Arranging the Israeli Legal Status of a Foreign Spouse After Divorce
There are many cases in which marriage relationships are cut, and the gradual process (family unification) for arranging the legal status of the foreign spouse cannot continue after divorce. In such a case, the Israeli legal status of a divorced foreign spouse will be decided by an inter-office committee based on humanitarian reasons, subject to the relevant conditions.
This request is intended for dealing with difficult situations in which the couple no longer maintains a relationship, but the foreign spouse has lived for a long time in Israel and has developed strong connections there. In addition, the fate of the couple’s common children may be determined as a result.
Merely contacting the inter-office committee does not promise the requested legal status. The criteria that were set are intended to justify the application and enable the inter-office committee to discuss the legal-status application and decide whether or not to recommend approving it.
We offer legal advice and solutions regarding the process of obtaining Israeli legal status and residency, as well as all the other related procedures that are involved. Our lawyers have extensive experience in this field and will gladly use their experience to help you.
The Standard Process
The Israeli Minister of Interior’s approach is based on the idea that granting Israeli citizenship to the foreign spouse of an Israeli is dependent on the existence of a valid genuine marriage.
When the relationship between the spouses has, in effect, ended—even if they are not yet officially divorced—and the family unit is in the process of breaking up, there is no basis for receiving Israeli citizenship due to being married to an Israeli.
Therefore, implementing this approach in most cases, the Minister of Interior believes that there is no room to advance requests for citizenship by divorced spouses of Israeli citizens due to having been married to them in the past, since the marital relationship has, in effect, ended. The approach of the Israeli Citizenship Law, according to which the conditions for receiving citizenship may be eased when the person submitting the application is an Israeli citizen, is based on the value of preserving the family unit and the need to prevent the division of nationality between its components. When the family unit has already fallen apart and the spouses live separately and proceed with the divorce process, there is no reason for the exemption that the law grants to spouses of Israeli citizens.
However, the divorced spouse may still be in Israel and wish to receive permanent Israeli residency due to certain conditions and considerations. As is well known, citizenship is not the same as permanent residence, and each have separate criteria stipulated in the various laws. The Interior Minister has broad discretion to decide whether or not to recognize the status of a person who is not a citizen but who lives lawfully in Israel and wishes to receive permanent residency. This reflects the value—which is acceptable in modern democracies—that the state has the authority and broad discretion to prevent foreigners from settling in it.
However, the foreign spouse having lived in Israel for a number of years or having a (dissolved) marriage with an Israeli citizen does not immediately grant the foreign spouse the right to permanent residency.
What Is the Status of Children Born From Such a Marriage?
If children are born to the divorced foreign spouse after the marriage has ended, the foreign spouse may apply for permanent residency due to their (Israeli) minor children so that the spouse may live in proximity to the children. However, the Interior Minister approves such applications only in rare cases, when there exist special humanitarian circumstances, or when the minor child has an Israeli parent whose citizenship justifies granting permanent residence.
According to the Interior Ministry’s approach, these special circumstances only exist in special and rare cases. However, the Interior Ministry is willing to allow the divorced “foreign spouse” to receive “visit permits” so that they will be able to visit their minor children every so often. This approach was approved by the Supreme Court in a series of rulings.
One of the main considerations in this procedure is to examine the applicant’s connection to Israel and to the country from which they came, which, naturally, may support the decision to grant citizenship (when the foreign spouse is mainly connected to Israel) or deny citizenship (when the spouse is mainly connected to their land of origin). Thus, for example, if a woman married an Israeli and later left her children, friends, and workplace in her homeland, but then separated from her husband several weeks after marrying him, before she had the chance to integrate into Israeli society and take root there, she is considered to still be a “foreigner,” to a great degree.
Contact Us—Arranging the Israeli Legal Status of a Foreign Spouse After Divorce
Our law firm offers legal advice and solutions regarding the process of obtaining Israeli citizenship and residency, as well as all the other related procedures that are involved. Our lawyers have extensive experience in this field and will gladly use their experience to help you.