Israeli Citizenship for permanent residents aged 18-21
Israeli Citizenship for permanent residents of Israel who are not eligible for aliyah under the Law of Return (i.e, neither Jewish nor directly related to a Jewish parent or grandparent) is granted on the basis of the Citizenship Law – 1952.
Permanent residents of Israel in general, and specifically residents of East Jerusalem are entitled to Israeli citizenship. Obtaining the citizenship based on section 5 of the Citizenship Law requires proof that the applicant’s center of life is in Israel, and that they had renounced any other citizenship.
Residents of East Jerusalem who wish to become naturalized as Israelis often require legal assistance. The Israeli Population and Immigration Authority frequently delays the processing of applications by minority residents for naturalization under section 5 of the Citizenship Law.
However, there is another path to Israeli citizenship for permanent residents whose center of life is in Israel. Residents between the ages of 18 and 21 are entitled to Israeli citizenship for permanent residents under Article 4A of the Citizenship Law.
Attorney Michael Decker explains who can and who cannot obtain citizenship and an Israeli passport on the basis of this section.
What does Article 4A of the Citizenship Law say?
Article 4A of the Citizenship Law, by virtue of birth and residence in Israel, provides that:
“(A) a person who was born after the establishment of the State in a place which was Israeli territory on the day of his birth, and who has never had any nationality, shall become an Israeli national if he applies for it in the period between his eighteenth birthday and his twenty-first birthday and if he has been a resident of Israel for five consecutive years immediately preceding the day of the filling of his application.
(B) if a person who has filed an application under subsection (a) meets the conditions set out in that subsection, the Minister of the Interior or a person empowered by him in that behalf shall grant the application: Provided that he may refrain from granting the application if the applicant has been convicted of an offense against the security of the State, or has been sentenced to imprisonment for five years or more for another offense”.
What is the meaning and purpose of the Article?
The section was added to the Citizenship Law in 1968, as part of Amendment No. 2 of the law. According to Haim-Moshe Shapira, the Minister of the Interior at the time and initiator of the proposed amendment, section 4A is intended to “adopt the principles set forth in the Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness” and “to correct discrimination against Israeli residents who are members of ethnic minorities”.
In other words, the bill was specifically designed to solve the problem of minorities who remained stateless after the War of 1968 (Six day war). The language of the article does not expressly refer to residents of East Jerusalem, but this area is considered part of Israel according to precedents of legislation and case law.
However, the residents of the Judea and Samaria region would not be granted citizenship under this Article.
What is the difference between receiving citizenship for permanent residents on the basis of section 4A versus section 5 of the Israeli Citizenship Law?
There are certain advantages and disadvantages to obtaining Israeli citizenship on the basis of either section of the Citizenship Law.
As is clear from the language of the law, only residents of Israel between the ages of 18 and 21 are entitled to receive citizenship under section 4A.
In addition, the Population and Immigration Authority may refuse to approve the application if the applicant is convicted of a security offense or had was sentenced to a prison term equal or greater than 5 years.
Applicants for citizenship on the basis of Article 4A must prove that they have never held any citizenship.
By contrast, those who wish to become naturalized under section 5 are required to provide a waiver of foreign citizenship.
Applicants for naturalization under section 4A will be required to prove that they were born in Israeli territory. Section 5 has no restrictions based on place of birth, only residence.
The language of the law of section 4A is unequivocally phrased. Whoever meets the conditions of the section is entitled to Israeli citizenship.
Conversely, section 5 of the Citizenship Law ostensibly leaves the naturalization to discretion of the Minister of the Interior. The Minister may, “if he deems fit”, grant citizenship to anyone meeting the conditions of the section.
Citizenship based on section 5 requires a declaration of loyalty to the State of Israel prior to receiving citizenship.
Section 4A does not include the requirement that the naturalized person demonstrate “knowledge” of the Hebrew language. Persons who are naturalized under section 5 are required to pass a Hebrew language exam.
Why are most requests for citizenship based on other sections of the Citizenship Law?
It’s rare to request Israeli citizneship based on section 4A of the citizenship law.
Usually permanent residents obtain citizenship under section 5 of the Citizenship Law (naturalization for permanent residents).
Also, many foreigners in Israel who are married to Israelis will receive Israeli citizenship under section 7 of the Citizenship Law (naturalization by virtue of a spousal relationship with an Israeli citizen)
These are both familiar and well known ways to receive Israeli citizenship.
However, few applications are submitted for Israeli citizenship for permanent residents on the basis of section 4A of the Citizenship Law.
There is no established procedure for granting citizenship based on birth and residence in Israel for young people aged 18-21.
Press reports indicate that advocate Rami Yovel filed several petitions to the Supreme Court sitting as High Court of Justice regarding Israeli citizenship by virtue of birth and residence in Israel. However, the court did not issue a declaratory judgement, nor a significant discussion was held regarding the granting of Israeli citizenship under section 4a of the Citizenship Law. Instead, the petitioner was granted citizenship on the basis of Section 5 of the Citizenship Law.
Contact us, for legal aid with receiving Israeli Citizenship for permanent residents aged 18-21
Our firm specializes in immigration and citizenship in Israel.
We will be happy to provide legal assistance to Israeli residents who wish to become Israeli Citizens.
Make an appointment at our office in Jerusalem or Tel Aviv for advice and assistance. We will be happy to help you obtain Israeli citizenship for permanent residents.