How to Emigrate to Israel
Clients seeking to emigrate to Israel want to know about the options to become an Israeli citizen via Aliyah, but also other legal options to become an Israeli resident or citizen. This short article will address the 5 main ways to obtain Israeli citizenship.
How to Obtain Israeli Citizenship (How to Emigrate to Israel)
Citizenship through emigration \ repatriation (Aliyah)
Israel’s 1950 Law of Return indicates that Jews, their children, and grandchildren can emigrate to Israel. We explain more about the law of return; who is not permitted to emigrate in spite of Jewish ancestry; aliyah based on a DNA test; and more, in our article on obtaining citizenship. If you wish to emigrate to Israel and already entered the country with a B/2 tourist visa, please read more about aliyah (emigration) for tourists. It is also possible to emigrate to Israel after conversion to Judaism, which we discuss in our article on the subject.
Citizenship by adoption or birth to an Israeli parent
Israel’s Nationality Law indicates that any child born to an Israeli parent is entitled to Israeli citizenship. If an Israeli and a foreign spouse are not married or living together when the child is born, there will be additional bureaucratic hurdles in place and tests required (for example, a DNA test), but it is possible to successfully obtain citizenship for the child since they are entitled to it. Children who are legally adopted by a Jewish person are entitled to Israeli citizenship. Children who are adopted de facto (without the required legal documentsa) may not necessarily be eligible to Israeli citizenship.
Citizenship through naturalization (relevant for Israeli permanent residents)
Israel has many permanent residents who are not officially citizens of the country. Most prominently and relevantly to obtaning citizeanship, Palestinians from East Jerusalem and foreigners married to Israeli citizens. So long as the permanent resident 1) lives in Israel, 2) can prove that their center of life is in the country, 3) is recognized as a permanent residents 4) wishes to be an Israeli citizen, 5) knows at least some Hebrew, and 6) are willing to renounce their former nationality, they are eligible for Israeli citizenship. You can read more about applying for Israeli nationality for permanent residents aged 18-21 here.
Citizenship through marriage to an Israeli citizen
Foreign citizens married to Israeli citizens are eligible for citizenship through a drawn-out naturalization process that generally takes at least five years. It is also possible for partners who are not legally married but who have lived together as spouses to obtain permanent residency. We further discuss emigration through marriage and how it works for non-Jewish family members in many other articles on our site.
Citizenship granted by the Israeli Minister of Interior
The Israeli Minister of Interior is given the authority to grant Israeli citizenship to permanent residents and their family members. This is the rarest of all the emigration/citizenship options, and it is generally only used when a person or their family has contributed to Israel’s security or economy in a significant way.
If you wish to learn more about how to emigrate to Israel or seek legal assistance in this process, please contact us. Advocate Michael Decker specializes in Israeli emigration law, and he would be happy to assist with all your legal needs.