While citizenship is granted to Jews when they prove to be Jewish, for non-Jewish immigrants, even those married to an Israeli citizen in a legal, Honest and genuine marriage, the road to obtaining Israeli citizenship is long, not simple and even difficult and complicated, And the steps to be taken before the Israeli Ministry of the Interior needs to be accurate and well thoughtful at first, otherwise the long process can be negatively affected, delayed, and even cancelled.
Obtaining Israeli citizenship: legal background
Most Israeli citizens are entitled to Israeli citizenship upon birth according to the “blood principle”, i.e.: blood connection to the Jewish people, including anyone born to a father with Israeli citizenship and/or to a mother with Israeli citizenship – is considered an Israeli citizen from the moment of birth, according to the Israeli Citizenship Law. The question of how to obtain Israeli citizenship and what are the conditions is answered in detail by the Citizenship Law detailing special conditions and restrictions for each case.
According to the citizenship law, there are several ways to be eligible to receive citizenship in Israel:
* Citizenship by Return law (“Shvut law”): Anyone who immigrates according to the Law of Return, 1950, will become an Israeli citizen by law of Shvut. And in more detail: Anyone who immigrated to Israel or was born there before the establishment of the state is automatically entitled to receive citizenship – and this from the day the state was established. Anyone who immigrated to Israel after the establishment The state is entitled to receive citizenship – from the day of his immigration.
Anyone born in Israel after the establishment of the state is entitled to receive citizenship – from the day of his birth. Likewise, those who received an immigrant certificate according to section 3 of the Shvut Law are entitled to receive citizenship in Israel from the day the certificate is issued. The Citizenship Law qualifies the right to return by virtue of a number of procedural / formal stipulations. This section actually gives every Jew or person with Jewish ties who is entitled to immigrate to Israel the right to Israeli citizenship.
*Citizenship by virtue of living in Israel: Non-Jewish citizens who lived in the Land of Israel before the establishment of the state are entitled to citizenship, and this from the day of the establishment of the state, provided that certain conditions specified in the law are met.
*Citizenship by virtue of birth: the section includes anyone who was born outside of Israel when his father or mother were Israeli citizens by law of Svut/sitting in Israel/naturalization, etc.
*Citizenship by virtue of birth and residence in Israel: A non-Jew who was born after the establishment of the state in Israel, and has never had any citizenship, is entitled to Israeli citizenship, if he applied for it in the period between his 18th birthday and his 21st birthday, and if he has been a resident of Israel for five consecutive years Often before the day of submitting his request (the Minister of the Interior may refuse the request if the applicant has been convicted of an offense against the security of the state, sentenced to prison, etc.).
This is an application to the Ministry of the Interior called “Notice of desire to obtain citizenship according to section 4a of the Law of Return” and family members of Jews who entered Israel before March 19, 1970, and received a permanent residence permit, may submit the above application for Israeli citizenship, those whose registration in the population registry was Different from “Jew”, those who did not acquire Israeli citizenship through naturalization.
*Citizenship by virtue of adoption: As a general rule, a minor will be an Israeli citizen by virtue of adoption from the day of his adoption, if he was adopted according to the Child Adoption Law and one of his parents were Israeli citizens, and alternatively an adoption outside of Israel when his adoptive father or mother were Israeli citizens, provided that the adopters were not residents of Israel on the day of adoption and consent was given Both adoptive parents.
*Citizenship by virtue of naturalization: This is a key section that allows a non-Jew to become an Israeli citizen, subject to the fulfillment of several conditions and subject to the discretion of the Minister of the Interior. We will elaborate on this condition below.
*Naturalization of husband and wife: A husband and his wife, one of whom is an Israeli citizen or one of whom has applied for citizenship and the conditions in Section 5(a) of the Citizenship Law are met or the exemption from them, the other can obtain Israeli citizenship by naturalization. We will elaborate on this condition below.
*Citizenship by virtue of the grant: this method of obtaining citizenship is reserved for the Minister of the Interior in special cases, in which a person and/or his family members took a real action to promote the security, the economy or another important matter of the Isreali state (sometimes these are athletes or people who have contributed a lot to Israel and/or there is a need significant in their services).
