Foreign spouse leaving Israel – is it essential for filing a joint-life application?
Must a foreign spouse of an Israeli citizen leave Israel in order to file a joint-life application and arrange their Israeli legal status? This Interior Ministry requirement was comprehensively overturned by a precedent-setting Supreme Court ruling. Yet, the demand or need to leave Israel may still arise in certain cases. What can be done in this event? Attorney Tal Ofir, an immigration law specialist from our office, will explain the requirements of a foreign spouse leaving Israel in this article.
Our law offices, located in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, specialize in immigration law. Our attorneys have extensive professional experience in accompanying couples in the process of obtaining Israeli legal status for foreign spouses, from filing a joint-life application to arranging permanent legal status.
General explanation: process of filing a joint-life application
Arranging legal joint-life status for married couples and common-law couples with one Israeli and one foreign partner, is a long, complex process. In the first stage, the couple must file a joint-life application with the Interior Ministry. If the couple are in Israel, they must appear in person at the local Population Authority branch, and present various documents. In addition, the couple must answer questions regarding their background. Next, the couple undergoes an interview to evaluate the sincerity of their relationship. If they meet the requirements set by Interior Ministry regulations for married couples and common-law couples, the foreign spouse can gradually arrange permanent legal status in Israel.
Leaving Israel in order to file a joint-life application
In the past, Interior Ministry regulations required that the foreign spouse leave Israel in order to evaluate the sincerity of the couple’s relationship. This requirement was cancelled in the Stamka Supreme Court ruling, considered one of the most important rulings in the area of immigration law. Since then, the the regulations mentioned above have been established, and the Interior Ministry is required to listen to couples and allow them to present evidence proving the sincerity of their relationship. As a rule, this process is generally possible now even when the foreign spouse is in Israel.
Despite the Supreme Court’s ruling, however, there are still cases in which the Interior Ministry may require the foreign spouse to leave the country — for example, if the foreign spouse is residing in the country illegally. Moreover, if a restraining order was issued against the foreign spouse and then an application was submitted to arrange their legal status, the Interior Ministry may insist that the foreign spouse leave the country before the application will be considered. Such decisions, however, can be appealed.
Other cases in which the foreign spouse will be required to leave the country
It may happen that the couple do not have all the necessary documents for submitting the application. In such cases, the foreign spouse will need to leave the country to obtain them. Also, in the case where the couple would like to get married before submitting the application, they will generally need to leave the country in order to conduct a civil marriage ceremony. After that, the foreign spouse will need to be invited to Israel in order to file a joint-life application for the couple.
Here it is important to note that the Interior Ministry has the authority to deviate from the regulations. Accordingly, in exceptional circumstances, it is possible to submit an application to the Interior Ministry, indicating why it is proper to prevent the foreign spouse’s departure from Israel. Alternatively, an application can be submitted for a visa allowing re-entrance to Israel after leaving the country (inter-visa).
Contact an attorney who specializes in immigration law
In conclusion, there are cases in which a foreign spouse may be asked to leave Israel as part of filing a joint-life application for the purposes of arranging legal status. In such cases, the decision may be appealed, or an application may be submitted to the Interior Ministry requesting deviation from the regulations or granting of an inter-visa. If you need help with this issue, or have additional questions, contact our offices and an attorney from our firm will be glad to help. Our law offices specialize in immigration law and obtaining legal status for foreign partners in Israel.