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Appealing denial of legal status for a foreign spouse in Israel

Michael Decker
Michael Decker

If the Interior Ministry refuses a joint life application or to continue the process of legalizing a foreign spouse’s status, it is not the final word. It is possible to file an appeal for foreign spouse in Israel against the decision via one of several appeal mechanisms.

In this article, Michael Decker, an attorney with extensive experience in the area of immigration to Israel, explains how to appeal decisions by the Interior Ministry and the Population and Immigration Authority regarding legalizing the status of foreign spouses in Israel.

Our law offices in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, specialize in Israeli immigration law. Our office has extensive experience in accompanying couples through all stages of legalizing foreign spouses and representing them before all the administrative and judicial courts.

Appeals for foreign spouses in IsraelForeign spouses seeking to live with their Israeli partners must be aware that they may face significant barriers along the way. Interior Ministry officials handling the application may arbitrarily decide not to accept a joint life application, or not to continue the process of legalizing the foreign spouse’s status. However, the couple should know that they have the right to appeal for foreign spouse in Israel facing a refusal or postponement of arranging legal status. Here we will explain when and how a couple can appeal such a decision.

Decisions subject to appeal

Most opinions made on the basis of Population and Immigration authority regulations regarding married couples or common-law couples can be appealed. In this framework, a couple can appeal a refusal to accept a joint-life application (due to lack of prerequisite documents or the impression that the relationship is not sincere). Similarly, couples can appeal refusals to begin the graduated process. Likewise, couples can appeal decisions concerning legalizing the status of minor children of the foreign spouse. Interior Ministry decisions are often issued without the explanations required by law, or based on erroneous factual information. For more information on the justification requirements for administrative offices, including the Interior Ministry, see this article on our website.

Anyone who considers that he or she has been harmed by decisions in this area has the right to appeal them. For more detailed information on filing an internal appeal against the Interior Ministry, see this article.

The right to file an internal appeal

Not everyone is aware that in the case of the Authority’s refusal, one has the right to file an internal appeal; that is, a written appeal submitted to a senior figure in the Authority. It is preferable and sometimes mandatory to activate this right before turning to the judicial courts.

First of all, the internal appeal may be accepted. Second, if it is not filed, it may appear that the person did not try all available channels before turning to the courts, and the appeal to the appeals court may be rejected on this basis.

The regulation regarding appeals states that in the appeal, the matter will be discussed by personnel more senior than those who made the decision. For example, in an appeal of a decision by a team head, the vice-director or director of the office will be the one to hear the appeal. Time is a deciding factor, for the regulations state that the internal appeal must be filed within 21 days of receiving the decision. Even though there is no oral hearing during the appeal, it is advisable to file it with the advice and assistance of an attorney experienced in the field of Israeli immigration.

Appealing to the Appeals Court

For most rejection decisions by the Authority, the judicial court handling the appeal is the Appeals Court of the Population and Immigration Authority. This is a professional court established under the Entrance to Israel Law. At present there are four such courts throughout Israel (in Jerusalem; in Tel Aviv; in Haifa in the North; and in Be’er Sheva in the South). Here too, the time factor is critical. The appeal must be filed within 30 days of the legal publication of the decision; or the day it was given to the applicant; or the day he or she learned of it, whichever is earliest of the three.

The Appeals Court has the authority to intervene in a decision by the Interior Ministry, to cancel it or revise it. For more information on appealing an Interior Ministry decision regarding immigration to Israel, to the Appeals Court under the Entrance to Israel law, see this article on our website.

Administrative appeal to the Administrative Affairs Court

An Appeals Court decision can be appealed to the District Court, sitting as an Administrative Affairs Court. The appeal must be filed within 45 days from hearing the decision orally or its transmission to both sides. Note that the Population and Immigration Authority also has the right to appeal decisions of the Appeals Court. The Administrative Affairs Court will intervene in a decision of the Appeals Court in a case where it sees justification for doing so.

Permission to appeal to the Supreme Court

Note that even for a ruling by the Administrative Affairs Court, the appellant can request to appeal to the Supreme Court. However, given that it would be the third court to examine the case, intervention in such cases takes place only very rarely. Permission to appeal is given, for example, in cases dealing with a question of principle which goes beyond the issue between the claimants.

Contact an immigration attorney

We have given you general information about the possibilities of appealing decisions by Interior Ministry officials regarding legal status of foreign spouses. Given that each step of the appeal process may be critical, it is highly recommended to obtain the services of an immigration lawyer. If you need legal advice or assistance in this matter, an attorney from our offices specializing in immigration to Israel and representing couples in obtaining legal status, will be happy to be at your service.

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