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Immigrating to Israel without the Law of Return: Part 7

June 12, 2011

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7

Only in Israel can immigrants expect the government to welcome them with arms so wide open that they provide free intensive language classes, health care, tax exemptions, tax breaks, tax credits, other financial benefits, and even more incentives to move and stay here.

As a non-traditional immigrant, these benefits were not available, but it’s hard to feel bad about it considering no other place on earth – that I know of, anyway – provides such a welcome mat for newcomers. The only thing that makes my ineligibility sting a little bit is being treated differently than the majority of other newcomers.

For ulpan, the aforementioned intensive Hebrew language classes, it all comes down to visa status. In my case, as with all non-Jewish people married to Israeli citizens, that means an A5 visa, a brown ID card, and temporary resident status. This category differs from the typical A1 visa most temporary residents receive, which usually comes with the benefits available to olim chadashim (new Jewish immigrants).

While I never expected or necessarily wanted most of those benefits (such as an exemption from the exorbitant taxes on buying property, cars, and other various major purchases), I nonetheless got my hopes up about being able to study Hebrew side by side with other immigrants who were committed to living here, rather than being limited to overpriced university Hebrew courses filled with teenage exchange students from North America who were, with some lovely exceptions, the equivalent of underdressed aliens from planet Annoying. Perhaps if I lived in a neighborhood with fewer olim it wouldn’t be so hard to get a spot in a real ulpan class, but after being put on a waitlist for months, it got to be too much and I quit pushing. That’s totally my shortcoming, and I blame no one but myself for not being fluent in Hebrew by now, but it sure would have been nice if it hadn’t been such a battle.

National health care coverage, on the other hand, is a little different. Both A5 and A1 visa holders fall into the same murky category that involves a very strange system of waiting to become eligible for coverage. At first we were told by the local branch of national health care people that immigrants with brown ID cards simply aren’t eligible – ever. After calling the national headquarters in a pseudo-indignant WTF-you-guys mood, they told us we needed to wait 183 days (about 6 months) and then apply. So we did that and called again today, only to find out we have to wait 183 days within the same calendar year. Thankfully this will only affect my wait by about three weeks, but for people who get their A1/A5 visas in July, for example, they end up having to wait a whole lot longer to be eligible for health care. Waiting makes sense in order to ensure no one scams the system, but some consistency wouldn’t hurt.

Today we were also told that to apply for health care coverage, it’s necessary to submit the exact same paperwork that was already submitted to receive a visa in the first place. Forget that all this paperwork was already apostilled, notarized by an Israeli lawyer, approved by the American embassy, checked, double checked, and then checked again by numerous Israeli government officials both locally and nationally, and that if there had been anything suspicious, missing, or wrong I wouldn’t have been granted a visa in the first place. While I guess it’s nice that I already have all the paperwork ready to go, what a waste of time for the people who have to check it all yet again.

In Part 8, if all goes well, I hope to be able to elaborate on the process of a successful health care application.

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7

3 Comments leave one →
  1. klau permalink
    May 26, 2012 3:48 am

    and now where you are in the case?


  1. Immigrating to Israel without The Law of Return: Part 6 « From 外人 to גוי

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