Israel’s Common-Law Marriage Process for Foreigners
Obtaining an Israeli Visa By Way of Israeli Common-Law Marriage
This article describes the rights granted to common-law partners of Israelis under The Israeli Citizenship Act permitting them to receive a spousal or “friendship visa” and become permanent residents of Israel according to the gradual process, which consists of:
1) checking the request.
2) granting a temporary work visa.
3) granting Israeli temporary residency.
4) and, the right to become an Israeli. Please note that this Israeli Ministry of Interior procedure also applies to same-sex common-law partners. If the couple is legally married, there is a different procedure, namely, the granting of legal status for foreign citizens married to Israelis.
In order to facilitate and expedite this process, we recommend using the services of our expert legal team from Cohen, Decker, Pex & Brosh. Among the members of our team you will find an expert in naturalization and immigration to Israel and a lawyer with expertise in this Israeli common-law marriage procedure.
Who Can Use This Service?
Common-law partners of Israeli citizens or permanent residents of Israel.
The Israeli Common-Law Marriage Process
The request should be made in Israel at the Population Authority in the Ministry of Interior’s (Misrad HaPanim) regional bureau closest to the common-law couple’s domicile.
What Do I Need to Do Before Submitting a Request?
Before submitting the request one must ensure that:
- The applicants for an Israeli common-law marriage visa or FriendShip Visa must be physically present. The physical presence of both partners is mandatory.
- The applicants must have the required set of documents:
1) filled and signed request forms.
2) the appropriate photos of both spouses.
3) the Israeli identity card of the Israeli partner.
4) the foreign spouse’s foreign passport, valid for at least two years.
5) a letter signed by both spouses regarding the nature of their relationship.
- The original, authenticated, and translated documentation regarding the foreign partner:
1) a birth certificate.
2) a public certificate indicating a name change (if such a name change has occurred).
3) a public certificate originating in the partner’s country of origin, which indicates their current and previous personal status (married, single, divorced, etc.).
4) an up-to-date certificate confirming the lack of a criminal record.
- Proof of a common center of life in Israel: This consists of any indication on the genuineness of the relationship and the existence of a common center of life like rental contracts, common bank accounts, letters from friends and family members (the friend or family member writing the letter should attach a copy of their Israeli identity card to the letter), etc.
- An affidavit prepared by both partners: This affidavit should indicate the authenticity of the documentation and commit to inform the authorities on any change in their circumstances.
- Foreign citizens from the former Soviet Union states: These citizens will be directed to receive an evaluation from the Liaison Bureau (Nativ).
- The personal status of the partners: The status should be “unattached” (single, divorced, or widowed). “Attached” partners will be required to prove they have made significant efforts to dissolve their marriage.
- A declaration has been signed: In this document the foreign partner declares that they understand that the request will be summarily dismissed unless all required documentation is submitted within 45 days.
How to Submit the Request
The request is to be submitted at the Population Authority’s bureau closest to the partners’ domicile.
How the Request is Handled by the Israeli Ministry of Interior
- At the time the request is submitted a Population Authority employee will identify all applicants, open a new computerized file, and will check the entry and exit records of the foreign partner, as well as the validity of all the required documentation.
- A Population Authority employee will check:
1) whether the foreign partner has been limited entrance (or that any such limitation was issued in the past five years).
2) whether the foreign partner is illegally residing in Israel, whether there is a pending deportation order against them, or whether they have been deported from Israel in the past.
3) whether the Israeli partner has been limited entry to the country or whether their permit is limited in any way.
4) the proof substantiating the genuineness of the relationship and the existence of a common center of life.
5) whether they have a criminal record or a security-based hindrance (with respect to any of the partners), or whether the foreign spouse is a citizen of a diagnosis state or a risk state.
- If the foreign partner holds a valid visa to Israel, this permit will be extended until the completion of the evaluation of this request. A partner that does not hold a valid permit to Israel will not be deported until the completion of the evaluation of this request. If there is a pending enforcement action against the foreign partner, an inquiry will be launched in order to determine whether to continue or suspend such action.
