On March 2, Chaim V’Chessed reported that the Interior Ministry decided to extend all student visas for a period of six months from their expiration. This helpful gesture came as a response to extensive backlogs and delays in the Interior Ministry.
Immediately upon the issuance of this rule, Chaim V’Chessed interfaced with Bituach Leumi officials, who graciously extended all National Insurance rights for visa holders by six months. This enabled non-citizens residing in Israel to continue receiving health care benefits.
However, Chaim V’Chessed is now dealing with several unintended difficulties which have arisen as ramifications of this recent ruling.
Arnona (municipal property tax) discounts are offered to eligible residents. However, if those residents are not citizens, they must present valid student visas. Numerous Jerusalem residents who have applied for Arnona discounts have been rejected, due to not holding valid visas. In fact, their visas were set to expire but were extended by the Interior Ministry ruling. Jerusalem Municipality officials are apparently unaware of the Interior Ministry ruling.
In a different vein, visa holders living in Israel may receive an Israeli driver’s license, which is valid until the expiration date of their visa. Residents who have requested to extend their license due to the automatic visa extension have been rejected. Once again, their visas were set to expire but were extended by the Interior Ministry ruling.
At the same time, the Interior Ministry will not even grant these people appointments to receive renewed visas in their passports, since they claim – rightfully – that the visas have already been automatically extended!
Chaim V’Chessed representatives are in ongoing dialogue with both the Jerusalem Municipality and the Ministry of Transportation to alleviate this situation.