An Israeli Citizenship Lawyer
Ways to Obtain Israeli Citizenship
In this article we will lay out the common ways to receive Israeli citizenship as stated in the law. An Israeli citizen is different from a permanent resident of Israel and a temporary resident of Israel, as well as anyone residing in Israel on different Israeli visa categories. One distinct way this differs is demonstrated by the fact that only Israeli citizens have Israeli passports. The issue of Israeli citizenship is determined by the 1952 Citizenship Law, also known as the Israeli Nationality Law. This law, which was legislated by the Israeli parliament (Knesset) four years after the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, has been amended several times since, but in essence has remained the same and outlines the ways to acquire Israeli citizenship.
Cohen, Decker, Pex & Brosh law firm specializes in Israeli immigration, and we practice all areas of immigration to Israel, including legal assistance in obtaining Israeli citizenship and an Israeli passport. We will be glad to assist you if you have run into difficulties with the Ministry of Interior, the Israeli government agency authorized to issue Israeli citizenship.
Israeli Citizenship through Aliyah to Israel according to the Law of Return
The main and most common way non-Israelis receive Israeli citizenship is through making aliyah to Israel, according to the 1950 Law of Return. Aliyah to Israel is possible for Jews or descendants of Jews and their spouses. The law of citizenship grants the right to new immigrants to receive Israeli citizenship immediately according to the law of return. In 2014, almost 25,000 people from around the world made aliyah and received Israeli citizenship.
Israeli Citizenship through Birth or Adoption
Any baby born to an Israeli father or mother is an Israeli citizen by birth, according to the Israeli Nationality Law, even if the birth took place outside of Israel. However, in cases where the father is Israeli, but the mother is not, and the couple was neither married nor living together at the time of the birth, there could be issues with registering the child on the birth certificate, and receiving Israeli citizenship might be a problem. In these cases, Israeli Ministry of Interior clerks will most likely demand evidence that the father of the newborn is actually an Israeli citizen before registering the baby as an Israeli citizen. The proof requested may be documents showing the relationship between the parents or even the demand that the parents bring a court order from the family court ordering the Ministry of Interior to register the child as an Israeli citizen. For the Israeli family court to give such a court order, the state lawyers who represent Misrad HaPanim (the Ministry of Interior) usually request that the parents take a DNA test, which will prove the father of the child is an Israeli citizen.
Also, a baby adopted by Israeli parents will receive Israeli citizenship on the day of the adoption if either the adoptive father or mother are Israeli citizens.
Israeli Citizenship through Naturalization
Israeli permanent residents who are not Israeli citizens may receive citizenship by way of naturalization when meeting the following criteria:
1. They reside in Israel.
2. They stayed in Israel at least three out of the last five years, proving that their center of life is in Israel
3. They are recognized as Israeli permanent residents.
4. They have settled in Israel or wish to settle in Israel.
5. They have some knowledge of the Hebrew language.
6. They have renounced any previous nationality or prove that this will be done when they become Israeli.
Any person who wants to acquire Israeli citizenship by way of naturalization will need to pledge allegiance by way of a declaration as follows: “I declare I will be a loyal citizen of the State of Israel.”
Israeli Citizenship through Marriage
The Citizenship Law states that when a married couple is composed of one Israeli citizen and the other is a non-Israeli, the Israeli may grant citizenship to their spouse by way of naturalization. The Israeli citizenship, however, is not granted immediately, rather it is a process of approximately five years, during which the Ministry of Interior annually examines the ongoing relationship and grants temporary status in Israel for one year at a time. During this gradual process for Israeli citizenship, the non-Israeli spouse will first receive a work visa and later on temporary residency; by the end of the process the right to citizenship or permanent residency is granted. Israeli court precedents have ruled over the years that this right is also available for couples who are not legally married but are living together as husband and wife. At the end of the process, the foreign spouse has the right to receive Israeli citizenship.
Israeli Citizenship through a Decision by the Minister of Interior
The Israeli Nationality Act states that the Israeli Minister of Interior has the legal authority to decide to grant Israeli citizenship to a permanent resident of Israel or his/her immediate family in cases where they have helped the security or economy of the State of Israel or have made a special contribution to Israel.
At Cohen, Decker, Pex & Brosh, we practice Israeli immigration law and provide legal assistance helping our clients obtain citizenship in Israel. We also provide numerous articles addressing areas falling under immigration law, including all sorts of visas and issues that can arise.
Please contact us for more information on Israeli citizenship or immigration to Israel.