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I want to live in Israel for two or three years maybe longer. I will retire in a year. I'm an American Christian sharing a closeness with the people and land of Israel. I would like to study Hebrew at Ulpan Gordon in Tel Aviv. I'm somewhat proficient in Hebrew, but not able to converse efficiently yet. Then I hope to do some volunteer work.

Can I get a study visa as a retiree?

Will I need to leave the country every few months because I'll be on a 90 day visitor's visa? If so, what's the most economical way of doing this?

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The visa process in Israel is probably not significantly different than your home country.

You can most definitely get a student visa (A/2 visa). But, you'll have to be, well, a student. I.e.: enrolled for full-time studies in one of the Israeli education institutions. You're probably too old for a high school, and wrong religion for a yeshiva, so your best bet would be enrolling for studies into one of the Israeli universities or colleges. Check with that ulpan you want to go to if they're qualified to sponsor international students. Most likely they're not, in which case you can only go as a tourist (B/2) - up to 3 months with no visa (assuming you're a US citizen).

If you're in a tourist status, leaving the country to reset the 90 days clock will require flying out. Ground border crossings don't count (no surprises there as well - that's exactly the same as in the US).

Another option is a clergy visa (A/3), if you qualify.

See here for more details.

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