Issuing an invitation for a foreign spouse to visit Israel
Inviting a partner or spouse to visit Israel
Do you want to invite your foreign citizen partner or spouse to visit Israel, but are afraid that their entry into Israel will be rejected by border control officials? Looking for helpful information about the procedure for inviting a spouse to Israel, for the purpose of marriage, cohabitation in Israel, or just for a visit? Attorney Joshua Pex, an Israeli immigration lawyer, explains what to do and what to avoid, so that you will not get into the unfortunate situation of your friendship visa being rejected and your spouse being refused entry into Israeli.
So how can you invite a partner or foreign spouse to visit Israel?
There are two possible situations of inviting a foreign spouse to visit Israel:
(1) Inviting citizens of countries exempt from the requirement to obtain a visa before visiting Israel.
(2) Inviting citizens of states which are not exempt from said requirement.
First, it is important to know that even if a foreign citizen is invited to Israel from a “visa-free” country, problems may still arise when they try to enter Israel. Israelis who wish to invite a foreign friend or partner to visit Israel, (but not as an invitation to live together in Israel), may find their spouse forbidden to enter, as border control officials at Ben-Gurion Airport suspect that their entry into Israel is for the purpose of permanent settlement, and not just a short visit. It is worthwhile for foreign spouses entering Israel to obtain proof that their domicile, what Israeli legislation refers to as “center of life”, is in their home country. Such proof may include certificates that they own a residence, have a job, a bank account, etc. In addition, a ticket for the spouse’s return flight and a clear schedule for their Israeli visit can help dispel these concerns.
The person doing the inviting can also provide an explanation letter, including their phone number, so that border control officers can call them if necessary. If you have reason to fear your spouse will be denied entry, you may approach a Ministry of the Interior branch near your place of residence in order to arrange entry into Israel in advance.
Secondly, regarding those countries that are NOT exempt from visa requirements to enter Israel. When inviting citizens of these countries,there is not choice but to apply for an entry visa into Israel as a tourist, according to the Ministry of Interior (in Hebrew called Misrad Hapnim) procedure. In such situations, MoI officials may require a bank guarantee to ensure a timely exit from Israel, as well as a commitment that the foreign spouses will not submit an application for the extension of the visa or request for a change of status during the spouse’s visit to Israel.
What about entry into Israel for the purpose of marriage / cohabitation?
It is necessary to arrange the entry of the foreign spouse to Israel in advance!
Any Israeli who wishes to invite a foreign spouse to Israel must know that if border control officials at Ben Gurion Airport (or any other Israeli port of entry) have the impression that the purpose of entry of the foreign spouse to Israel is to reunite with their Israeli spouse and to settle in Israel in the long term – chances are that the they will delay or refuse permission to enter Israel.
If you wish to invite a foreign spouse to live with you in Israel, a different procedure must be followed.
Why regulate the entry of the foreign spouse into Israel?
The reason is simple. The procedures of the Ministry of Interior regarding foreign spouses or partners of Israelis, require that the marital status be clarified in advance. This includes obtaining an advanced entry permit into Israel. Israelis often believe that they can marry their foreign spouses outside of Israel, take them “back home”, and arrange for the legal status of the foreign spouses on the spot. But this is a serious mistake, which often leads to refusal of permission for the foreign spouses to enter Israel. This unfortunately results in considerable economic damage and psychological pressure for both spouses, due to their forced separation and the stressful situation that ensues.
If the Israeli citizen wants to issue a Friendship Visa to invite their foreign spouses to Israel to live with them in Israel, they are required to approach the Ministry of the Interior and invite them to Israel according to official procedures (such as submitting an application, payment of a fee, proof of “joint life” [prolonged cohabitation], etc.).
It is important to note that if the foreign spouse is already in Israel, they will not be denied access to the Ministry of the Interior in order to arrange their legal status. The problem exists at the border crossing upon the entry of foreign spouses to Israel in order to settle in Israel, without arranging the matter in advance.
For additional questions and legal advice, please contact Cohen, Decker, Pex & Brosh – Law Office for Immigration to Israel: