Naturalization after Service in the IDF and Other Exemption Conditions in Israel
Conditions for the Naturalization of a Soldier in the IDF and Other Exemptions from Naturalization Conditions
Naturalization After IDF service permits a permanent resident of Israel to obtain citizenship without fulfilling the various conditions that are required to obtain citizenship in accordance with Section 5 of the Nationality \ Citizenship Law, 1952.
This article discusses the available exemptions to the Nationality Law. For example, a parent whose son or daughter was killed during service in the IDF, or applicants with special circumstances that justify an exemption (this is at the discretion of the Minister of the Interior).
Conditions for Naturalization as Outlined in Section 5 of the law:
In order to become a citizen of Israel, an applicant who is not entitled to immigrate in accordance with the Law of Return must meet the following criteria:
- Be physically present in Israel.
- Reside in Israel for 3 years out of the last 5 years preceding the date of submission of their application.
- Be eligible for permanent resident status.
- Be settled in Israel or intend to settle in Israel.
- Know the Hebrew language.
- Give up previous citizenships or prove that they will be willing to cease to be a foreign citizen once they receive Israeli citizenship.
You can learn about the naturalization process in more depth in this article.
The Duty to Serve: Military Service in the IDF
According to the Defense Service Law of 1986, permanent residents and civilians are required to serve in the IDF. Internal IDF procedures provide for exemptions for certain civilians and permanent residents from service in the military due to special circumstances, but exempt individuals are often still permitted to enlist if they so choose.
A permanent resident who meets the relevant conditions for applying for citizenship after serving in the IDF actually becomes a citizen under Section 6 of the Nationality Law, which is less onerous. Citizens who do not serve in the military must go through the process under Section 5.
Citizenship under Section 6 of the Citizenship Law for IDF Soldiers
The Citizenship Bill Amendments which entered into force in 2014 exempt those who served in the IDF for 18 months and were lawfully discharged from the conditions for citizenship listed under Section 5 of the Citizenship Law.
If a soldier is released from military service in the IDF due to a conviction or due to some irregularity, then that soldier will not be entitled to an exemption from the conditions for naturalization. The Minister of the Interior oversees this process, and can make the determination of whether there are extenuating circumstance that justify individual soldiers receiving the exemption.
Soldiers are permitted to appeal any decision made by the Minister of the Interior, especially if the decision is made solely on the basis of the Minister’s discretion.
Who Else Can Gain from the Exemptions Under Section 6?
Anyone who has a son or daughter in active duty in the IDF will also be entitled to an exemption from the conditions outlined in Section 5 of the Citizenship Law. In addition, the Minister of the Interior may exempt any applicant from the Section 5 conditions (other than the condition of settling in Israel or expressing a desire to settle in Israel) if in their opinion there are circumstances which warrant an exemption.
Over the years, the Minister of the Interior has often exempted the requirement that applicants waive other citizenships in order to obtain Israeli citizenship, among other requirements. One of the exemptions is for elderly and single parents of Israeli citizens, or parents of soldiers serving in the IDF.
In addition, common law partners of Israeli citizens (who are not permanent residents) who have completed the process of waiving their other citizenships, are exempt from the Section 5 conditions. This was decided in Alon Maimon v. Ministry of the Interior.
Exemptions will not be Granted to Those who have not Settled in Israel and that do not plan on doing so
The condition that applicant be settled in Israel or have expressed a desire to do so will not be waived under any circumstances. It should be noted, however, that even if the applicant does not currently reside in Israel, they can still express a desire to settle in Israel.
Attorney Michael Decker, an Israeli immigration lawyer at the law offices of Cohen, Decker, Pex and Brosh, has represented clients whose requests for citizenship have gone before the Ministry of the Interior and been refused. Under his guidance, the applicants signed an affidavit which expressed a desire to settle in Israel, and the Ministry of the Interior reversed their decision. This allowed the applicants to begin the process of naturalization.
Contact a Lawyer that Specializes in Immigration Law and the Legal Conditions for Citizenship
Michael Decker has represented a variety of applicants and guided them through the process of obtaining citizenship. With his help, clients were able to navigate through the requirements of obtaining citizenship under the conditions set out in Section 5 and Section 6 of the Citizenship Law.
Both Michael Decker and the rest of the team of expert immigration lawyers at Cohen, Decker, Pex and Brosh have extensive experience at every stage of the proceedings required to obtain citizenship. Contact one of our experts for more information.