It should be noted that a citizen with Israeli citizenship is entitled to have foreign citizenship in addition (dual). Obtaining Israeli citizenship does not depend on renouncing the previous citizenship. Holders of Israeli citizenship who are also holders of foreign citizenship are citizens of Israel for the purposes of all laws in the State of Israel.
The main difference between citizenship status and permanent resident status lies in the rights that are not granted to the permanent resident, which are: the right to vote and be elected to the Knesset and the right to receive an Israeli passport. Apart from these rights, a permanent resident is entitled to receive, like any ordinary Israeli citizen, social security benefits such as: unemployment benefits, income support, disability and old age benefits.
Another difference exists when the resident settles in another country, if he is a resident this status expires and that children of residents born in Israel will not automatically receive the status of their parents, this is in contrast to a citizen. From this it is also possible to understand why obtaining Israeli citizenship for a permanent resident is a right required by many residents, who although enjoy their permanency in Israel, but would like to be considered citizens for everything.
getting Israeli citizenship by marriage
Marriages between non-Jewish foreigners and Israelis have become a common phenomenon in the last two decades, among other things, following the entry into Israel of hundreds of thousands of foreign citizens from various countries, in recent years thousands of foreign citizens from Africa have been added to all of these who entered Israel from the Egypt-Israel border for various reasons: danger of death / the prevailing hunger in their country / a desire to move to a western place that allows a reasonable chance of earning, and so on.
There is a difficulty in regulating citizenship status for a foreigner who is in a romantic relationship with an Israeli citizen, no matter what the purpose of his stay is, and whether he is legal or not. The couple is given the option to choose one of two options: the first is a declaration of public figures at the Ministry of the Interior, a process that requires declarations and substantiation of the relationship, especially if the foreigner is defined as an illegal resident.
This process has to go through the appropriate approvals for several years, and can lead to permanent resident status in the future. A second option is a civil marriage outside Israel and after about five years of starting the process of obtaining citizenship, we will first focus on the second option – marriage to a foreign spouse, which is preferable because it allows obtaining Israeli citizenship through marriage to non-Jewish citizens at the end of the process.
The legal history of the procedure:
For many years, the Ministry of the Interior interpreted the Law of Return (“Shvut law”), so that the non-Jewish foreign spouse gained – upon his marriage to a Jewish Israeli – the status of a Jew according to the Law of Return and the status of an immigrant according to the Law of Citizenship. However, in 1995 the Ministry of the Interior changed its interpretation. According to the new approach, that spouse who is not Jewish – will not fall within the scope of the Law of Return, and in any case will not be entitled to the rights of a Jew, including not having the right to receive Israeli citizenship.
In a petition to the High Court submitted in the late 1990s, the petitioners – most of whom married in a “mixed marriage” where one of the spouses is Jewish and the other non-Jewish – attacked the new interpretive approach of the Ministry of the Interior. They also attacked the policy of the Ministry of the Interior The face according to which the non-Jewish spouse is required to leave the country until the Ministry of the Interior finds out whether the marriage is a real marriage or a fictitious marriage.
The Supreme Court approved the new interpretation of the Ministry of the Interior and ruled:
The provision of section 4a of the Law of Return – which grants rights of return to non-Jewish family members of Jews – is intended for families of mixed marriages among Diaspora Jews, with the aim of not causing them to split up and with the aim of encouraging their immigration to Israel. By taking this approach, the legislator sought to fulfill by giving return rights to a member of a Jew’s family, even without recognizing him as a Jew.
Therefore, the right of return is granted only to family members of Jews before they immigrated to Israel. But Jewish citizens of Israel, either by birth or after exercising the right of return before their marriage – do not have the power to grant the right of return to their spouses.
