Obtaining an Israeli Friendship Visa: What to Expect During an Interview
Questions that are frequently asked during relationship interviews when gaining a friendship visa
In some cases, Israeli immigration laws allow foreign citizens to obtain an Israeli friendship visa. This allows them to enter Israel and eventually gain permanent legal status in the country. If a foreign citizen is married or in a serious relationship with an Israeli citizen or permanent resident, and they are living together, they are eligible for this opportunity.
The gradual process for granting Israeli citizenship to foreign spouses or partners is complicated. There are several legal guidelines and stages that last between 5-7 years. This process is known as the gradual process and is managed entirely by the Israeli Ministry of Interior (also known as Misrad Hapnim).
The friendship visa application requires the submission of various documents and several in-depth interviews. This is to establish if the couple qualifies to obtain legal status in Israel. These documents must be submitted at the Population and Immigration Authority’s office. Following this, the couple undergo an interview process.
In this article, we will explain regarding the questions that are most likely to be asked during the interview process.
Tips for the gradual process
It is essential for couples who are trying to obtain status in Israel to undergo the gradual process in the most efficient way. Nearly 3,000 couples go through this process each year, so it is highly important to ease the burden placed on interior ministry clerks and help them help you. Your primary priority is to remain organized, even resorting to professional help. Israeli immigration lawyers can make the process more successful and orderly in terms of document submissions and suggested behavior for interviews.
Terminated process and appeal to the special committee
There are many factors that can lead to the termination of a gradual process; problems with obtaining documents, difficulty proving the authenticity of the relationship, or separation of the couple. If a couple gets divorced or separated before the foreign spouse gains permanent status in Israel, the case will usually be referred to a special committee, in order to determine the right to stay in Israel.
The committee will review the relationship between the Israeli and foreign spouse, and the reason for their separation. For example, if the foreign spouse is experiencing violence at the hands of their Israeli spouse, and this is the reason why the couple split up before the process is completed, a Population Authority employee will review the situation. Depending on whether or not the couple had kids and evidence proves it was a genuine marriage; the foreign spouse can be referred to the humanitarian committee, where they can then possibly receive a temporary residence permit lasting up to two years.
Similarly, if the Israeli spouse dies before the process is completed, and their widow(er) wishes to remain in Israel, they must undergo an interview to determine if the relationship was genuine. Following that, their case is determined and they can receive a permit to stay in Israel for longer as well. Here to, having children with the Israeli spouse will help prove the relationship was “sincere”. Of course, each situation is complex and dependent on specific circumstances.
Questions during relationship interview – be prepared
The interview process at the Israeli Ministry of Interior consists of a series of questions that are meant to examine the sincerity of the relationship, which then leads to the decision of whether the partner should be allowed to have Israeli citizenship.
The interview process is meant to review the entire history of the relationship, including how the couple met, how they fell in love, etc. It is important for partners to be highly familiar with each other’s lives, background and their relationship as a whole, in order to avoid any contradictions within the interviews. Although most spouses in real relationships will not have to memorize an immense amount of new information about each other, immigration lawyers do suggest that couples get to know each other better, and keep intimate details in mind – things like dates of birth, names of family members, etc.
Additionally, spouses are advised to provide well-organized files that are easy to navigate through; this is to show the clerks at the Israeli Ministry of Interior that you orderly, motivated, and serious about gaining Israeli citizenship. This includes providing notarized translations of documents from abroad, complete with apostille stamp, and having all of the necessary evidence to show the authenticity of the relationship.
While all of this is important, it is also important to remain calm and handle the gradual process with proper manners and respect for Ministry of Interior workers. Failing to do so and creating a hostile environment with the employees handling your case may result in the process being delayed or terminated even if you have all the documents. In the event, it is important for couples to know their legal rights and stand up for them when necessary, even appealing negative decisions to the MoI or the Israeli court system.
What are some frequently asked questions in the interview?
As mentioned previously, there are various sets of questions that couples are expected to answer within the interview; some of these questions may seem out of nowhere or irrelevant to the situation, but it is important to answer everything clearly and honestly. Here is a compiled list of some general questions couples should be prepared for:
- How, when, and where did you meet?
- How many relatives does your spouse have? (including siblings, their names, parent’s names, and where they live)
- What is the relationship between the spouse and their relatives?
- How many spouses have they had before?
- What is their birthday?
- Where was the spouse born? When did they make Aliyah?
- Did they serve in the army? If so, where?
- Who are their best friends?
- How did they celebrate birthdays? Where? With whom? Did they get any gifts?
- How did they celebrate holidays? Were they together? Where? With whom?
- How many children do they have, if any?
- When you were abroad together, who met you at the airport?
- What expenses does each spouse participate in?
- What is your apartment address? What floor do you live on? How many rooms are in the apartment?
- What property is in the apartment? What furniture is in the apartment? Where is the furniture? What are the colors of the curtains? What are the colors of the bedding?
- Do you have pets? If so, who and what are their names?
- What gifts have you bought for each other?
- What events have you attended together?
- What do you do on the weekends?
- What did you do yesterday? (what time they woke up, what they did, what they ate)
- What is their favorite food? What is their least favorite food?
- What is the role of everyone in the house? (who cooks, cleans, washes, does the shopping)
- Working hours of the spouse? What do they like to do? What is their education/ work?
- Where do they shop?
- Does the spouse shave? Do they wear perfume?
- What is the spouse’s bank and HMO (kupat kholim)?
- Do they use a credit card? Is there a joint account?
- How much does the spouse earn? Does the foreign spouse work?
- How do you pay for the rent? (credit/cash/the landlord comes to collect)
- Drinking habits? (coffee/tea/sugar)
- How did you get to the hearing at the Ministry of the Interior?
- When did you get up on the day of the hearing?
- Which side of the bed do you sleep on?
- Common goals for the future? (house/car/travel)
- Do you celebrate New Year’s Eve? How?
- Do you go to a hairdresser? Is there a regular look?
What are contradictions in the interview? How do you avoid them?
Within each interview, the Ministry of Interior clerks check for contradictions to determine if the couple should be rejected for status in Israel. Unfortunately, the MoI determines about 10% of joint-life applications between Israeli and foreign citizens to be false. To avoid granting citizenship to false couples, officials look for contradictions in the interviews that can be objectively proven. Substantive questions are ones that ask about the couple’s joint-life together; each spouse is expected to give the same answers to questions concerning where their first date was, where they ate yesterday, etc.
If there are many mistakes or guesses for answers, the Israeli MoI officials may assume that the relationship is not real. Moreover, any differing answers about the relationship is also considered suspicious and can lead to problems with granting citizenship (mainly questions about money). Ultimately, however, Interior Ministry officials are not looking to entrap partners. Most questions should be easy to answer for couples who are living together in the same household.
Contact us for more information
If assistance is needed regarding this topic, our law firm is here to help. With specialization in immigration law, our lawyers are capable of guiding the entire gradual process. Working to obtain legal status for foreign spouses in Israel can be complicated; however with our help you will be able to reach success. Feel free to contact our offices.