How to obtain legal status in Israel as a Foreign Spouse of an Israeli Citizen?

Marriage visa Israel procedure

The Israeli Citizenship Act allows foreign residents to naturalize in Israel and receive Israeli citizenship or permanent residence. This article, by advocate Joshua Pex, explains how the stages of obtaining a legal status in Israel. The article also deals with the rights and procedures that concern the foreign spouse’s minor children. It should be noted that marriage to an Israeli citizen does not grant the foreign spouse an absolute right to obtain status – the couple have to undergo a “gradual process”, receiving a number of visas along the way. Permanent residence or citizenship in Israel are obtained at the end of the process, after approximately five years.

NOTE: This article does not apply to foreign spouses of Israelis residing in Judea, Samaria and the Gaza strip.

In order to facilitate and expedite this Israeli marriage visa process, we recommend using the services of our expert legal team. Members of our team include experts in naturalization and immigration to Israel, who have a great deal of experience with this procedure.

Who Can Use This Service?

Foreign citizens residing in Israel or abroad, may request an Israeli marriage visa based on their relationship with an Israeli citizen.

The Procedure

If the foreign spouse resides in Israel the request should be made in Israel, at the Population Authority’s regional bureau at the Ministry of Interior office closest to their domicile. If both partners reside abroad, the foreign spouse must submit the request before their arrival to Israel at the closest Israeli consulate. If the Israeli partner is in Israel, but the foreign spouse is abroad, the Israeli must receive permission for their foreign partner to enter Israel in advance by issuing an invitation via the Israeli Ministry of Interior.

During the evaluation process the spouse shall be granted a temporary residence permit in Israel, and a work visa with a six-month validity. While the evaluation is in process, this permit shall be extended as required. At the conclusion of the evaluation, if the request is granted, the spouse will commence a progressive naturalization process which lasts approximately four years. If it is found that the procedure was not adhered to or that incomplete information has been provided, the Authority is permitted to revoke any previously granted permit.

Before Submitting the Israeli Marriage Visa Application

Before submitting the request for a spousal visa to Israel, one must ensure that:

  1. The applicants can be physically present. Physical presence is mandatory. If the spouses reside in Israel, both are required to be personally present at the Israeli Ministry of Interior regional bureau; if the foreign spouse resides abroad, the Israeli spouse is required to be personally present at the bureau; if both spouses reside abroad both are required to be personally present at the Israeli consulate closest to their domicile.
  2. The applicants have prepared the required set of documents (referred to as “threshold documents“):
    1) filled and signed request forms.
    2) an original, authenticated and translated marriage certificate.
    3) the appropriate photos of both spouses.
    4) the Israeli identity card of the Israeli spouse, and at a consulate – the Israeli passport.
    5) the foreign spouse’s foreign passport, valid for at least two years.
    6) a letter signed by both spouses presenting the nature of their relationship.
  3. The appropriate original, authenticated and translated documentation pertaining the foreign spouse has been prepared:
    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 spouse’s country of origin, which indicates their current and previous personal status.
    4) an up-to-date certificate confirming the lack of a criminal record (required also for minors over the age of 16).
  4. Proof of a common center of life in Israel has been prepared: this consists of any indication on the genuineness of the relationship and the existence of a common center of life – rental contracts, common bank accounts, letters from friends and family members, etc.
  5. An affidavit prepared by both spouses: In this they need to declare the authenticity of the documentation and commit to inform the authorities on any change in their circumstances.
  6. Foreign citizens from the former Soviet Union states: They shall be directed to receive an evaluation from the Liaison Bureau (Nativ).

Additional Documents Required for Accompanying Minors

The following documents are required for accompanying minors (children of the foreign spouse from a previous marital relationship): 1) an original, authenticated and translated birth certificate, 2) a foreign passport, valid for at least two years, 3) an authorization from the minor’s other parent, 4) for minors over 15, proof of custody by the foreign spouse for at least two years prior to the request date.

Israeli Marriage Visa Application Fee

The charges for the Israeli marriage visa service are listed in the Israel Ministry of Interior (Misrad HaPanim) fee schedule.

How to Submit the Request

The request is to be made at the Population Authority’s bureau at the Ministry of Interior office closest to the domicile of the Israeli spouse or, in the event both spouses reside abroad, at the Israeli consulate closest to their domicile.

