ImmigrationImmigration to the United States or Israel – How and Where?

Every sovereign country has the absolute right to determine who, if any, will enter through its borders and for what purposes.  The purpose of Immigration Law is to set the rules and determine policy for those who wish to enter a country on the one hand, and for the Immigration Officers at a country’s borders, entrusted with screening this process, on the other hand.  Many countries have treaties and/or reciprocal agreements regarding the conditions by which their respective citizens can request entry to each other’s countries.  Most democratic countries welcome travel within their borders for tourist or business purposes.  Many also provide, encourage, and/or enable visa applications for other purposes, including work visas, residency visas, student, religious, artist visas, trade and investing visas – to name but a few.  Although Immigration principals and presumptions under the law can affect various types of visas, each visa also has its own unique set of requirements which must be met before an Application can be approved.  It is always prudent to consult with an Immigration Lawyer before making any type of application for a visa or for a change of status in the U.S., since all requests are recorded and innocent statements of seemingly little or even great personal interest may cause a problem in the future when applying for the same or different visa type or immigration benefit.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is the administrative office dealing with all immigrant and non-immigrant status issues in the U.S.  However, USCIS does not issue visas to enter the U.S.  Therefore it is almost always preferable to request visa processing at a consulate abroad when filing applications for immigrant or non-immigrant status with USCIS.

Although it is possible to apply for a change of status or extension of stay in both the U.S. and Israel, one should consult with an immigration attorney before doing so.  Changing status within the United States can have a long-term effect on a petitioner’s request to depart and reenter the U.S. thereafter.  A status approved by USCIS does not guarantee that a visa application will granted for that status by a U.S. Consulate abroad.

Immigration to Israel

The Ministry of Interior is the administrative office dealing with all visa and immigrant status issues in Israel, including work visas, visitor visas, student visas, resident visas, etc.  All matters pertaining to visa extensions and/or change of visa status in Israel are adjudicated by the Israeli Ministry of Interior.  Generally, most U.S. and Canadian citizens do not require visas to enter Israel for tourist or business purposes, but they will require visas for work, student or resident purposes.  It is no secret that immigration and work visa benefits to Israel are bestowed solely upon Jews, their spouses and/or their progeny with only very few exceptions and for only very limited periods of time, unless specifically excepted under the law or in the very wide discretion of the Minister of Interior.  The Minister exercises this discretion gingerly and sparingly, to say the least.  Before seeking any type of visa or immigration benefit from the Ministry of Interior in Israel, one would be wise to consult with an Israeli Immigration Attorney.


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