A foreigner who marries an Israeli does not actually buy the right to naturalization through his marriage, and the Minister of the Interior has the authority to grant or not grant the naturalization request submitted to him by that foreign spouse. On the other hand, the High Court of Justice ruled that the policy of the Ministry of the Interior regarding foreigners who married Israelis to deport them until the Ministry of the Interior ascertains whether the marriage is a real marriage or a fictitious marriage, is a policy that does not meet the test of proportionality and is therefore invalid and void. With the permit, the Ministry of the Interior may be careful with the couple and require them to provide a higher degree of evidence than usual to prove the sincerity of the marriage.
Carrying out the actual procedure of obtaining israeli citizenship:
Granting citizenship by virtue of marriage to an Israeli citizen is given according to section 7 of the law. The Ministry of the Interior has a procedure numbered 5.2.0008 that determines the naturalization procedure. This procedure can be seen as the relief given to foreign spouses of Israeli citizens compared to other foreign nationals seeking to become citizens not by virtue of marriage
The procedure itself at the Ministry of the Interior for married couples is referred to as “treatment procedure for granting status to a foreign spouse married to an Israeli citizen”. Starting the process involves making an appointment to submit an application for a graduated cohabitation procedure of a foreign spouse of an Israeli citizen to the relevant Ministry of the Interior branch. During the first six months of this staggered procedure, as a rule, the foreign citizen receives a type B1 visa (work visa in Israel), he undergoes a preliminary examination at the Ministry of the Interior to confirm the sincerity of his relationship with his spouse. After successfully passing this stage and confirming the sincerity of the relationship, the foreign spouse will be granted a type A/5 visa (temporary residence visa). This visa can be renewed once a year for a maximum of 4 years in total. After 4 and a half years as part of passing the stages of the staggered procedure (living together), the foreign spouse is entitled to petition the Ministry of the Interior for official Israeli citizenship.
The Citizenship Law states that Israeli citizenship is acquired, among other things, by virtue of naturalization according to sections 5 to 8 of the law. Section 5(a) of the Citizenship Law establishes the conditions under which an adult can submit an application for Israeli citizenship and receive it through naturalization. Conditions for applying for Israeli citizenship by virtue of naturalization are:
“5. (a) Naturalization An adult who is not an Israeli citizen can obtain Israeli citizenship through naturalization if the following conditions are met:
(1) located in Israel;
(2) was in Israel for three years out of a five-year period preceding the day of submitting his application;
(3) entitled to sit in Israel as a permanent stay;
(4) has settled in Israel or intends to settle there;
(5) speaks the Hebrew language;
(6) Relinquished his previous citizenship or proved that he will cease to be a foreign citizen when he becomes an Israeli citizen.
Section 5(b) of the Citizenship Law adds and states: “Whoever has applied for citizenship and the conditions in subsection (a) are met, the Minister of the Interior, if he deems it appropriate, will grant him Israeli citizenship by issuing a citizenship certificate.” In addition, Section 7 of the Citizenship Law states: “A husband and his wife, one of whom is an Israeli citizen… the other can obtain Israeli citizenship through naturalization, even if the conditions in Section 5(a) are not met.”
This provision certainly facilitates the process of obtaining Israeli citizenship for the spouse of an Israeli citizen. The relief is expressed in the fact that the spouse does not have to fulfill the condition set forth in Section 5(a) of the Citizenship Law. However, the provision of Section 7 of the Citizenship Law does not grant the Israeli citizen’s spouse “automatic” citizenship by virtue of marriage. The provision of Section 5(b) of the Citizenship Law is still in effect, which also applies to the naturalization of a spouse, according to which the question of naturalization is subject to the discretion of the Minister of the Interior (“if he deems it appropriate”). This discretion is broad, however it is not unlimited. According to Section 7 of the Citizenship Law, the Minister of the Interior is authorized to grant citizenship to the spouse of an Israeli citizen even if he does not meet the general requirements regarding citizenship detailed in Section 5(a) of the aforementioned law (requirements that few meet).
