Filing a joint life application for a common-law couple
There are now more common-law couples in Israel than ever before. For many of these couples, one of the partners is a foreign citizen. If the couple wants to live together in Israel, the foreign partner must obtain legal status.
To arrange legal status, the first stage is filing a joint life application in the Interior Ministry. In this article you will find important information on the subject, from an attorney Joshua Pex, who specializes in obtaining legal status for common-law partners.
Our law offices in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv offer legal assistance to clients all over the country. We specialize in immigration law and are experienced in obtaining legal status for common-law couples with a foreign partner, including representing them before all legal and administrative courts.
Which couples are considered “common law” spouses?
“Common law” is a general term for partners living together but not formally married, a phenomenon that has become very prevalent in recent decades. Hundreds of thousands of couples living in Israel choose not to marry, for a large variety of reasons. Alongside couples who are simply not interested in getting married, there are couples for whom the rules (which requires marriage under religious law) do not permit marriage in Israel, even if they wish to do so.
A common example of such are inter-religious and same-sex couples. For more detailed legal information on the status of common-law couples in Israel, see this article on our website.
The definition of a common-law couple in Israeli law
Despite the large number of common-law couples, Israeli law does not explicitly define this status or provide criteria for recognizing such couples legally. Some laws refer to common-law couples, such as the Social Security Law and the Family Court Law. Court rulings can elucidate certain criteria for recognizing a common-law couple, although each case is considered separately.
But some criteria are still missing. For instance, there is no strict criterion for how long a couple must live together to be recognized as a common-law couple.
Filing a joint-life application for a common-law couple
When a couple is living together and one partner is a foreign citizen, how can they obtain legal status in Israel? The Interior Ministry has a procedure for arranging legal status for the foreign partner. This procedure includes several steps, spread over about 7 years (as opposed to married couples, whose procedure takes about 5 years). The first step in the procedure is filing a joint-life application with the Interior Ministry. The couple are required to present various documents (which we have described in detail in another article) and answer questions about their backgrounds.
In addition, they are required to present evidence of their joint life.This evidence is examined when the application is first submitted. Later in the procedure, Immigration Authority officials go further to evaluate the sincerity of the couple’s relationship. They check whether the couple’s “center of life” is in Israel, and whether there are any legal restrictions on the foreign partner’s residence in Israel. Regarding the presence of both partners; it is important to note that if both partners reside outside of Israel, the regulation states that they must report to the Israeli representative in their place of residence (usually an Israeli embassy in a foreign country).
Proceeding with joint-life application for common-law couples in Israel
At the end of the initial stage, the foreign partner’s residence visa will be extended until the application for legal status has been filed. Thus, if the foreign partner already holds a visa (which in legal terms is called a “residence permit”), the existing visa will be extended until the required evaluations are completed.
If the foreign partner’s existing visa is based on a previous application to the Interior Ministry regarding a relationship that has since been terminated, they will receive a new visa until the evaluation procedure is completed. If a gradual procedure (which constitutes the next stage after filing the application) has already been started based on the prior terminated relationship, that procedure will be cancelled, and the foreign partner will be required to start a new gradual procedure based on the relationship with the current partner.
Contact our experts on immigration to Israel
In our law offices you can receive assistance and guidance from an expert attorney with experience in obtaining legal status for common-law partners. Our office specializes in immigration law and arranging legal status in Israel. If you need legal assistance to arrange legal status for yourself or for your loved one, or if you have any questions on the subject, we will be glad to help.