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Obtaining Israeli citizenship for a child adopted overseas

Michael Decker
Michael Decker

Can a child adopted outside Israel by an Israeli or by someone eligible to make Aliyah get legal status in Israel? In any case, the adopting parents must meet certain conditions – they must prove that they are able to care for the adopted child and that the child was not adopted for the sole purpose of obtaining legal status in Israel.

Our law firm specializes in obtaining legal status in Israel. In this article, an attorney from our office explains the conditions for obtaining Israeli citizenship for a child adopted outside of Israel.

Child adopted outside Israel

Recognition of non-biological children:

In previous articles we examined the issue of getting an overseas adoption recognized. The most common cases in Israel regarding this issue are same-sex couples adopting children abroad, or other couples who do not meet the strict adoption criteria in Israel, or couples who simply do not wish to wait several years until it is their turn to adopt. These are the couples who usually look outside Israel for children to adopt.

Aliyah after adoption

New immigrants to Israel who adopted a non-Jewish child in their home country before making Aliyah are faced with a complicated procedure involving the Ministry of Interior and the Population and Immigration Authority when they seek to obtain Israeli citizenship for their non-Jewish child, since the child is not eligible for the right of return.

The opposite case also arises: the adoptee is Jewish and eligible for the right of return, but the adopting parents are not Jewish and are therefore not eligible for the right of return.

This raises the question of whether recognizing the adoptee makes the child eligible for the right of return by virtue of adoption, even though they are not Jewish and therefore not eligible themselves for the right of return. This specific case is not regulated by law, so each case is considered individually with the Ministry of Interior.

So how is an adopted child recognized for Aliyah?

Due to similar issues arising throughout the years, especially following the wave of Aliyah from the Soviet Union in the 1990s, the Ministry of Interior established regulations allowing adopted children to be recognized for the purpose of Aliyah if they are ineligible for the right of return.

These regulations were published in 1998 and have since been updated over the years as necessary. They include a series of regulations designed to handle the issue of recognizing adoptees for the purpose of Aliyah.

First, the applicant must provide all the documents required for the Aliyah procedure, as well as documents verifying the adoption, such as a court order and an adoption certificate, which must be translated and notarized.

It should be noted that an adoptee over the age of 18 will not be eligible to be recognized as an adoptee for the purpose of Aliyah, only children under the age of 18. Furthermore, to prevent cases of adoption for the purpose of immigration, registration officials will conduct extensive investigations to verify the information in cases when a child is adopted a short time before the date of Aliyah.

Ministry of Interior protocol:

To prevent cases of adoption for the purpose of immigration, the Ministry of Interior created a protocol whereby the adoption process is to be managed by a designated non-profit association whose job is to coordinate all the bureaucracy and thoroughly examine the details of every case.

This process takes a long time, since the association makes its own inquiries with the authorities in the country of adoption, and only grants approval to the applicants after the required confirmations are provided. In addition, the applicants must have lived in Israel for three of the five years preceding the application. This means that returning residents are not eligible to file such an application.

After the association receives the required confirmations, it applies to the Population and Immigration Authority requesting that the child be permitted entry for permanent residency. As part of this permission, the child receives an entry visa for permanent residency in Israel, with eligibility for citizenship being left for future review.

The procedural process:

An application must be filled out for an entry visa for permanent residency. This application must provide the details of the association handling the case, the child’s details and his or her original nationality, and the parents’ details. A representative of the association certifies the authenticity of the details provided.

A peremptory order of adoption from the foreign country must be attached to the application, along with a letter of confirmation from the association’s physician certifying that the child is not ill, as well as a letter of confirmation from the relevant foreign authority stating that the registered parents are authorized to remove the child from the country.

As stated above, this procedure is complicated and lengthy, and involves dealing with various entities to obtain the desired approval and fully process the request. If you would like legal assistance on this issue, contact our law firm, with offices in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, for legal information and assistance.

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