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May 23, 2022 10:27 am

Israel to Grant Ukrainian Refugees Work Permits, Extend Visas as Russian Invasion Enters Fourth Month

avatar by Sharon Wrobel

Ukrainian refugees from Mariupol region board a bus bound for Poland, at a registration and humanitarian aid center for internally displaced people, amid Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine, in Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine May 17, 2022. REUTERS/Gleb Garanich

Israel has decided to allow Ukrainian refugees who have arrived in the Jewish state since the Russian invasion to legally find work, Israeli Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked announced on Monday.

Israel will provide work permits to Ukrainians forced to remain in Israel, as the war in Ukraine reaches its fourth month this week, with millions left displaced.

The Ukrainian embassy in Israel welcomed the ministry’s decision, which it called “unprecedented for local legislation.”

“Thanks to the ongoing negotiation process of the Embassy of Ukraine with the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Israel, it was possible to change the previous government ban,” the embassy stated. “The permits will allow Ukrainians to legally work in Israel and sustain themselves while the war in Ukraine continues and our citizens are unable to return to their homeland.”

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Labor MK Ibtisam Mara’ana, chair of the Knesset Committee on Foreign Workers, lauded the decision as “very good news,” thanking Shaked for taking the “right and moral” action. The step will “greatly reduce the chances of Ukrainian refugees being exploited, harmed or deprived,” Mara’ana tweeted.

The interior ministry also announced that any tourist entry visas for Ukrainian refugees in Israel that are set to expire will be automatically extended for another three months, until June 30.

Since the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine on February 24, more than 28,000 Ukrainians have found refuge in Israel, joining thousands who arrived prior to the fighting. During that span, Israeli authorities have faced calls to loosen immigration restrictions on refugees fleeing the conflict.

Previously, the Israeli government estimated that it would be bracing for the arrival of some 100,000 new immigrants as a result of fighting between Russian and Ukrainian forces, under the auspices of the Law of Return, which facilitates Jewish immigration.

Over 6.5 million refugees have fled Ukraine since the Russian invasion, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

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