How the Request Is Handled

  1. At the time the request for an Israeli marriage visa is submitted, a Population Authority clerk will identify all applicants, open a new computerized file and check the passports, marriage certificate and the foreign spouse’s personal documents. The personal status of the Israeli spouse will be updated accordingly.
  2. A Population Authority employee will check:
    1) the background records of the Israeli and foreign spouses as they appear in the Authority’s systems.
    2) the proof substantiating the genuineness of the relationship and the existence of a common center of life.
    3) whether there exists a criminal record or a security-based hindrance (both spouses and any minors over 14 will be evaluated), or whether the foreign spouse is a citizen of a risk state.
  3. If all the threshold documents are in order, the foreign spouse will be provided with a B/1 residence permit, valid for six months. If the permit cannot be granted due to existing restrictions, the request shall be forwarded to the Bureau’s Visa Center for further evaluation.
  4. If there are missing documents according to the Israeli marriage visa procedure, the couple shall receive a detailed list of what is still required, and these documents are due by the future date appointed for the next phase of the process, at the Visa Division. If these documents are not submitted by the due date, the request will be summarily denied. If the couple requires additional time, they must present a written request for an extension.

After the Request Is Received

  1. Before approving or rejecting the request, the Population Authority workers shall perform a thorough evaluation of the Israeli marriage visa application. During the course of the evaluation the Authority may interview the spouses, perform an evaluation of the genuineness of the relationship and the existence of a common center of life, and determine whether there is a criminal or security-based hindrance.
  2. If a doubt arises with respect to the genuineness of the relationship, the Visa Center may extend the B/1 residence permit for an additional six months at the end of which the genuineness of the relationship shall be re-evaluated. Alternatively, the Authority may condition the continuation of the process on a security deposit.
  3. If the request has been denied, the couple shall be asked to return to the Population Authority’s bureau where they shall receive a full written explanation, and the foreign spouse shall be requested to depart from Israel within 30 days (14 days if they are staying in Israel illegally).
  4. If the request has been approved, the couple shall be asked to return to the Population Authority’s bureau where they will receive an A/5 temporary residence permit which will mark the beginning of the progressive process.

Inviting a Foreign Spouse to Israel

The request must be made prior to the arrival of the foreign spouse to Israel. If during the last year prior to the request, the couple’s center of life was abroad, they must present proof substantiating the genuineness of the relationship and of the existence of their joint household. A decision regarding extending an invitation to the spouse will be given within 45 days. If there is not enough proof to substantiate the genuineness of the relationship, the Visa Center may decline the request or request to interview both spouses; the Israeli spouse’s interview shall take place in Israel, and the foreign spouse shall be interviewed in the appropriate Israeli consulate.

If the request is approved, the appropriate visa shall be sent to the consulate. This visa is only valid for 30 days. Accordingly, the couple must refer to the Authority’s bureau within 30 days of the arrival of the foreign spouse to Israel, and the process will continue there.

A Couple that Desires to Marry Abroad

If the foreign spouse is legally staying in Israel, they can ask for a re-entry visa. Based on an initial evaluation of the genuineness of the relationship, they will be issued a three-month B/2 permit and be authorized to re-enter.

When Both Spouses Reside Abroad

The request must be made prior to the arrival of the foreign spouse to Israel. If during the last year prior to the request the couple’s center of life was abroad, they must present proof substantiating the genuineness of the relationship and of the existence of their joint household. A decision regarding extending an invitation to the spouse will be given within 45 days. If there is not enough proof to substantiate the genuineness of the relationship, the Consul may condition the continuation of the process on a security deposit.

If the request is approved, the appropriate visa shall be sent to the consulate. This visa is only valid for 30 days. Accordingly, the couple must refer to the Authority’s bureau within 30 days of the arrival of the foreign spouse to Israel, and the process will continue there.

The Progressive Process

Upon approval of the Israeli marriage visa request, the foreign spouse (and any accompanying minors) will be granted an Israeli temporary residence (A/5 permit) valid for one year. The foreign spouse shall be registered in the population registry and will be granted a temporary identity card. This permit shall be extended once a year up to a total of four years.

During the progressive process, the couple shall be interviewed, and there shall 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 spouse 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 shall be granted.

If the relationship has terminated or if the Israeli spouse is deceased, the progressive process shall be terminated.

Ending the Process

No later than three months before the end of the fourth year of stay, the foreign spouse must notify the Authority’s bureau regarding their chosen status, Israeli citizenship or a permanent residence permit. This notification requires the personal presence of both spouses.

There shall be an evaluation to determine that there has been no change in the circumstances, that the marriage is still valid and genuine, that the center of life is in Israel, and if an accompanying minor is involved, that there is no opposition on the part of the other parent.

The Naturalization Process

If the spouse desires to naturalize as an Israeli citizen, they must have resided in Israel at least three of the last five years and must have been residing in Israel continuously for the last two years (with the exception of short vacations). The spouse must also be eligible to become a citizen.

The bureau staff will prepare a naturalization file, and the couple shall be required to take an oath of allegiance to the State of Israel. Presently, a new identity card shall be issued and, at their explicit request, a new passport shall be issued.

We are at Your Service

If you need an expert in matters of Israeli marriage visas or a naturalization and immigration lawyer to Israel, you’ve found the right place. Our law office – Cohen, Decker, Pex & Brosh – is at your service.

We specialize in the area of immigration to Israel. Please contact us for more information.

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