Birthright Citizenship for Children Born Abroad to Israeli Citizens also Born Abroad
Introduction—Born Abroad to an Israeli Citizen
Immigration laws in Israel are mainly based on the Jus Sanguinis method (“right of blood,” birthright citizenship to children of Israeli citizens). Israeli citizenship is passed down from the parents to their children, even if the children are born abroad. Nevertheless, even Jus Soli (“right of place”) has an influence on obtaining Israeli citizenship.
Children born in Israel to parents who are not Israeli citizens are not entitled to receive any legal status in Israel. For this reason, every few decades in Israel a problem arises with entire population groups that were born and raised in Israel and yet lack status in Israel. Among other things, this problem has given rise to several government decisions to grant status to children of foreign workers.
However, even children born abroad to Israeli citizens who themselves were born abroad are also not necessarily entitled to receive citizenship at birth.
Citizenship by Birth Based on Paternity Test
Children born abroad to a parent who is an Israeli citizen, in accordance with the “right of blood” law, and in accordance with Section 4 of the Citizenship Law, 1952, they are entitled to receive Israeli citizenship.
Occasionally the Ministry of Interior requires unequivocal proof that the parent (usually when the parent is the father) is indeed the biological parent. In most of these cases the father is not married to the mother for a certain amount of time before the birth, or he did not register the children as Israeli citizens in the Consulate within 30 days of their birth. In such cases the Israeli parent will need to file a claim for proof of paternity in Israel in accordance with international procedure.
In this article we wanted to specifically deal with children that were born abroad to Israeli parents who were also born abroad or, in other words, with the second generation and so forth of Israeli citizens abroad.
Citizenship by Virtue of Birth Abroad to an Israeli Citizen—Citizenship Law and Procedures:
According to Section 4 of the Citizenship Law, a child born to an Israeli citizen is an Israeli citizen, even if born abroad:
“4. (A) These shall be, from the day of their birth, Israeli citizens by virtue of birth:
- (1) Whoever is born in Israel when his father or mother were Israeli citizens;
- (2) Whoever is born outside of Israel when his father or mother were Israeli citizen –
- (A) by virtue of right of return;
- (B) by virtue of residing in Israel;
- (C) by virtue of citizenship;
- (D) according to paragraph (1).”
As can be seen from the provisions of Section 4 in the Citizenship Law, there is a difference between someone born to an Israeli citizen in the State of Israel and between someone born to an Israeli citizen outside of Israel.
Someone who is born to an Israeli citizen in Israel is definitely a citizen practically automatically—however, in such cases as these the Ministry of Interior requests unequivocal proof in certain instances that the parent who is the citizen is indeed the biological parent (for example, when the child was not registered with the Ministry of Interior in time, or when the father is Israeli and the mother is not), and in these cases the Israeli parent will be forced to resolve the child’s status through a paternity test.
Someone who is born outside of Israel to a parent who is an Israeli citizen does not necessarily receive citizenship automatically, and they will actually receive Israeli citizenship through other various options that appear in Section 4(A)(2) of the Citizenship Law.
Section 9(A)(2) of the Citizenship Law highlights this issue, and determines as follows:
“9. (A) The Minister of Interior is authorized to grant Israeli citizenship, by giving the identity card, and from the day he will determine on the identity card…
(2) to a minor child of an Israeli citizen according to Section 4(A)(2)— according to the parents’ request.”
Thus, we can see that a child born to an Israeli parent abroad is granted Israeli citizenship at the discretion of the Minister of Interior (discretion that is subject to relevant laws and procedures), and this in accordance with Section 9(A)(2) of the Citizenship Law.
Procedure of a Child Born Abroad to an Israeli Citizen Born Abroad
In regulation 4.5.0002 the Ministry of Interior established the policy by which the Ministry of Interior shall act as regards to children born abroad to an Israeli parent.
Within the policy we learn that a child of an Israeli parent that is first generation living abroad will receive Israeli citizenship similarly to a child of an Israeli parent born in Israel (generally automatically, apart from proof of parentage).
The child of an Israeli parent who was also born abroad will not receive Israeli citizenship automatically, rather through procedural regulations.
In Section C.9 of the regulation it says: “This regulation is designed for the very few cases where citizenship is not granted by virtue of right of return. The citizenship department will make a decision based on the special circumstances of the case.” From this we can learn that the children who are entitled to the right of return, who are born abroad to an Israeli parent who was also born abroad, will be entitled to receive citizenship by virtue of the Law of Return.
