Skip to content
Contact Us: 03-3724722 | 055-9781688 | [email protected]

Making aliyah without your family (legal information)

Michael Decker
Michael Decker

Matthias Oppliger

I have been receiving services from this Law Firm for several years now and I want to say THANK YOU to the team, especially Joshua Pex. They are doing outstanding work. The services I have received for both our Israeli non profit association but also our social business have helped us solve many issues at hand and provided solutions in complicated situations. Personally, I am grateful for support in visa issues as a foreigner living now in Israel for many years.

Immigrants are often forced to immigrate to Israel in a “split aliyah” — leaving their families or spouses behind. Although the olim (new immigrants to Israel) themselves are entitled to their personal rights in these cases, various legal issues may arise which can make it difficult to bring joint children or single elderly parents to Israel. Below is an explanation of this important and topical issue by attorney Michael Decker, a partner in our firm and expert in Israeli immigration law.

Split aliyah – what can be done in the complex case where you must immigrate without your family or spouse?

The Law of Return grants all Jews the right to make aliyah, including their children and grandchildren. The right to make aliyah includes the right to immigrate to Israel and obtain Israeli citizenship according to the Citizenship Law. Olim are entitled to a variety of rights and benefits from the National Insurance Institute and the various state authorities. In addition, those who are entitled to immigrate to Israel are generally entitled to bring their family along too (spouses and children).

Split aliyah

This general right sounds simple on paper, however, in practice this subject can raise various complex legal issues. For example, various questions have recently been raised, among immigrants under the Law of Return coming from Ukraine or Russia, regarding situations in which one of the spouses is required to remain in their home country, due to an obligation to serve in the military in the war taking place there at the time of writing, or in order to take care of other family members who cannot immigrate. In this complex situation, a split aliyah may be necessary, with one spouse or the family being left behind (in cases where it is decided that the children will not make aliyah at this stage). This also raises the question of the olim’s ability to bring their elderly parents, who were left alone when their children moved to Israel. Below we explain the possible legal actions in these cases.

It is important to note that foreign spouses of Israeli citizens and residents, as opposed to spouses of immigrants making aliyah from abroad, must obtain legal status in Israel by a procedure unrelated to aliyah, given that, as a rule, the Law of Return does not apply in such situations. Instead, they must undergo a process to obtain the status of permanent residents or citizens.

Immigrating to Israel without your spouse or part of your family – what is the required process in these cases?

Naturally, it is easier for immigrants to come to Israel together with their foreign spouses and children, both logistically and legally. This way the entire family can immediately begin the process of immigrating and settling in Israel, while simultaneously working to obtain legal status in Israel for the foreign spouse and any children who are minors. Immigrants who make aliyah without their spouses will be required to handle obtaining legal status for them at a later stage. Regarding spouses of people eligible to make aliyah who arrive in Israel on their own, it is important to note that according to their eligibility for the Right of Return and relevant regulations established by the Population and Immigration Authority, they will generally be eligible to be granted the status of an oleh in Israel. In both cases, however, various bureaucratic obstacles may arise throughout the process. In order to complete the application process optimally, we recommend seeking legal assistance from an attorney specializing in Israeli immigration law.

As a rule, it is advisable to arrange an aliyah visa before your spouse’s arrival in Israel (whether they are eligible for aliyah themselves or only you are). If you are unable to do so, you can go to the “Nativ” offices at Ben Gurion Airport, to arrange the visa for them. Applications for immigrant/permanent resident status in Israel can be submitted at the Population and Immigration Authority office closest to your place of residence. To apply, you must go to the office in-person. In addition, you must present a foreign passport valid for at least one year from the date of application, as well as the following documents: application form for immigrant/permanent resident status in Israel; application form for an identity card; and 3 recent passport photos (one photo will be used in the application for immigrant status and the others will be used in the application for an identity card).

Along with these documents, you must attach original, authenticated and translated (if required) documents to prove your spouse is Jewish and/or eligible for the Right of Return. If the certificates are written in a language that the official handling the application can read and understand, there will be no need for translation, except when it comes to documents with large amounts of text and court rulings. Also, the spouse’s birth certificate must be presented. If it is not the original birth certificate, it must be authenticated. If the applicant’s first or last name has been changed, a public certificate attesting to the name change must be presented. A recent public certificate from the applicant’s country of origin, indicating their current and previous personal status, must also be presented. Likewise, a current certificate of good conduct (indicating the absence of a criminal record) from the country of origin is also required. Applications are processed by the Population and Immigration Authority, which may request additional documents or details.

Regarding making aliyah with children from a second marriage, here too difficulties may arise. This is mainly due to the need to obtain permission from the other biological parent for minor children to immigrate to Israel. If the minors are over the age of 15, it is possible that in the case of split aliyah, the parents will be required to present evidence that their children have been in their legal custody for the two years preceding the date of application to immigrate with their children to Israel. Here too, pre-emptively seeking assistance from an attorney specializing in Israeli immigration law can help ensure the completion of all the necessary actions for the arrival of you and your children and prevent delays and inconveniences along the way.

Difficulty in bringing a single elderly parent

Another situation in which legal difficulties may arise is the case in which one spouse makes aliyah alone while the other spouse remains abroad with a single elderly parent whom they want to bring to Israel as well. The solution here is temporary status in Israel (which can be extended from time to time) for Israeli citizens’ parents who do not have other close family members abroad. In many cases, the procedure for bringing parents to Israel and obtaining legal status for them may be quite complicated. The officials at the Interior Ministry may raise various bureaucratic obstacles here as well. In these cases, there can be several reasons why an application to bring parents to Israel might be rejected. For instance, the authorities could argue that the spouse who stayed behind can take of the parent, and therefore there is no need to bring them to Israel. Alternatively, they could argue that the fact that one spouse immigrated to Israel alone indicates that that spouse’s life is not centered in Israel, which is a mandatory condition for applications for legal status in Israel to be approved. Due to these and other potential difficulties, we recommend using the services of an attorney specializing in Israeli immigration law, who is experienced in handling applications to obtain legal status for an elderly parent in Israel.

Immigrating to Israel without your family – contact an attorney specializing in Israeli immigration law

In this article, we explained cases in which individuals entitled to the Right of Return are forced to make aliyah without their family, or without their spouses, and the various legal obstacles that may arise in these cases. If you have specific questions or need advice or assistance on these issues, contact us — we will be happy to help. Attorneys in our firm, with offices located in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, specialize in Israeli immigration law and in assisting foreign citizens (whether they are eligible for the Right of Return or not) in immigration processes and obtaining legal status in Israel, as well as representing them before all the authorities and levels of courts.

Contact Us

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Scroll To Top