In recent days, a high level delegation from Misrad HaPnim (Interior Ministry) visited Chaim V’Chessed. The delegation was led by Mr. Erez Melamed, the recently installed manager of the Shlomzion Hamalka branch of Misrad HaPnim. It should be noted that this is the busiest branch in Israel and serves, by far, the largest number of English-speakers in the country. 

Accompanying Mr. Melamed were the heads of each department in his office. The visitors were introduced to all segments of Chaim V’Chessed’s expansive work, with a particular focus on issues which relate to the Interior Ministry. Mr. Melamed spoke for the entire group when he commented that he and his staff view Chaim V’Chessed as the yada arichta (extended arm) of Misrad HapPnim in servicing the English-speaking community.

Several new rules and changes were announced at the meeting:

  • Original foreign marriage & birth certificates must be presented when applying for student visas. However, in an important new leniency, these documents will no longer be required to bear an apostille stamp.
  • The automatic extension of student visas has now ended. Hence, all visa holders with expiring visas must keep abreast of the expiration dates of their visas and make sure to renew them in a timely fashion. See here for Chaim V’Chessed’s information on renewing visas.
  • Ministry officials shared with Chaim V’Chessed that numerous visa applications are delayed due to insufficient documentation. Ministry officials presented Chaim V’Chessed with a standard text which should be used by student visa applicants. This letter should be filled out by the student’s yeshiva or kollel, and pasted on official stationary. Failure to present the letter in this format may result in delay in issuing the visa.