Children Born Abroad to Israeli Citizens Born Abroad Who Will not Receive Birthright Citizenship:
As we saw, children born abroad to parents who are Israeli citizens born in Israel will receive Israeli citizenship from birth in the same manner that children born in Israel to Israeli parents receive citizenship.
Children born abroad to parents who are Israeli citizens that were born abroad will receive automatic citizenship in Israel only if they are eligible to make Aliyah to Israel through the Law of Return.
The Law of Return mainly applies to someone who is a Jew (Section 1 of the Law of Return), and a Jew is defined in Section 24 of the Law of Return as someone whose mother is Jewish, or someone who has converted to Judaism, and who does not belong to another religion. The Law of Return applies also to family members of Jews.
The Law of Return does not apply to:
- Converted Jews (mainly Jews who converted to Christianity or Islam).
- Family members of Jews if they are children of Jews who changed their religion.
- Great-grandchildren of Jews.
- Whoever acts against the Jewish people, or anyone who could endanger public health or the security of the State, or anyone who has a criminal record and could cause public unrest.
You can learn about the eligibility of those with mental disabilities, and about the State of Israel’s interpretation of who might be a danger to public health in our article on the subject.
Therefore, children of parents who are Israeli citizens born abroad will be eligible to receive birthright citizenship only if they are eligible to the right of return in accordance with the regulations of the Law of Return and the interpretation of the State about the regulations of the Law of Return, as it has been determined over the years and described in this article.
Children Born Abroad to Parents Who are Israeli Citizens Born Abroad Who are not Eligible to Return:
The purpose of the procedure of the child born abroad to an Israeli citizen who was also born abroad is to establish the method of handling the request for granting Israeli citizenship to a minor who is not eligible for Israeli citizenship from birth because he is the second generation born abroad. As stated in Section 9.3 of the procedure, the procedure is intended “for the few cases in which citizenship may not be granted by virtue of right of return.” Additionally, in Section 3.9 of the procedure it says that “the citizenship department will make a decision based on the special circumstances of the case.”
When the child who was born abroad to an Israeli citizen born abroad is not eligible to the right of return, the parents will have to turn to the citizenship department of the Ministry of Interior which will make a decision based on the special circumstances of the case. In fact, as you can see, no clear policy on the matter exists, and each case is examined individually.
In accordance with the procedure, and in the absence of a relationship between both of the parents, the parent will have to file a request to prove that he has sole guardianship of the child, or a ruling that establishes that this same parent is authorized to file a request on behalf of the child.
If the status of the parent is questionable and if, for instance, the Ministry of Interior suspects that the status of the parent was falsely obtained, the Ministry of Interior could make it difficult to settle the status of the child (there is a clear reference to this in the procedure).
In addition, the parents will have to present the Ministry of Interior with a very detailed letter that explains the reasons for the request. Concerning this, it should be noted that the procedure does not specify the claims that this explanation letter should make, but it is naturally worth emphasizing the connection that the parent and child have with Israel, the right of the Israeli parent to live in Israel, and his specific plans (if there are any) to live in Israel, and so on.
In Conclusion—Contact an Immigration Office that Specializes in Settling the Status of Children Born Abroad to Israeli Citizens:
As you can see, children born abroad to a parent who is an Israeli citizen will sometimes encounter problems in registering and regulating their status in Israel as citizens.
The Israeli Embassy/Consulate is authorized to request unequivocal proof of parentage, meaning: a ruling on paternity from the State of Israel.
Furthermore, when speaking of the child of an Israeli citizen who was born abroad (even if that citizen grew up in Israel almost all his/her life) and who is not eligible to the right of return, his status will not be resolved automatically in accordance with the Law of Return, and the issue of regulating that child’s status will be subject to the discretion of the officials of the citizenship department in the Ministry of Interior!
Naturally it is recommended that all children born abroad to Israeli citizens who were also born abroad, but who are not eligible to the right of return, should consult a lawyer who specializes in immigration to Israel.
Our office is a leading firm in Israel in every matter concerning immigration, and Attorney Michael Decker, an expert in Israeli immigration laws and in Israeli citizenship, will be more than happy to assist you.