“COVID” Update – No. 2

Visa for Special Humanitarian Reasons
("Special Visa")

The writer: Adv. Ron Obuz, partner at the law firm Obuz, Burla & Co.
Specializes in regulating status for foreign workers,
and issuing humanitarian visas

What's a "Special Visa"?

In short, special visa is the term used in the mouths of foreign and nursing care workers when it refers to a humanitarian visa for special reasons. A foreign worker who arrives in Israel as a long-term caregiver is entitled to a work visa of only five years and three months (63 months). At the end of this period, he must leave Israel, unless he is still with the same employer while the 63 months period has elapsed, and if so, the caregiver can continue to work for the same employer, without any restriction – “up to 120 old”. At the same time, a patient who wishes to employ a specific caregiver who has passed his visa period can only do so through a “Special Visa”, in accordance with the conditions set forth in the law. The right to issue a “Special Visa” is that of the patient and not of the caregiver.

What are the conditions for issuing a Visa special?

The law does not explicitly state who is eligible for a humanitarian visa and what conditions must be met in order to obtain the visa. However, a long-term care patient who meets all the threshold conditions set forth in the law is entitled to have his case brought before the Humanitarian Committee, which will determine whether or not he is eligible to receive the visa. The committee must take into account special and exceptional reasons that take place in the long-term care patient and are close to the complexity or uniqueness of the long-term care required for him or other personal circumstances of the patient. 

The law sets a number of threshold conditions in order to enter the committee hearing and those who do not meet one of the threshold conditions will not be able to enter the committee hearing and will immediately be rejected outright.

The situation that was in the past

Before the coronavirus era, there was a great deal of difficulty in issuing a humanitarian visa, especially for those living in central areas and major cities. The Committee rarely authorized long-term care patients to employ humanitarian visa handlers, and at the end of 2019, there were 410 available visas that were not distributed to the public by the committee out of the 1,500 visas allocated by the minister that year.

Unfortunately, this is a very serious failuresince thousands of families in need of high quality caregivers have been rejected by the committee on irrelevant grounds, and many needy families have been left without an appropriate treatment response even though there was a practical possibilities to grant the visas.

In 2019, only about 40% of the submissions that passed the threshold conditions were approved, while in the central region the percentages were even lower.

Even with that fact, in 2019, we managed to achieve very good achievements in the appeals we submitted to the committee’s decisions and the appeals we submitted to the District Court in respect of the decisions of the Appeals Court, and indeed many families won a humanitarian visa or a quality worker through us, even when the situation seemed seemingly hopeless.

The situation today

Today, it has been about 9 months since the skies closed and new foreign workers stopped coming to Israel, and therefore there is a severe shortage of about 15,000 foreign workers in Israel, with only about 1,600 foreign workers entered to Israel in the last three months.

However, although the Ministry of Interior has not officially carried out any humanitarian visa relief, we are now seeing that 90% of the applications submitted to the Humanitarian Committee (which are meeting the threshold conditions) are finally approved by The Committee.

In addition, if in the past it was almost impossible to approve employees who did not meet the threshold conditions, today during the coronavirus we are witnessing that the District Court often reverses the Appellate Court decisions that rejected appeals for threshold conditions.

In a number of different rulings in recent months, it is possible to see how the District Court “loosens” the threshold conditions returns many cases to the committee’s reexamination and to exercise additional discretion even though the request did not meet in the threshold conditions.

Thus, we have seen in various rulings that the District Court reinstates cases that did not meet the threshold conditions of 90 days from the end of the last transaction – in some cases even more than 120 or 150 days have passed).

We’ve also seen that the District Court almost completely eliminates the threshold conditions requiring continuous work of at least 24 months with another patient, with the claim that the purpose of the clause was to protect the patient, but it is the patient’s right to choose who will work for him, and if he actually wants an employee who has not kept the continuity of employment with other patients, it should not be prevented.

In addition, we created another precedent in the District Court when the District Court ruled that cases for which there has been a change in the medical circumstances since the committee’s decision was issued until the hearing of the appeals court, so there is for example a request of reexamination of the committee in cases where medical opinion was submitted about the worsening of the patient’s medical condition.

What should you do?

We strongly recommend taking advantage of this period to apply for a special visa for experienced and veteran employees, even when the employees are not meeting the threshold conditions. Rumors from the past saying a humanitarian visa could not be obtained are no longer relevant – there is a new situation and whoever is able to take advantage of the situation, will be able to train their illegal worker or obtain a visa for a new employee who does not meet the threshold conditions.

We are motivated to fight the Humanitarian Committee for each of our clients, the successes our firm’s lawyers have brought to the appeals court – precedents that we have created in the District Court and this feeling that we have been able to help another family who needs long-term care gives us the strength to move on. You can contact us via phone  036866828 or WhatsApp 0587938841

הכותב: עו"ד רון אובוז, שותף במשרד עורכי הדין אובוז, בורלא ושות', מתמחה בהסדרת מעמד לעובדים זרים ובהוצאת ויזה הומניטרית​
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