The U.S. embassy in Israel announced, on October 16, 2023, that it would cease immigrant and nonimmigrant visa services due to the country’s unpredictable security situation.
Shortly after the U.S. embassy made this announcement, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) authorized a Visa Waiver Program (VWP) that would allow Israeli citizens and nationals to travel to the United States for short periods of time.
- The U.S. embassy stopped both immigrant and nonimmigrant visa services in Israel.
- U.S. citizens can request emergency consular support from the U.S. embassy for accompanying spouse and children.
- DHS has rolled out the VWP for Israel, allowing visa-free travel.
U.S. Embassy Ceases Visa Services in Israel
Given the U.S. embassy’s announcement, it is likely that the embassy will cancel pending interview appointments and will not issue new visas until the embassy resumes services. The embassy encourages visa applicants to reapply for their visas in a safe third country. The U.S. embassy has posted additional information regarding visa operations on its website.
Accompanying spouses or children of U.S. citizens may be able to receive emergency visa support. U.S. citizens may request consular support through the Crisis Intake form and indicate that they need support obtaining a visa for an accompanying spouse or child. Alternatively, accompanying dependents may be able to request travel authorization under the VWP, further explained below.
DHS Authorized VWP for Israel
Originally slated for the end of November 2023, DHS announced, on October 19, 2023, that the Visa Waiver Program was now available for Israeli citizens and nationals. Travel pursuant to the VWP will allow Israeli citizens or nationals to gain temporary admission into the United States without needing U.S. visa stamps in their passports.
Entering on the VWP will allow foreign nationals to remain in the United States for up to 90 days in a visitor status. This status cannot be extended beyond the 90-day period, and this status is not authorized for work in the United States.
To apply for the VWP, the foreign national needs to complete the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) application online, which should be adjudicated by DHS within 72 hours. The application is currently available only in English, but DHS anticipates the application being available in other languages by November 1, 2023.