Israeli citizenship for a spouse: case law and procedure of the Ministry of the Interior
As mentioned, the minister’s discretion in this matter is broad. Just as he is allowed to waive the fulfillment of the conditions stipulated in section 5(a), he is also allowed not to waive their existence and insist on the fulfillment of some of them. However, as part of his discretion, the minister is not allowed to ignore the provision of section 7 according to which relief can be given to the spouses of Israeli citizens when they apply for Israeli citizenship, as stipulated in High Court 4156/01 Mario Dimitrov v. Ministry of the Interior[6 ] And we repeat and quote it:
“This provision eases the naturalization process of a spouse of an Israeli citizen. The relief is expressed in the fact that the spouse does not have to fulfill the condition set forth in Section 5(a) of the Citizenship Law. However, the provision of Section 7 of the Citizenship Law does not grant the Israeli citizen’s spouse “automatic” citizenship by virtue of marriage. The provision of section 5(b) of the Citizenship Law is still in force, also applied to the naturalization of a spouse, according to which the question of naturalization is subject to the discretion of the Minister of the Interior (“if he deems it appropriate”)… this discretion is broad. However, it is not unlimited. Was this discretion exercised legally in the case before us?
The opinion of the Minister of the Interior is that the granting of Israeli citizenship to a foreign spouse of a citizen is conditional, among other things, on a valid and genuine marriage relationship… Is this consideration legitimate? In my opinion, the answer is yes.
The approach of the Citizenship Law, according to which the conditions for naturalization can be flexible where the spouse of the applicant for naturalization is an Israeli citizen, is based on the desire to maintain the integrity of the family unit, and on the need to prevent the fragmentation of the citizenship of its components.”
As part of his consideration, the Minister of the Interior issued the procedure: “Procedure The handling of granting status to a foreign spouse married to an Israeli citizen”. According to section 12 of the procedure, “the decision to approve the application and enter the spouses into the ranked procedure will be received after a comprehensive examination, including a personal interview, in accordance with the interview procedures, regarding the following elements: a. The sincerity of the marriage relationship between the spouses and its continued existence…” The interview procedures are fixed in Procedure No. 5.1.0013: “Procedure for Conducting Interviews”. According to the procedure, “the interview will be conducted through a personal conversation with the interviewee, through questions and answers, and the interviewee will be given a fair opportunity to express His claims… the interview will be conducted in a language that the interviewee speaks and understands.” The procedure also states that “the interview will be recorded in the Hebrew language… At the end of the interview, the interviewee will be asked to read the interview documentation and confirm by signing it. For an interviewee who does not speak the Hebrew language or who does not know how to read, the interview will be translated for him and then he will be asked to sign it.”
Obtaining citizenship for publicly known couples (“Yeduim Bezibur”):
For a foreign citizen who is known to the public (“Yeduim Bezibur”) as an Israeli citizen, there is a slightly different procedure compared to the procedure for married couples. Here, the Ministry of the Interior insists on a longer and more careful examination, naturally (the above is also true for same-sex couples). Through a graduated procedure of the cohabitation protocol that the Ministry of the Interior carries out to determine the status of the spouse of an Israeli citizen, it will perform a very strict assessment of a number of aspects , such as the sincerity and reliability of the relationship which is tested by conducting personal interviews, the establishment of a partnership with a solid base in Israel, will examine the issue of the center of life in Israel, as well as the absence of a security or criminal record indicating a risk to the security of the state and public peace.
The next step, if the citizen complied with the above procedure, is to receive a type B/1 work visa, which will be valid for 12 months. The visa can be extended every year during the first 3 years of the procedure, which is graded for cohabitation. At the end of the first 3 years of the procedure, In the absence of any other legal and/or administrative impediment, and after meeting the conditions and requirements of the Ministry of the Interior, the foreign citizen spouse of the Israeli citizen will receive a type A/5 temporary resident visa. The visa will be valid for 12 months and can also be extended annually during the next 4 years of the procedure.
As a general rule, at the end of 7 and a half years from the beginning of the process of obtaining citizenship for public figures, the foreign citizen can submit an application for permanent status in Israel. After 3 more years as a permanent resident in Israel, he will be entitled to submit an official citizenship application to the Ministry of the Interior to receive the long-awaited citizenship.
