Minister Allows Ukrainian War Refugees to Legally Work in Israel

Israel also extends the visas of some 15 thousand Ukrainian refugees and rules that only those who have arrived after the Russia's invasion began will be permitted to work

Bar Peleg
Bar Peleg
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Protesters demonstrating in solidarity with Ukraine in front of the Knesset, in February.
Protesters demonstrating in solidarity with Ukraine in front of the Knesset, in February. Credit: Ohad Zwigenberg
Bar Peleg
Bar Peleg

Refugees arriving from Ukraine since the Russian invasion began will be allowed to work in Israel until July, Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked announced on Monday.

According to the decision, the government will not take steps against refugees working without authorization nor against their employers. Ukrainian refugees who have arrived in Israel before February 24 –when the Russian invasion began – will not be deported, but will not be permitted to work, either.

The decision pertains to some 15,000 refugees holding tourist visas, which allows them to stay in the country for three months. The tourist visas of Ukrainian nationals will be extended automatically to June 30, without necessitating their arrival at Population Authority offices, the ministry said.

The ministry further announced that Shaked would reexamine the situation within 30 days and make a decision regarding the status of refugees who have arrived before and after the war.

Last week, the Tel Aviv District Court ruled that two Ukrainian nationals who have arrived before the war will be allowed to legally work in Israel. While the ruling by judge Michal Agmon Gonen applied to these individual cases, it has led an appellate court magistrate to write to the Interior Ministry to demand that all Ukrainians staying in Israel since before the war be given work permits.

The Interior Ministry's announcement on Monday came shortly before the start of a hearing on the subject at the Knesset’s Committee on Foreign Workers, headed by lawmaker Ibtisam Mara’ana.

At the hearing, Mara’ana asked Shaked to consider providing a year-long residence permit to refugees, as was done in other countries. She has also asked a representative of the Population Authority to explain how it plans to inform Ukrainians about the new policy regarding their work permit.

Mara'ana also demanded that the authority provide an explanation for its exclusion of Ukrainians who have arrived in Israel before the war from its new work policy. She has also called on the Welfare Ministry to allow Ukrainians to receive access to its services, and requested that other government ministries coordinate with the Ukrainian embassy in order to make information and services accessible to refugees.

A further discussion on the issue is planned to be held in two weeks.

The Interior Ministry responded to Mara'ana's requests: "Considering the relative improvement in the security situation in large parts of Ukraine and the return of over a million Ukrainian nationals to their country, the Interior Minister finds it very important to distinguish between Ukrainians who are here legally after arriving due to the war and out of desire to help relatives and friends of Israeli citizens while maintaining contact with the Ukrainian embassy – to those who are here illegally."

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