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Oleh Immigrant and Returning Minor to Israel


Michael Decker

An Oleh immigrant is someone who possesses Israeli citizenship, but did not make Israel their center of life as an adult. A returning minor generally left Israel with their parents as a minor. A citizen-immigrant was often born abroad and obtained citizenship as the child of an Israeli citizen. Although Israeli Citizens, immigrant-citizens can obtain benefits similar to those enjoyed by new immigrants (Olim), according to the Law of Return, upon returning to Israel, their homeland.

The Ministry of Aliyah and Integration and the Construction and Housing Ministry automatically provide assistance to an Oleh immigrant, However, the citizen-immigrant must first obtain recognition as such from the Interior Ministry. Other bodies who assist immigrants also provide benefits, but a direct application is required.

The law offices of Cohen, Decker, Pex, Brosh specialize in relocation, immigration, and obtaining official status in Israel. Michael Decker, immigration attorney for Israel, will define the status of immigrant citizen and returning minor and explain the rights that accrue to someone with that status.

What is a Citizen immigrant?

Oleh Immigrant/Returning Minor to IsraelA citizen immigrant, according to the Knesset Information and Research Center, is “someone who was born abroad to a parent who was an Israeli citizen, and is entitled to the status of a new immigrant, according to the Law of Return, despite already being an Israeli citizen.”

This status primarily applies to children born abroad to parents who were Israeli citizens. Their parents were given the option to go to the nearest Israeli embassy or consulate within 30 days of the child’s birth, and request that the child be registered as a citizen. Section 4 of the Citizenship Law states that children born to Israeli citizens are also citizens from the day of they are born, whether in Israel or abroad.

However, it is not always clear who a child’s parents are. This is particularly the case regarding the identity of the father when the parents were unmarried or only married for a short time before the child’s birth.

Accordingly, if the mother is an Israeli citizen and she applies to the consulate within 30 days of the child’s birth, there is generally no problem with registering the child as an Israeli citizen. If only the father is an Israeli citizen, he will be required to present proof of his relationship / marriage to the foreign citizen. If the father does not register the child as an Israeli within 30 days of birth, or does not succeed in convincing the consular agents that the child is his (for example, if he was not married to the mother for a full year before the birth), he will often be requested to undergo a paternity test  to prove his paternity and the child’s resultant eligibility for Israeli citizenship.

Who is a returning minor?

Someone who obtained Israeli citizenship (either after immigrating together with his parents or as the child of an Israeli citizen), and left Israel (usually due to moving abroad with their parents) before the age of 14, and returned to Israel after the age of 17. During the time between leaving Israel and returning as a returning minor, the minor had to have lived abroad for at least 4 consecutive years (for a minimum of 8 months a year).

A returning minor must be a former citizen and resident of Israel, who would have been eligible for immigration according to the law of return if he or she had not been a citizen.

Staying in Israel and eligibility for the status of citizen immigrant or returning minor

As stated above, if a returning minor or citizen immigrant returns to stay in Israel permanently without applying for a special status, the right to benefits as a returning minor or Oleh immigrant expires after a few years. However, there are a variety of circumstances under which it is possible to remain in Israel without renouncing the right to obtain the status of an immigrant, with its associated state assistance, in the future.

  • Remaining in Israel for less than 4 months in a calendar year.
  • Service in the Israel Defense Forces.
  • Remaining in Israel for a few months immediately before and after serving in the army.
  • Studying for a year or less in a recognized Israeli educational institution.
  • Studying or remaining in Israel as part of the Masa program and a number of other programs for youth with rights of return.

How does one obtain rights as an immigrant after returning to Israel?

To obtain this status, the applicant must obtain rights as an immigrant to Israel and arrange their status with the IDF – either undertake mandatory army service or obtain an exemption based on the fact that the center of their life was abroad during the years they should have served in the army. They must present an Israeli I.D. card, passport, and documents proving their continuous residence abroad.

Any parent who comes to Israel with children must arrange citizenship and passports for the children. If the spouse / other parent with joint custody remains abroad, the absent parent’s agreement is required to bring the children into Israel / obtain immigrant status for the children.

After obtaining the status at the Interior Ministry (and registering at the nearest Population Authority office), the parents are advised to turn to the Immigration and Absorption Authority for explanations and assistance. Parents will need to present the details of the bank account into which the financial aid will be deposited.

The Immigration and Absorption Ministry will automatically pass on some of the applicant’s documents to other official bodies (such as the National Insurance Institute), but nevertheless it is advisable to check with each authority (tax authority, Building and Housing Ministry, municipal tax payments, academic institutions) regarding benefits accruing to new immigrants.

Who is not eligible for the status of returning minor or Oleh immigrant?

Children of emissaries – someone who left Israel with their family when their parents were representing the State of Israel or its institutions abroad.

Someone who received assistance as a new immigrant in the past.

Someone who stayed in Israel for a few years, continuously, before applying for immigrant status. 3 years and more – only partial benefits. After 5 years – no eligibility for benefits.

What about a returning resident?

The State of Israel encourages the return of “yordim” – Israeli citizens who have relocated to other countries / who have been residing permanently in other countries for several years. Accordingly, the government grants them benefits on their return. In certain ways the situation of a returning resident is similar to that of a citizen immigrant, but there are also some important differences.

Make an appointment with an attorney to discuss obtaining the status of citizen immigrant

Having difficulties with the Interior Ministry? Is the bureaucracy is holding up your status or you are not getting your legal rights? The lawyers at the offices of Cohen, Decker, Pex, Brosh have extensive experience in Israeli law regarding permits and status. Contact an immigration attorney in Jerusalem or Petach Tikvah for advice and assistance.

Oleh immigrant

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