For a professional examination of an individual case and the assessment of your ability to obtain citizenship for well-known people – you are invited to contact us as soon as possible.
The common problems regarding how to legally obtain Israeli citizenship:
In practice, since the discretion of the Minister of the Interior is broad in this matter, the Ministry of the Interior often piles up difficulties in the application for Israeli citizenship and creates procrastination on various pretexts, when sometimes the couple despairs and loses their will to obtain the right to naturalization/acquisition of Israeli citizenship through marriage, which is according to the law. These difficulties exist to prevent foreigners from using only marriage as a means of obtaining citizenship, so for example in the US Immigration Department there are similar difficulties and this is to prevent a situation in which impersonators of spouses will receive citizenship.
As part of the strict inspections that the Ministry of the Interior usually does, the Ministry of the Interior attaches little importance to the marriage certificate that the couple presents to it as proof of marriage, and it goes without saying that it is not satisfied with that certificate. In the process of obtaining Israeli citizenship, the Ministry of the Interior summons the couple for a conversation, and conducts additional discussions with the aim of asserting the truth of the marriage and the continuation of the marriage bond. It will be emphasized that before this interview and the in-depth examination conducted at the Ministry of the Interior – it is recommended and even critical to consult an Immigration lawyer in order to receive professional instructions and emphasis.
only when the Ministry of the Interior proves that the marriage is a true marriage – even if apparently – and in the absence of a security or criminal impediment to the spouse’s continued stay in Israel, only then will the period of the “staged procedure” begin. The total duration of the staggered test period is about five years (and often even more), and it begins – as mentioned – on the day when the Ministry of the Interior is present to know that two who presented themselves as a couple are indeed a couple for a real marriage.
These difficulties in obtaining Israeli citizenship are added to other problems that arise in other special circumstances, so for example our office handled a case in which the Israeli spouse is married to another woman and cannot divorce her due to a legal battle in court, as you know, the person can postpone the date of the divorce as Their will, what is the judgment of a person who cannot get a divorce, how can he marry? Will the Ministry of Interior approve it? Most of the time, cases like this end up in the courts.
Another case handled by our office, when the foreign spouse was married in her country of citizenship to another, and it does not want to grant her a divorce despite being separated for many years, this problem is especially common in the Philippines, which is considered an essentially Catholic country, and it is not possible to divorce at all, except to annul the marriage , this is in addition to the fact that this process is long and protracted which can last several years due to the refusal of one of the spouses, what will happen to the other spouse?
How do you get Israeli citizenship in such a situation? In situations such as these and more, David Angel’s law firm handles and has had many successes over the years, some of which have even become guiding legal precedents.
David Angel’s law firm expertise
The David Angel law firm is the leading law firm in Israel of immigration matters, with over twenty years of experience in conducting proceedings with maximum efficiency and success, Accurate and professional response to the requirements of the case, and defending the rights of foreign spouses facing the Ministry of the Interior.
As explained above, most cases of marriage between a foreigner and an Israeli citizen in the context of obtaining citizenship are complex, when the Ministry of the Interior, which is often the barrier to foreign citizens, does not make things easier – is an understatement.
For over 20 years, the David Angel law firm has represented citizens/couples in dealings with the Ministry of the Interior / the Immigration Directorate and has successfully appeared in all judicial courts, including petitions to the Court of Appeals and the High Court.
Israeli Citizenship Law Office David Angel knows how to handle and deal with the various problems that arise while arranging Israeli citizenship and in particular citizenship for a foreign spouse married to an Israeli. Our office has great successes in the field, including precedents that our office helped to create. To date, our office has successfully managed thousands of cases of Israelis who sought to regulate the status of their foreign spouses, both in the Ministry of the Interior and in the courts. The David Angel law firm deals with representation before the Ministry of the Interior and it works methodically, professionally and creatively in order to exhaust the rights of the class in Israel for its clients.
If you or your relatives are facing a naturalization process in Israel, contact us and receive professional advice from Immigration and Visa Lawyer immediately, and if needed, the best and most professional treatment for your case.
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