- If the foreign partner holds a valid Israeli visa which they obtained according to a progressive process with a partner with whom they are no longer in a relationship, that permit will be cancelled, and they will be issued a B/2 visa to Israel, valid until the completion of the evaluation of this request.
Israel Common-Law Marriage Procedure after the Request is Received
- If any of the partners has been issued entrance limitations or if the foreign partner is a citizen of a risk state, the request will be forwarded to the various internal departments and a consultation will follow with the appropriate security authorities, resulting in an evaluation of the proper course of action for serving this request.
- Before approving or rejecting the request, the Population Authority clerk will perform a thorough evaluation. During the course of the evaluation the Ministry of Interior may interview the partners, perform an evaluation of the genuineness of the relationship and the existence of a common center of life, and check the existence of a criminal or security-based hindrance.
- If any of the partners’ status is “attached,” the partners will be required to describe the manner in which their relationship is exclusive and unique, and to present (original, validated, and translated) public certificates indicating their efforts to dissolve the marital relationship.
- If a doubt arises with respect to the genuineness of the relationship or the documentation indicating the dissolution of marital relationships is deemed unsatisfactory, the request will be denied. However, if a doubt arises with respect to the genuineness of the relationship, the Authority may condition admittance into the progressive process for a spousal visa on a security deposit.
- If the request has been denied, the couple will be asked to return to the Population Authority’s bureau where they will receive a full written explanation and the foreign partner will be asked to depart Israel within 30 days (14 days if they are illegally staying in Israel). If they fail to report to the bureau, this letter will be sent via registered mail. A notice will be added to their file and a five-year limitation will be issued.
- If the request is denied, it is permissible to re-apply, but only one year after the last decision was given on this matter. There are exceptions to this rule, for example, if a request is denied due to a lack of documentation, when such documentation is presented or if the couple can prove a significant change in their circumstances.
- If the foreign partner has submitted an additional request based on a different procedure, they will be required to choose one or the other and to declare their choice in writing. The non-chosen procedure will be cancelled.
- If the request for a spousal visa is approved, the couple will be asked to return to the Population Authority’s bureau where they will be issued a one-year B/1 temporary work permit which will mark the beginning of the progressive process.
The Progressive Process
When the inviting partner is an Israeli citizen: Upon approval of the Israeli spousal visa request, the foreign partner will be granted a one-year B/1 temporary work permit. This permit will be extended once a year up to a total of three years. After three years, the foreign partner will be upgraded to the status of a temporary resident and issued a one-year A/5 residence permit.
Every year, during the progressive process, the couple will be interviewed and there will be a re-evaluation of the genuineness of the relationship and its continuation, the existence of a joint center of life in Israel, and the existence of any criminal or security-based hindrance. During this period, the foreign partner must request an extension to the permit and must present this request no later than three months prior to its expiration. The permit will generally be extended for a period of one year. If it is not possible to make a decision by the time the permit expires, and there is no security-based hindrance, a six-month extension will be granted.
If the relationship is terminated or if the Israeli partner is deceased, the progressive process will be terminated.
A special evaluation process applies to requests based on documentation from El-Salvador.
When the inviting partner is a permanent resident: The process will be identical to the aforementioned one (“When the inviting partner is an Israeli citizen”), with the exception that the progressive process will consist of a four-year period on a B/1 work visa followed by a five-year period on an A/5 temporary permit.
Ending the Process for the Common-Law Marriage Procedure
At the end of the progressive process, the foreign partner will be eligible to request an Israeli permanent residence permit according to the prescribed procedures.
If you need an expert in matters of naturalization in Israel, you’ve reached the right place. Our law office Cohen, Decker, Pex & Brosh is at your service. We specialize in the areas of immigration to Israel and our team has an Israeli immigration lawyer.
Please contact us for more information regarding a spousal visa or immigration to Israel.
A reference to the complete procedure for Israeli common-law marriage partners can be found on the Israeli Ministry of Interior’s website: http://www.piba.gov.il/Regulations/5.2.0009.pdf.