Dual citizenship for Israeli citizens
Do Israeli citizens have to give up their citizenship if they receive an additional citizenship? Israeli citizens can hold a second citizenship, or even multiple citizenships. However, not all countries follow the same rules. There are states that categorically prohibit their citizens from holding an additional citizenship. Also, there are countries (including several countries in the European Union) that restrict the right to hold a second citizenship under certain circumstances. In this article, attorney Joshua Pex, a partner in our office and an expert in Israeli immigration law, will explain the subject of dual citizenship for Israelis in detail.
How many Israeli citizens have a foreign passport?
The exact answer to this question is unknown, but estimates indicate over a million citizens. The numbers have been growing in recent years, in light of an increasing trend in the number of Israeli citizens acquiring foreign citizenship in Canada, the USA and various countries in the European Union (such as Germany, Austria, the Netherlands, Bulgaria, Poland, Romania and Greece). With the exception of a limited number of anomalous cases (which we will describe below), holding an additional citizenship is not illegal in Israel.
However, the law in other countries is not always identical to the situation in Israel. It is important that Israelis who wish to acquire an additional citizenship, as well as Israelis who already hold an additional citizenship, make sure that they are not acting in violation of the law in these countries. For example, those who have citizenships of countries in the European Union and wish to obtain the citizenship of another country (such as the United States) will be required to find out whether the laws of those countries restrict the possession of dual citizenship. Below we will explain the legal situation on the subject, in Israel and in the world.
What does the law stipulate regarding dual citizenship for Israelis?
The Citizenship Law states that “except for the matter of naturalization, the acquisition of Israeli citizenship does not require forfeiting previous citizenship”. In addition, there is nothing in Israeli law that requires giving up Israeli citizenship when obtaining another citizenship. Meaning, Israeli citizens are allowed to hold dual citizenship and even multiple citizenships. For example, an Israeli citizen can also hold a Polish passport as well as an American one.
There are several exceptions to this rule. One exception concerns those who go through a naturalization procedure, outside the context of making Aliyah based on the Law of Return. In these cases, a condition for obtaining Israeli citizenship is the forfeiting of previous citizenship. However, it should be noted that there may be exceptional cases in which it is possible to request an exemption from this condition, by the authority granted to the Minister of the Interior according to the Citizenship Law.
Two other exceptions concern Knesset members and ministers. The Basic Law: The Knesset established that those who have been elected to the Knesset and hold additional citizenship, from a country that allows its citizens to forfeit their citizenship, are not allowed to serve as members of the Knesset unless they forfeit their additional citizenship. Regarding government ministers, a similar arrangement is established in the Basic Law: The Government, according to which an appointment as minister requires doing everything necessary to remove additional citizenship, insofar as allowed by the laws of the country from which the additional citizenship was granted.
It should be noted that in any case, Israeli law considers Israelis with dual citizenship to be Israeli citizens. That is, when entering and leaving Israel, you must present an Israeli passport, even if you hold one or more additional passports.
What is the legal situation in other countries regarding dual citizenship?
As mentioned, although in many countries it is possible to hold more than one citizenship, the legal situation is different in each country. In Singapore and India, for example, the law does not allow holding an additional citizenship. There are countries whose laws allow the revocation of citizenship in cases where the citizens of those countries acquired additional citizenship, such as Japan. In contrast, the United States and Canada generally allow their citizens to hold dual citizenship. Likewise, in most EU countries today, there is no legal restriction on the possession of an additional citizenship. However, there are exceptions to this rule, which we will explain below.
Which EU countries restrict their citizens from having an additional citizenship?
In recent years, many European countries have undergone changes that have expanded the possibility for citizens to hold one or more additional citizenships. However, there are countries whose laws limit the possession of additional citizenship to some extent. Austria, Germany, Lithuania and the Netherlands are among the leading countries with a stricter policy on the subject. The laws of these countries prevent the possibility of holding an additional citizenship, except in exceptional cases.
However, within the framework of those exceptions, there are lenient conditions for Israeli citizens that do not require renunciation of Israeli citizenship for the purpose of acquiring citizenship in these countries by virtue of a direct family connection to Holocaust survivors and victims of persecution. Meaning, Israeli citizens who receive an Austrian passport or German citizenship after proving that they are descendants of Austrian/German citizens who lost their citizenship due to Nazi persecution will not be forced to give up their Israeli citizenship.
Dual citizenship and multiple citizenships for Israelis – Contact an attorney specializing in immigration law
In conclusion, possession of one or more citizenships is not prohibited by law for Israelis, except in a few anomalous cases. However, Israelis who hold or wish to hold an additional citizenship are required to check carefully what the law is in the country whose citizenship they wish to obtain.
If you have additional questions on the subject, or need any advice or assistance, you can contact our office and we will be glad to help. Our law office, in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, regularly deals with matters of immigration to Israel and many destinations in Europe and around the world. Our attorneys provide our clients with comprehensive and professional assistance on a variety of matters and issues in the field of immigration, based on extensive professional experience and cooperation with leading offices in the field in many countries.