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Joint Life Application in Israel for a Foreign Partner


Michael Decker

A “joint life application” starts the process of providing legal status in Israel for the foreign partner of an Israeli citizen / resident. There are two ways to open a joint life application in Israel. One is for a married couple (via procedure 5.2.0008), while the other is for a cohabiting partners, also known as a common law marriage, or in Hebrew “Yaduim BeTzibur” couple (via procedure 5.2.0009).

These two ways are as follows:

  • The spouse enters Israel as a tourist (via a B-2 visa), and the couple starts a joint life application at the Israeli immigration authority in Israel together. The couple will need to submit a request to extend the foreign spouse’s visa until the appointment is scheduled for the opening of a joint life application;
  • The Israeli partner invites the foreign spouse into the country for the purpose of opening a joint life application. The foreign spouse enters Israel only after the invitation has been approved and continues with the naturalization process in Israel.

The Israeli Ministry of Interior policy regarding joint life application

Joint Life Application in Israel for a Foreign PartnerThe Israeli interior ministry (Misrad hapnim) would rather have all Israeli partners invite their foreign spouses into Israel in advance. If border control or MoI officials discover that a foreign spouse is attempting to visit the country without an approved invitation, then they may very well deny the spouse’s entry into Israel.

However, if both partners are in Israel, then based on HCJ 3648/97 Stamka vs. the Interior Ministry, the Ministry of Interior’s request that the foreign spouse leave the country would be in the wrong. The HJC stated that it is actually much more productive to determine the authenticity of a relationship when both partners are residing in Israel.

Refusal of entry into Israel:

Notwithstanding the above, the Stamka Precedent does not limit the Ministry of Interior’s discretion as it relates to the border control officials and their decisions to reject a visitor’s entry into Israel. The MoI may reject a person’s entry into the country for a variety of reasons.

These reasons include, among others: security reasons (based on Interpol or intelligence/security sources), the visitor lacking basic resources (and cannot prove that they have a job, or a center of life to return to, at the time of their claimed departure from Israel), if suspicion arises that this person is visiting Israel for work purposes without the relevant visa, if suspicion arises that this person would like to study in Israel without the relevant visa, if suspicion arises that this person would like to volunteer in Israel without the relevant visa, if suspicion arises that this person would like to infringe in the safety and welfare of the public (such as criminal activity, BDS activity, missionary activity, etc), and also if suspicion arises that this person has a romantic relationship with an Israeli partner.

Thus, on the one hand, the MoI may reject the entry into Israel of a foreign spouse. Provided, that is, that the foreign spouse is not officially approved to enter Israel due to the relationship with the Israeli spouse.

On the other hand, if the foreign spouse is already in the country, and based on the Stamka Precedent, the interior ministry cannot request that the foreign spouse will leave the country (except for very extreme situations, wherein it is clear that the foreign spouse is looking for every way to remain in the country, and wherein it is clear that the relationship is not “sincere” and authentic).

Cohen, Decker, Pex, Brosh’s experience with joint life applications

Our office handles many cases wherein a couple attempting to open a joint life application in good faith receives a demand, by the Israeli Ministry of Interior clerks, for the foreign spouse to leave the country. Said spoJoint Life Applicationuse then has to be re-invited, with no exceptional justification at all for the demand.

Our firm is almost always able to challenge this demand by the Ministry of Interior. The relevant court will generally side with the couple. This it the case even when the circumstances may create foundation for reasonable suspicion about the authenticity of the relationship. One example is the case of Appeal 3826/08 Eli Piru and Yifru Katma Beit Lechem vs. the Interior Ministry.  A photo of the decision is attached to this article as an illustration.

Unfortunately, many couples do not consult with a lawyer after receiving such a demand. As a result, the foreign spouse leaves the country (even though the MoI’s demand is not legally justified, and could be challenged).

Refusal to issue an invitation for a foreign spouse

The MoI occasionally rejects the application for invitation into the country of a foreign spouse (in order to open a joint life application in Israel), which then forces the couple to appeal and engage in litigation proceedings before the special immigration tribunal. All the while, the foreign spouse is forced to remain outside the country, and the couple is forcibly separated during this period.

It should be stated that it is much more advantageous to appeal MoI decisions while both partners are in Israel. This stops the couple from being separated, sometimes for long periods of time. Furthermore, personal testimony and appeals hold more say over the court’s decision than abstract documents.

What to do if the foreign partner was already refused entry into Israel?

It may be more advantageous to open a joint life application while both partners of the union are in Israel. However, it is not possible to assure that the foreign spouse will be permitted entry into the country. If MoI officials suspect that a romantic relationship exists between the Israeli and the foreign spouse, they may refuse entry.

If the foreign spouse has been refused entry into the country, then there is no other option other than inviting the foreign spouse into Israel for the purpose of opening a joint life application. Entry refusal, in and of itself, should not be considered a reason to create additional difficulties in regards to the relevant proceedings of inviting a foreign spouse into the country for the purpose of opening a joint life application.

Contact our immigration to Israel specialists

If you or your spouse have trouble with opening a joint life application, contact us. Whether the spouse’s entry was refused or your right to invite them to Israel was denied, we can help. The Israeli spouse should arrange a consultation with an Israeli immigration lawyer in Petakh Tikva or Jerusalem. Our law office has two branches, both staffed with qualified immigration to Israel lawyers.

Joint Life Application

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