Israel Citizenship Law
The Israeli citizenship law, a comprehensive guide.
Israeli citizenship was given to some of us at birth. Others developed an interest in Israel citizenship law when the need for immigration first came up. For an Israeli citizen, questions about the right for Israeli citizenship often rise when marrying or entering a relationship with a foreign national who is not Jewish, or having to claim Israeli citizenship via paternity for a child of an Israeli. The issue of Israeli citizenship are also relevant for permanent residents who want to request citizenship, of for foreign spouses of Israelis who wish to bring home to Israel an elderly parent. Also an Israeli soldier who is currently serving in the IDF, or has completed Israeli military service, has the legal right to help his parents in the process of claiming Israeli citizenship.
The following guide will help you understand the Israeli citizenship laws, and how to obtain Israeli citizenship, if you are eligible.
Beneficiaries of Israel Citizenship Law
The inherent right of birth – section 4 of the Law:
Being born in Israel to parents who are Israeli citizens or being born abroad to Israeli citizen parents, grants Israeli citizenship, according to the Law of Citizenship – 1952. It’s important to note that it’s enough that one of the parents is Israeli, in order to pass on the citizenship by birth right to the child. However, for children that were born out of marriage, or whose parent didn’t register the birth in time, especially in cases that the birth was outside of Israel, the Israeli Population and Immigration authority will most likely ask for a DNA test and court decision, on order to register the child as an Israeli citizen. You can read more about Israeli citizenship via paternity exam in this article, on our website.
Israeli citizens that adopt a foreign child will also be granted Israeli citizenship for their adopted baby.
Those who are eligible under the “Law of Return”:
The “Law of Return” was legislated in 1950, just two years after the state of Israel was established in order to encourage Jews from all over the world to return to their homeland of Israel. Jews or their descendants are eligible to receive Israeli citizenship, together with their spouses and children. Jewish families can make what is known as ‘Aliya’, or immigration to Israel under the law, granting them almost instant Israeli citizenship upon arrival in Israel.
Marriage to an Israeli, or common-law union – section 7 of the Law:
A process where an Israeli citizen, legally married or in a common-law union with a non-Israeli, applies for citizenship being granted to the spouse, who is not an Israeli national and is not Jewish. The process may take between 5 and 7 years and starts with the Ministry of Internal Affairs verifying and investigating the nature of the couple’s relationship. Once the ministry is satisfied, the sponsored spouse receives a visitor’s visa, followed by a work permit, a temporary renewable residency, and at the end, Israeli permanent residency or Israeli citizenship.
Israeli citizenship for residents of Israel – section 5 of the Law:
Claiming Israeli citizenship is also possible for those who hold a legal status called “permanent residency”. In Hebrew this status is known as “Toshav Keva”. A permanent resident who has been legally residing in Israel for at least three years may be eligible for citizenship. The applicant might be requested to prove his intentions to continue and live in Israel, demonstrate some competency in Hebrew and be willing to revoke other citizenships. You can read more about this process in this article on our website.
Israeli citizenship law, simplified
Israeli citizenship can be obtained by birthright or the Law of Return. Israeli citizenship can be granted by adoption, by marriage to an Israeli citizen, by legally residing in Israel for an extended period of time or granted as special honor by the Minister of Internal Affairs. Obtaining Israeli citizenship and understanding the Israeli law of citizenship is easier said than done. The legal process of claiming your citizenship is long, complicated, and you might need legal assistance facing the Israeli immigration authorities. Due to the complexity of the issue, and often the family at stake, we highly recommend consulting with an Israeli immigration lawyer who is skilled at all stages of this process.