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Establishing your center of life in Israel

Joshua Pex
Joshua Pex

How to prove to the Israeli Ministry of Interior that your “center of life” is in Israel?

“Center of life” is a phrase coined by the Israeli Ministry of Interior. The phrase refers to one’s primary place of residence, employment, and plans of residence in the future. Those Israelis who want to help their spouses and family immigrate to Israel are often asked to provide proof that their “center of life” is in Israel. The term has enormous implications for those who are in a relationship with an Israeli, or other process of obtaining legal status in Israel. This article by Israeli lawyer Joshua Pex, of the Jerusalem and Tel Aviv law firm, will explain how to prove that someone’s life center is in Israel.

What is the meaning of the term “center of life”?

You may have encountered the term “center of life” in regards to refusal of entry into Israel. A visitor who is interrogated about their plans of travel within Israel must present documents attesting that their center of life – their place of work, residence, and all future prospects – is in their country of origin. Such documents help establish that the visitor has no reason or intention to illegally live and work in Israel.

With the above in mind, proving to the Israeli Ministry of the Interior that the center of your life is in Israel is the mirror opposite. The applicant must show that they intend not only to receive legal status in Israel, but to spend most of their life here. The applicant must show intent to permanently settle in Israel –  live, work, pay taxes and national insurance, and contribute to Israeli society. Determining that someone’s center of life is in Israel is vital for spouses, parents, and family members of Israeli residents, and Palestinian residents the West Bank and Gaza.

What is the objective basis for determining someone’s life center?

מרכז חייםThe first and most important thing that officials of the Ministry of Interior look at is whether the person spends most of their time in Israel. For example, a spouse of an Israeli resident who began the process of receiving legal status in Israel, but returned to their country of origin for a long period in order to deal with economic and family matters before moving to Israel may run into difficulties. The reason is that the Ministry of the Interior expects the foreign spouse to be permanently residing in Israel. A Palestinian resident of Israel who traveled abroad to study or work, may return to Israel after several years and find that they no longer have a legal status, since the Ministry of Interior determined that their center of life is no longer in Israel. In any case, it is preferable not to leave the country for a prolonged period while in the process of obtaining Israeli legal status.

In the last stage of the gradual procedure, it is important to have both spouses constantly present in Israel.

Foreign spouses who are married or are in a relationship with Israeli citizens or Israeli permanent residents undergo a gradual process of obtaining legal status in Israel. In the final stage of this process, after the Ministry of the Interior recognizes relationship as “sincere” but prior to granting Israeli citizenship to the foreign spouse, it is important to ensure the couple’s life center is in Israel for at least three out of five years, In the last two years of the procedure, the couple is required to stay in Israel continuously (except for short vacations).

A person residing primarily in Israel must provide proof of this fact to the Ministry of Interior.

What documents are needed to prove a person lives in Israel and is involved in Israeli society?

In order to establish one’s center of life is in Israel, one must prove that they have a place of residence, a job (or a business of their own), they pay due payments to the National Insurance Institute and Kupat Holim (medical) fees. Some of the necessary documents:

Apartment lease or purchase agreement
Bills related to living expenses (water, electricity, phone, gas etc.)
Residence permit from the local council
Membership in a Kupat Holim
Payments to the National Insurance Institute
Payslips                                                                                                                                                      Israeli bank account
School certificate and children’s vaccination book (if applicable).

Contact our offices in Tel Aviv, or in Jerusalem, to receive legal aid and advice regarding any problem with the Ministry of Interior or help determining your center of life.

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