With Israel under attack and the consequential war between the country and Hamas, Greenberg Traurig’s Immigration & Compliance team has prepared the below guidance for U.S. citizens and Israeli and third-country nationals seeking to travel to or from the United States.
U.S. Citizens In Israel
1. How do I contact the U.S. Embassy to request emergency assistance?
U.S. citizens who are injured or in need of emergency assistance may contact the U.S. Embassy in Israel by visiting the embassy’s Crisis Intake webpage or calling +1-833-890-9595 and/or +1-606-641-0131 to speak directly with U.S. consular officials. Family members of U.S. citizens in Israel may also utilize the Crisis Intake webpage to contact the embassy for any information regarding citizens with urgent needs, including reporting missing or injured family members.
2. How do I contact the U.S. Embassy or American Citizen Services to help me facilitate travel to the United States?
On Oct. 7, 2023, all Consular Posts in Israel closed due to the ongoing attacks, and all diplomatic and consular staff were ordered to shelter in place. All appointments scheduled were deferred and will not be rescheduled until further notice by the embassy.
U.S. citizens can contact or go to an available U.S. Embassy in another country for assistance with passport and travel document services. You can search the full list of U.S. Embassies, Consulates, Diplomatic Missions, and Offices Providing Consular Services for the office most accessible to you.
Individuals may schedule emergency passport appointments for other consular posts through the American Citizen Services online scheduling tool, which provides live-time calendars of available appointments at each embassy.
3. What if my passport is expired or I otherwise do not have it? Can I get an emergency passport anywhere else?
The closest operating U.S. embassies in countries to which Israel is still operating flights are in Turkey (Ankara) and the United Arab Emirates (Dubai and Abu Dhabi)
The U.S. Embassy in Ankara issues emergency passports usually within one business day of an application. Individuals must schedule an appointment and appear in person at the U.S. Embassy in Ankara to apply to receive an emergency passport. Ankara typically has next-day appointment availability. Individuals can schedule an appointment at U.S. Citizens Services (state.gov).
The U.S. Embassies in the United Arab Emirates offer a specific phone line for U.S. citizens with emergencies: individuals may call 02 414 2200 (Abu Dhabi) or 04 309 4000 (Dubai). The Embassy and Consulate Webpage instructs individuals with emergency travel to contact the offices at the above numbers for the fastest processing of their requests. Individuals can also look for available appointment times at U.S. Citizen Services (state.gov).
4. Can I fly back to the United States without a valid passport?
No. You must present a valid U.S. passport to board an international flight back to the United States. Airlines are subject to fines per passenger boarded without valid entry and/or travel documents to board a flight to the United States and will refuse to board anyone without proper documents. Please see the Customs and Border Protection Carrier Information Guide for more information.
5. What if I am an Israeli national currently in the United States who wishes to remain until the situation stabilizes, but my non-immigrant status is expiring soon?
If you are currently in the United States in valid nonimmigrant status, but your visa is expiring soon, you should contact your immigration attorney regarding your ability to extend or change your status. No specific emergency immigration programs have been announced for Israelis at this time that would permit them to remain in the United States without a valid nonimmigrant status.
6. Is it possible as an Israeli national to come to the United States without a visa?
As previously reported on our blog, as of Nov. 30, 2023, Israeli passport holders will be eligible to apply for the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA), which, once granted, will allow visitors to travel to the United States for business or tourism for a period of up to 90 days without having to first apply for and obtain a visa.
Importantly, entries into the United States on ESTA will not be permitted past the 90-day allotment unless the U.S. government announces a special accommodation.
Visitors who hold dual nationality may be eligible for ESTA now based on their other nationality.