Legal Status for a Foreign Spouse of an Israeli – Interview Process
According to the Israeli Law of citizenship and Supreme Court rulings on this subject, partners of Israeli citizens or permanent residents have the right to come and live in Israel with their Israeli spouse or partner. There are two methods to open a Joint Life Application and receive a “friendship visa” for an Israeli who wishes to invite a foreign citizen spouse to Israel:
- A marriage procedure – invitation of a married spouse to Israel.
- A common law marriage (“Haim Meshutafim“) procedure.
Either way, the couple is required to present a request supported by documentation before the Ministry of Interior. For the invitation according to a marriage procedure, a marriage certificate is also needed. However, such a certificate does not, in and of itself, present clear cut evidence of a genuine relationship. The Israeli immigration clerks examine the authenticity of a relationship, regardless if the couple are married or not, since it is common knowledge that it’s not so difficult for a couple to obtain a marriage certificate, even without having an authentic relationship.
Thus, many countries want further proof of a couple’s authenticity, regardless of whether they are married. For example, in the United States, inspectors are sent to houses to check if a couple truly lives together. The Israeli Immigration Authority and the Ministry of Interior may also inspect and interview the couple. So how does the Ministry of Interior determine a relationship is valid and not just factitious – designed to gain a foreign citizen residency or even Israeli citizenship? The main way to determine the authenticity of the relationship is via a series of interviews.
The Interview Process at the Israeli Ministry of Interior
Every couple trying to gain a foreign spouse citizenship goes through the Relationship Authenticity Interview. The interviews are separate, and two types of questions are asked: technical and essential. It is designed to see how well the partners really know each other. Based on the results and the accuracy of the answers, the Ministry of Interior can determine the authenticity of their relationship.
The factual questions vary, and are mostly about the other spouse and their family. You can be asked about their date of birth, place of birth, names of schools, names of family members etc. Thus, we advise that the couple should ensure they know as much as possible about each other on a technical basis. Naturally, the answers to this questions can be memorized, meaning even an inauthentic couple could pass this section of the interview. It is for this reason that the interview further includes the “essential” test.
These questions are harder, more specific, and can’t be prepared for in advance. For example, the clerk can ask the couple about which restaurant they last ate in, following up with other questions, such as what they both ate, etc. The Ministry of Interior employees build on a specifically detailed question creating story out of the event, and then see if the stories given by each of the spouses align. This way they can distinguish whether the couple actually cohabits in a genuine relationship.
Rejected Applications for legal status for a foreign partner
Unfortunately, the Ministry of Interior look for many ways to reject the application for a Friendship Visa. If they see the couples’ answers differ too dramatically then they may question the validity of their relationship, and reject the application. Here, at the Cohen, Decker, Pex and Brosh Law Offices, we can appeal these cases and even take these rejection cases to court and help you gain citizenship for a foreign citizen spouse.
Our tips for you during a relationship interview at Misrad Hapnim
Approximately 3,000 couples begin the process of trying to get a foreign spouse citizenship in Israel each year, yet not all succeed. Here are 5 important tips to help with the success of your application:
- Stay together – sometimes couples end their relationship mid-process, making success virtually impossible;
- Organization – have all your ducks in a row. Whether that means having a plan for the interview or having your documents translated and in order, organization is crucial;
- Know each other very well;
- Be polite, but know your rights! Frustration is common, yet it is important to remain calm. Sometimes the Ministry of Interior’s requests are unreasonable so it is important to know the law;
- Use professional help (if needed) – in certain cases when there is a known problem in advance, e.g. one spouse has a criminal record, working with an expert a lawyer from the start would be not only helpful, but crucial.
Contact us! Israeli immigration lawyers
At the Cohen, Decker, Pex and Brosh Law Offices, our immigration lawyers are here to help with any inquiries you may have on immigrating to Israel, aiming to get citizenship for a foreign spouse of an Israeli, and cases rejected in this process.