[Visa Waiver May Be Suspended] US Launches Visa Free Travel For Israelis, More Than A Month Earlier Than Expected

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Update, 11/16: Axios is reporting that newly confirmed U.S. Ambassador to Israel Jack Lew has informed Israel that the US visa waiver may soon be suspended. That’s due to the West Bank closure for security reasons after the 10/7 massacre, which has meant that Palestinian Americans have been unable to travel there via Ben Gurion. The US will give Israel a few weeks to either resolve the issue or the visa waiver will be suspended.

Ironically, the waiver wasn’t supposed to go into effect until 11/30, but the US moved that date forward after Hamas’ 10/7 attack. However that has led to Israel being out of compliance with the deal.

Update, 10/19: While some pundits predicted that this program would be postponed as a US precondition was the ability for Gaza Americans to be able to fly to Ben Gurion and transit to Gaza, the program has gone live today despite the closure of the Gaza-Israel border crossing. That’s more than a month earlier than expected!

Eligible Israeli citizens and nationals must have a biometrically enabled passport book in order to travel to the US without a visa. ESTA applications may take up to 72 hours for processing. The US notes that if Israelis want to stay for more than 90 days at a time, a regular visa will still be required.

Update, 9/27: The US has officially added Israel to the Visa Waiver Program. Details and forms should be finalized over the coming months to allow Israelis to freely visit the US by the end of November.

Update, 9/24: Later this week, the US is expected to add Israel to the Visa Waiver Program. That’s a big win for the Netanyahu administration, which has been pushing to make that happen.

Currently, many more Americans travel to Israel than Israelis travel to the US, but that’s in part due to the onerous visa restrictions on Israelis traveling to the US.

After those restrictions are lifted, will Israelis go into revenge travel mode for travel to the US?

Nonstop flights between North America and Israel already have very high load factors, so if that happens, expect pricing in the market to climb, at least until more flights are added.

You may want to purchase flights before that happens…

Update, 7/19: Israel and the US are expected to sign a memorandum of understanding today that will officially begin the process for Israel to enter the US visa waiver program! That will trigger a review period of 4-6 weeks from today, when the US will make a final decision on whether to grant Israelis visa waivers for US entry.

Originally posted on 3/29:

Israel’s Knesset has approved a series of bills intended to bring the country into compliance with US requirements for the Visa Waiver program, which would allow Israelis to travel to the US for 90 day business or tourism visits without going through a lengthy and time consuming visa process.

Israel has also reached a critical milestone in getting the refusal rate for US tourist visas below the 3% requirement for entry into the US Visa Waiver program. That may not happen again going forward as applications were lower due to COVID, so that is creating pressure for Israel to join the program this year.

Prime Minister Netanyahu said he now expects Israel to be allowed to join the Visa Waiver program by this September.

Haaretz says that’s nonsense. One key point of contention is the US requiring every US citizen to be able to enter Israel and the West Bank via the Tel Aviv Ben Gurion Airport. Palestinian Americans currently have to fly to Jordan and cross into Israel via the Allenby Bridge. Israel also currently blocks BDS advocates from entering the country.

Will Israel be willing to compromise on those requirements to join the Visa Waiver program? Or will they come to a compromise on an issue that the US has called a deal breaker and non-negotiable?

Will Israel Be Added To The US Visa Waiver Program In 2023?

  • No (67%, 443 Votes)
  • Yes (33%, 220 Votes)

Total Voters: 663

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60 Comments On "[Visa Waiver May Be Suspended] US Launches Visa Free Travel For Israelis, More Than A Month Earlier Than Expected"

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Geulah times!

It won’t matter. The flow of Jews will only be from the US to Israel. As Bibi said, it will be great. After the next Great Depression hits the US, as per Trump’s prediction. Millions of Yidden coming home. Finally!


Since at least 2006 (before the recession) and onwards, more Israelis have emmigrated to the US than the other way around. I don’t see that changing.



tom bradley

half of”israelis” registered in USA are people who make aliya and move back mainly soldiers, students who want free college

Geulah times!

Ani ma’amin b’emunah shlemah… b’chol yom she’yavo. The flow will reverse. And it will be massive.

Crazy times

Trump or Bibi, who’s your Messiah??

Geulah times!

Neither Trump nor Bibi. But both absolutely have something to do with Mashiach finally showing up.


You missed the *not*(with Bibi at least).




Six months later, still no Geulah. Do you want me to follow up with you in 10 years while I’m still in the US waiting?


@Dave Don’t make this site a place to air your cynicism towards religion.


“Israel also currently blocks BDS advocates from entering the country.”


ben ish chai

from now they could block ’em as of ”security” reasons

ruthie levi

why the need to say “left wing media”? can we simply stick to the facts? the state dept clearly issued a statement yesterday. https://www.jpost.com/breaking-news/article-735770 polarizing ur very worthwhile updates with judgement calls seems ridiculous.


is there a Direct link to the state DP official statement?

Geulah times!

It must be so frustrating to be Bibi these days. Waiting with bated breath for Trump to finally do his thing. Leading to Yetziyat America. Bimheirah b’yameinu!


Hard to imagine Biden understands anything


What do you mean? He was discussing it here


What\'s good for the goose, is good for the gander

It says that I already voted for this poll.
I don’t remember that, but regardless, you should allow the Person to see the voting results, which is currently not allowed


off topic.
if having a US passport that expires within 3 months, is it possible to travel to Israel with a round trip ticket?
if not, how long does it take for the renewal a passport online


Non stop flight and returning before the expiration date isn’t an issue at all.


Thank you!


This means that they now allow palestinians into the country from TLV?

Reb yid

Why would an increase in visa applications lead to an increase in the refusal rate?


