why you should also provide a police certificate confirming you don’t have a criminal record in the U.K. (or any other country you’ve lived in).
- An entry/exit form. Make an in-depth list of all your entries and exits from Israel in the past seven years for every family member older than 17. Even if you haven’t been to Israel during this period, submit and sign this form stating so.
- Passport pictures. These pictures will be used for forms like the New Immigrant certificate.
- A supporting statement. Write a statement explaining what makes you the perfect candidate for making Aliyah.
- A Waiver of Confidentiality. This document will allow The Jewish Agency to transfer your information to relevant Israeli government offices or Olim associations.
Note that all public records must be authenticated by an Apostille stamp or the Israeli Embassy to the U.K.
After ensuring all your documentation is in order, you can submit copies to The Jewish Agency.
Step 3: The Interview
Following your documentation submission, The Jewish Agency will review your application. If all is in order, you’ll receive an invitation for an interview.
This interview will be conducted by The Jewish Agency’s representative (Shaliach), who will ask you questions regarding your Jewish origin, motives for immigration, and future plans for living (and working) in Israel.
You’ll also need to present the original copies of the documents submitted in Step 2. Of course, the documents will be returned to you by the agency after your interview.
After reviewing your documents, the representative will explain the potential Aliyah benefits, allowing you to apply for some immediately.
Step 4: Receiving Approval
If all goes well (fingers crossed!), The Jewish Agency will send you what is known as the “Mazal Tov” letter, thus approving your Aliyah application. The letter in question is actually an email and will contain instructions for your next steps.
Step 5: Obtaining the Aliyah Visa
Unless you possess an Israeli passport, you must obtain an Aliyah visa. You’ll receive instructions on how to do so in your “Mazal Tov” letter. It can take up to 18 business days for your visa to be issued, so make sure to apply at least one month before your desired departure date.
Israel offers a range of visa options for U.K. residents looking to live in the country. Here are the ones you might need for making Aliyah:
- Visa Oleh: issued to Jewish people who have expressed a desire to settle in Israel
- A/1 Temporary Resident Visa: issued to people who meet the Aliyah requirements but haven’t decided to become an Israeli citizen
Step 6: Registering as a Resident
After obtaining all the necessary information and getting your affairs in order back home, there’s nothing left to do but board your Aliyah flight.
First-time Olim can register as residents immediately after arriving in Israel at the Ministry of Aliyah and Integration’s airport offices. Here, you’ll receive the following documents:
- Teudat Oleh or the Immigration Card, one per family
- A temporary Teudat Zehut or the Identity Card, one per family member ages 16 and up
The Immigration Card will also contain contact information of your local Ministry of Aliyah and Integration branch. As for the ID card, it’ll only be valid for three months. Before these three months expire, you must schedule a meeting at the Ministry of Interior to apply for a permanent (biometric) ID card.
After receiving your ID number, you’ll be able to receive the following Aliyah benefits (if you’ve been approved for them):
- The first installment of the financial grant by the Ministry of Aliyah and Integration (Sal Klita)
- The confirmation of your registration with the Kupat Cholim (the healthcare services provider) of your choice
- A SIM card with 200 free call minutes
- A form for opening a bank account
Step 7: Obtaining a Passport
Once you arrive in Israel, you can use your U.K. passport for 90 days. After that, you can only leave the country with an Israeli biometric passport. So, make sure to apply for this passport at the Ministry of Interior before this period ends.
Your first passport is valid for five years. After five years, you can apply for a 10-year passport, provided you’ve lived in Israel for at least two-thirds of the initial five years. If not, you’ll receive another five-year passport.
With an ID card and passport in hand, you’ve officially become an Israeli citizen. Congratulations! All that’s left is for you to adjust to your new life in Israel and make the necessary arrangements for this life to be as comfortable and fulfilling as possible.
Step 8: Embracing the Life in Israel
Here are some steps you can take to make your life in Israel as comfortable as the one in the U.K.:
- Find housing
- Open a bank account
- Register for a Hebrew ulpan (an intensive language course)
- Obtain an Israeli driver’s license (You can use the U.K. one for the first year.)
- Inquire about taxes in Israel and back home (e.g., municipal, income, capital gains, and inheritance taxes)
- Open a file with the customs to receive shipments from the U.K.
- Arrange your telecommunication needs, preferably with an Anglo provider like TCS Telecom
Welcome to Israel
While the process of making Aliyah might seem daunting, it’s important to remember everyone you encounter will do their best to help you navigate this journey successfully. From the British Embassy to the friendly English-speaking operators at TCS Telecom, you’ll find that Israel is nothing but welcoming to U.K. (and other) citizens.