In accordance with the Israeli government's policy of admitting non-citizens during the coronavirus pandemic, only first-degree relatives of Israelis and other exceptional cases have been allowed to enter the country.
Until now, the non-citizen has had to request entry from the local Israeli consulate, or the Israeli relative has had to visit their local Interior Ministry branch. Both processes have been fraught with difficulties, and much confusion has ensued.
Now, the Israeli government has created a new website allowing the request to be submitted online, directly to the consulate or Interior Ministry branch in question.
Through the Hebrew-language site, the Israeli relative can request entry for a first-degree relative. To use the Hebrew-language site, the person must be an Israeli citizen or permanent resident, and must be physically located in Israel. The request will be handled by the Interior Ministry.
Through the English-language site, the non-Israeli can request entry via their local consulate.
Consulates and embassies will no longer be accepting email applications.
In a Facebook post on Wednesday, former MK Dov Lipman, head of the Yad L'olim organization, wrote: "Consulates are no longer accepting email applications. Please use this new link."
"Complete a separate form for each passenger, load all the documents that are currently required, and submit it 4 weeks before the flight. Assume that it will take 20 business days to receive approval. There will be no back and forth communication with the consulates so please ensure that you complete this form correctly with all the needed documentation.
"Please note that these approvals will be valid for 30 days."
Previously, entry permits were valid for just 14 days from the date of issue.
Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked (Yamina) said: "Distance services are the key to the future. We are all going through a difficult period, and we must ease the burden on the public as much as possible."
"Moving additional services online is part of the efforts we are making to make advanced services available to the public. The new service will make life easier for tens of thousands of Israelis who [previously] were forced to arrive at the offices in person, and who will now be able to submit requests from home."