The implication is that during the pandemic mostly those with legitimate business dealings, or an otherwise strong visa application, applied for a visa and were therefore approved; and that going forward weaker applicants will apply.

Reb yid

Thank you.


There are a dozen countries whose citizens are eligible for global entry, like the UK, Switzerland etc. The counterpart is that US citizens can use the automatic e-gates at immigration.

Maybe this is something that could be open to Israelis down the road? Americans anyway already use the e-gates in Israel (there is still that secondary check but I don’t see why this couldn’t be removed, at least for Americans?)

Yarin Katz

Fun fact it should’ve been happening 2 years ago but Bibi voted against it when he wasn’t the prime Minister.


Two years ago Israel did not meet the US application rejection rate.


because they refused to start the process and voted against it, the same people who are now saying they did it, want to be the ones on this achievement so Israelis had to wait 2 more years.


You’re not getting my point. In order to start the process, the US looks at how many visa application they reject. Until this year it had never reached a level that made Israel eligible.

Separately, yes, Israeli politicians play political games, definitely. Nothing new here


I’m getting your point, it’s related to my job. the reason for the long delay was the law changes Israel had to do not getting the approval rate higher, and that was what they held a few years back.


Flights departing TLV are typically cheaper than Ex-US, and have better terms (no Basic economy). Do you expect that to change with the visa waiver?

Nuchem Buchner

They have better terms do to other regulations try booking your flight over a VPN and sea the difference.


Point of sale matters more than IP address. The VPN can provide access to a different point of sale (and even different card processor), but the use of a VPN by itself won’t necessarily mean a different price for a local IP address using the same site and POS as a foreign IP address.

About customer-friendly rules that are a result of government stipulations, those too are not IP-based as much as they are POS-based.


Can you explain?


VPN works in most cases but sometimes you may need to provide a billing address for a credit card within the country you are trying to purchase in addition to vpn. I have used AMEX to bypass this in the past as they seem to not care about billing zip code. Otherwise there are more options that are more difficult. Like bank/debit accounts.


Having seen what happens to fares from when other countries have been granted US VWP approval, I found the significant fare discrepancy (in prices and rules) by region of ticket origination tended to remain to some substantial extent and the driving factor seemed to be if consolidation and capacity discipline from major TATL flying carriers was eating into the discrepancy. But Israel could be more of an exception to that dynamic at the start of the opening given the very high proportion of Israel-resident Israelis with US-residing family and friends may lead to a jump that the airlines try to exploit at the start but may not necessarily find to be all that sustainable.


Will this mean no more visa required for US yeshiva boys learning in isreal?


Does that mean no more visa required for Israelis seeking to study in the US?


I have a few friends who on arrival to the US were turned away from the US and back to Europe because the USG eventually got wind that they were studying in the US rather than using the US VWP as the US VWP was meant to be used. Then upon arriving back in Europe, they had to land visa appointments at the US embassies/consulates to get an appropriate visa and hope it got approved. In at least a couple of such cases, the persons’ parents were personal acquaintances of the US ambassadors to their home countries and so it sort of became all the more amusing because of that because the parents were in disbelief that their kids would be denied admission to the US when returning to school/classes in the US.


I believe this has only to do with ENTRANCE visas. Not with student visas – ie, the ability to stay in a country and study there. Even Canadians, who can enter the US (or Israel) without any visa, need a student visa to study in the US. An american can already freely enter Israel on a visitor visa, but if they want to study there, they then need to apply for a student visa when the entrance one runs out. I do not think that will change. (Or for an Israeli studying in the US).


BREAKING: Israel has successfully joined the US Visa Waiver Program (VWP), marking a significant milestone in strengthening the relationship between the two nations.

Israelis, who previously had to endure lengthy visa application processes that could take several months, can now simply complete an Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) form a few days prior to traveling to the United States for tourism or business visits lasting up to 90 days.


Not yet. The USG has to update the ESTA system and some other stuff to be able to allow Israelis to apply for an ESTA so as to use the US VWP. The USG has promised to have the updates completed before the end of November 2023. Only when those system updates and links are completed — could possibly be done in October — will Israeli passport users be able to travel to the US using an Israeli passport to seek entry under the terms of the US VWP.

Nekama Airlines

“will Israelis go into revenge travel mode for travel to the US?”

I’m not sure what this means. Revenge travel mode? Revenge against the US for the past difficulty of travel?
So they won’t come to the USA in order to take revenge – so they will travel somewhere else instead?!

Dan, please explain… I’m not understanding this at all ;(


Will this apply to Israeli children? I saw somewhere that only 10 year passports are required.


Seems not.
This is from Times of Israel:
To use the ESTA program, Israelis must be over the age of 18 and have a biometric passport that is valid for ten years. Otherwise they still have to apply for visas in Tel Aviv or Jerusalem.
Hallett noted that Israelis with an existing visa appointment should not cancel the meeting, because B-1 and B-2 visitor visas are valid for ten years, and allow visa holders to remain in the country for six months. Under ESTA, travelers can stay for only 90 days.
In addition, those entering on visitor visas can change their visa category, which cannot be done under ESTA.
Hallett also noted that Israelis looking to stay in the US for extended periods to study or work still need visas from the embassy and cannot enter under the VWP.


It will apply to Israeli passport using minors too. It’s the biometric capture portion that has some exemptions for kids.


So if I book a ticket to the US, I must register first to the ESTA or that is automatic?


Brilliant timing, Spike demand just when there are no flight aside for Elal..


@dan I’m running an organization helping kids with cancer (www.MyChildsCancer.org). We are now working with families to bring them over. Do these new visa rules apply to children as well? (I’m referring to the siblings of the sick kids)

Debby Levi

Can someone with dual citizenship use their Israeli passport to come to the US without a visa or do they have to have and use an American passport?