Obtaining legal status in Israel for foreign caretaker spouses
When mixed nationality couples in which one of the partners is a foreign caretaker seek status legalization in order to live together in Israel, they might face quite a few obstacles. There is a gap between the general Ministry of Interior rules regarding foreign spouses, and the ministry’s policy regarding romantic relationships of foreign caretakers. In this article we will expand on this complicated topic and explain what legal options are available to foreign caretaker spouses.
The Cohen, Decker, Pex & Brosh law office specializes in Israeli immigration law. Our firm is experienced with, among other things, status legalization in Israel for couples in which one of the partners is a foreign caretaker, and in their representation before the Ministry of Interior’s Population and Immigration Authority, and the administrative and legal courts.
Foreign caretaker visa in Israel
Foreign caretakers arrive to Israel in order to take care of populations in need, such as the elderly or the severely disabled. The period of their stay in Israel is limited in time, and as a rule can be extended for a period that shall not exceed 51 months in total from the date of their first entry to Israel. After this period, they have to meet stricter conditions in order to stay in Israel. In order to understand more about the legal status of foreign caretakers in Israel and their possible stay period, see an article on this topic published on our website:
The policy of the Israeli Ministry of Interior – an attempt to prevent a romantic relationship between foreign workers and Israeli citizens
It is important to note that the Population and Immigration Authority has a strict policy regarding the existence of romantic relationships of foreign caretakers in Israel. De facto, the Population and Immigration Authority conditions the validity of the visa held by the foreign workers upon refraining from having a romantic or marital relationship while staying in Israel. Based on this policy, the Population Authority monitors the foreign workers, arrests workers suspected of having romantic relationships and even revokes their visas (as published, for example, in an investigation on the matter on “Haaretz”’s website.)
This policy doesn’t have an explicit legal basis, and therefore not very known among the general public. It was brought up for discussion in courts in various contexts, including about foreign female caretakers that got pregnant during their stay in Israel. Human rights and worker’s rights organizations oppose this policy, arguing that workers who come to work in Israel for many years cannot be denied the basic right to have romantic relationships. To the extent that foreign caretakers or their partners need assistance in this matter, it is highly recommended to be advised by a lawyer who specializes in immigration law.
Joint life application procedure for foreign caretakers in Israel
Whether the partners are married or united by a civil union, the Ministry of Interior’s procedures are almost identical. In both cases, a written approval by the employers (usually the caretaker’s patients themselves) or one of their family members is required. The certificate should state that the employers are aware of the submission of a legal status legalization application in Israel in accordance with the relevant joint life procedure (for married couples or common-law couples) and that they are willing to continue the employment of the foreign caretaker spouse.
At the same time, the couple will be required to appear before the Ministry of Interior and will have to show various documents and answer questions regarding their background. The couple will be required to present evidence of cohabitation, which will be examined at the beginning of the application process. In addition, the sincerity of their relationship and an absence of legal impediments or restrictions regarding the foreign spouse’s stay in Israel are examined. If the foreign spouse has finished working for an employer as a caretaker, their visa will be replaced by a B/1 work visa, provided they comply with the other relevant joint life procedure provisions.
Difficulties met during status legalization for a foreign female spouse arrived in Israel as a foreign worker
It is important to mention that forming romantic relationships between foreign workers (it should be specified that it’s usually women who come as foreign workers in the care taking field) and their Israeli patients or the patient’s family is a well-known and common phenomenon. Nonetheless, the Ministry of Interior officials remain suspicious regarding these relationships. Proving the sincerity of such a relationship in these kinds of situations is much more difficult, as the officials of the Immigration Authority in Israel fear that the relationship might be based on convenience reasons, or as an alternative for employing a foreign worker on the basis of a work visa.
Therefore, the regulation of a foreign female spouse that came to Israel as a foreign worker is likely to be more difficult. Nevertheless, in case of a genuine and true relationship based on love, there is no impediment for a foreign spouse, who came to Israel as a caretaker, to change status and begin the procedure for a status legalization in Israel based on a romantic relationship with an Israeli partner.
Contact an attorney specialized in status legalization in Israel
If you or your loved ones are having difficulties with the authorities regarding obtaining a legal status in Israel for a partner who is a foreign caretaker, contact us for assistance. The Cohen, Decker, Pex & Brosh law offices in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv specialize in immigration law and are experienced in dealing with the Ministry of Interior and the administrative and legal courts. Our firm has a vast experience with status legalization of a foreign spouse in Israel, including foreign caretakers.