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Children of permanent residents and their legal status in Israel

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Joshua Pex

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What does the law stipulate regarding the legal status of children of Israeli permanent residents? Children born in Israel to permanent residents are also entitled to permanent resident status in Israel. This status confers most of the rights and benefits reserved for people with Israeli citizenship. Obtaining permanent resident status is more complex in cases of minors who have left Israel for an extended period, or who were born outside of Israel and only one of their parents is registered as a permanent resident. Attorney Michael Decker, a partner in our office who specializes in immigration law and obtaining legal status in Israel, will elaborate on the matter below.

Who are considered permanent residents and why might there be difficulties in obtaining the same status for their children?

There are several hundred thousand people who hold the status of permanent residents of Israel. These include Israeli Arabs living in East Jerusalem; foreign spouses of Israeli citizens who have obtained legal status in Israel but are unable to or do not wish to obtain citizenship; and foreign citizens who have been granted permanent resident status for other reasons (such as the rare asylum seekers who obtain recognition as refugees). Permanent residents of Israel are entitled to most of the rights and benefits that the State of Israel grants to citizens, such as the right to carry an Israeli identity card and access to national insurance and other social benefits. Among the rights and benefits not granted to permanent residents are the right to hold an Israeli passport, the right to vote in the Knesset elections (or to be elected to the Knesset), and the right to occupy positions that Israeli law requires be filled by citizens (such as judges, government ministers, etc.).Children of Israeli Permanent Residents

The question arises as to what Israeli law stipulates regarding the children of permanent residents. The answer to this question is not so simple. Although in principle, children of permanent residents born in Israel are entitled to become permanent residents as well, difficulties may arise in this context. Generally, quite a few permanent residents encounter bureaucratic obstacles in the procedures of obtaining status and receiving basic entitlements from the state, including regarding the issue of obtaining Israeli legal status for their children. One of the main difficulties in this context arises when the children of permanent residents were born outside of Israel, or when only one of the parents is considered a permanent resident. Below we will explain this in detail.

What is the law regarding the children of permanent residents who resided outside of Israel for an extended period or were born outside the country?

As a general rule, and in accordance with Israeli law, permanent residency status is inherited. That is, children born to permanent residents are also entitled to the status of permanent residents. However, in practice things may be more complex. A clear example of this is cases where children of permanent residents were born outside of Israel.

Besides the differences we mentioned above between citizens and permanent residents, there is another difference, which concerns permanent residents’ ability to leave Israel and return to it. Due to the fact that permanent residents do not hold an Israeli passport, their status in Israel depends on the continuity of their stay in the country. A prolonged stay outside of the country’s territory may discontinue the eligibility of permanent residents to this status. Hence, despite the provisions of the law, there may be cases in which children of permanent residents will not be automatically recognized as entitled to the same status, and they will have to submit a special application for this purpose.

What about the entitlement of children with only one parent who holds permanent resident status?

Apart from the difficulty we described above, there is another difficulty in cases where one parent is a permanent resident, but the other parent is a foreign citizen or a resident of the Palestinian Authority (referred to in Israeli law as “the area”). In these cases, there may be a question about the eligibility for children born outside the territories of Israel to become permanent residents as well. The law authorizes the Minister of the Interior to grant children Israeli legal status at the Minister’s discretion, and this is intended to prevent the children from being separated from their parents who are legally staying in Israel, granted that the parents have custody of their children. Regarding minors over the age of 14, the law establishes a stricter condition, according to which permanent resident status will not be extended if the children do not live in Israel permanently.

This subject has caused quite a few disputes over the years, and a relevant case even reached the Supreme Court, which ruled on it in an important ruling from 2010 (in Administrative Appellate Court case no. 5718/09). The ruling dealt with the son of a mother who is a resident of Israel, and a Palestinian father who lives in the West Bank. This person was born in Jerusalem, but was not registered as a permanent resident close to his birth. Later, the family moved to the West Bank, and the son was registered in the Palestinian population registry. Later on, the family moved back to Israeli territory and lived in East Jerusalem. When the mother applied to register her son (who was 12 years old at the time) in the Population Registry as a returning resident, the request was refused and the son was given the status of a temporary resident only, for two years. When he reached the age of 14, another request for permanent status was submitted for the son, but it was refused on the grounds that the law does not permit granting permanent status over the age of 14.

The court criticized the Ministry of the Interior for this decision, and stated that the examination of applications for the status of a returning resident should be done according to age of the applicant at the time of submitting the application, not his current age. The court also stated that the Ministry of the Interior must take into consideration the importance of preserving the family unit when examining requests of this kind. Accordingly, the Supreme Court ruled that the applicant cannot be denied permanent resident status in this case. Following the ruling, the procedures of the Ministry of the Interior on the subject were updated, and a procedure was established for examining these requests, which we will explain below.

What is the current procedure regarding children who were born outside of Israel, and have only one parent who is a permanent resident?

The current procedure requires submitting applications for the status of permanent residents for minors aged 0-18. The application must have the following documents attached: a verified, original birth certificate; ID card of the parent who is a permanent resident; ID card of the parent who is a resident of the Palestinian Authority, or a foreign passport (in the case of citizens of other countries); and evidence proving a center of life in Israel. The presence of the permanent resident parent is required when submitting the application. When the children for whom the application is submitted are over the age of 14, they will sometimes have to fill out a CV form, which will be examined as part of a security assessment. A fee must be attached to the application, the cost of which is updated according to the fee table of the Ministry of the Interior.

After the application has been submitted, it will be examined by Interior Ministry officials, and sometimes it will be passed on for examination by other authorities (the Israel Police, the security forces, the National Insurance Institute, the Ministry of Education or the local authorities). In many cases, the applicants will not be granted permanent status automatically, but rather a sort of “gradual procedure” will be conducted to grant them status in Israel. As a part of this procedure, the children may first receive temporary status in Israel, and after they have proved a center of life and met the required conditions, their status may be upgraded. Our experience has shown that handling such requests can be quite complex and tedious. Thus, in order to handle the applications optimally, it is recommended to seek representation by an attorney specializing in Israeli immigration law.

Are the children of permanent residents eligible to receive Israeli citizenship?

Permanent residents of Israel may apply for naturalization and receive the coveted Israeli passport. Minor children of permanent residents who become naturalized also receive Israeli citizenship, and of course adult children of permanent residents, who themselves have received permanent resident status, in turn may also become naturalized. Minor permanent residents cannot apply for naturalization separately from their parents. The earliest age for submitting the application independently is 18.

Children of permanent residents and status in Israel – contact a lawyer specializing in immigration law and obtaining status in Israel

In this article, we have explained the legal situation regarding the children of permanent residents, pointed out difficulties that may arise regarding the regulation of their legal status, and detailed the procedure that applies in cases where the children were born outside of Israel and only one of their parents is a permanent resident. For any additional questions on the subject, or if you require advice or assistance, you can contact our office and we will be glad to help. The attorneys from our office, in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, specialize in Israeli immigration law and are experienced in providing comprehensive legal support in procedures for obtaining status in Israel through all the legal authorities and courts.

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