Spousal Visa to Israel through Marriage to a Permanent Resident
This article describes the rights granted to spouses of permanent residents of Israel under The Citizenship Act, allowing them to obtain permanent status in Israel during the course of a five year gradual process. Details about the rights of minors accompanying the foreign spouse are also provided. It should be noted that marriage to a permanent resident of Israel does not guarantee that the foreign spouse will obtain legal status in Israel since the spousal visa (also known as a “friendship visa”) to Israel is based on the ongoing relationship between the foreign national and the Israeli permanent resident.
NOTE: This article does not apply to foreign spouses residing in Judea, Samaria and Gaza.
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Who Can Use This Service?
Foreign spouses of permanent residents of Israel residing in Israel or abroad, provided they do not reside in Judea, Samaria and Gaza.
If the foreign spouse resides in Israel the request should be made in Israel at the Population Authority’s regional bureau closest to their domicile. If both partners reside abroad the foreign spouse must submit the request before their arrival to Israel at the Israeli consulate closest to their domicile.
During the evaluation process the spouse shall be granted a temporary residence and work permit with a six-month validity. While the evaluation is conducted, 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 five years. At the end of this process, they will be eligible to request a permanent status.
A foreign citizen who obtained their status fraudulently or whose status has been revoked is not eligible to receive permanent status. At most, they are eligible to receive an A/5 temporary residence permit.
A foreign citizen requesting status according to a different procedure shall be required to choose one procedure over the other and the non-chosen request shall be disregarded.
If it is found that the procedure is not adhered to or that incomplete information has been provided, the Authority is permitted to revoke any previously granted permit.
What Do I Need to Do Before Submitting a Request?
Before submitting the request for a Friendship Visa, one must ensure that:
- The applicants must be physically present. Physical presence is mandatory. If the spouses reside in Israel, both are required to be present at the Authority’s 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 physically present at the Israeli consulate closest to their domicile.
- The applicants must prepare 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.
- The appropriate original, authenticated and translated documentation regarding the foreign spouse:
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 (also required for minors over the age of 16).
- Proof of a common center of life in Israel: This consists of any indication on the genuineness of the relationship and the existence of a common center of life, namely rental contracts, common bank accounts, letters from friends and family members (to each such letter, please affix a copy of the identity card of the friend), etc.
- An affidavit prepared by both spouses: In this document they need to declare the authenticity of the documentation and commit to inform the authorities of any change in their circumstances.
- 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.
Fees for the Spousal Visa to Israel
The charges for the service are listed in the Authority’s fee schedule.
How to Submit the Request
The request is to be made at the Population Authority’s bureau 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
- At the time the request is submitted, a Population Authority employee 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 permanent resident spouse will be updated accordingly.
- If the foreign spouse does not have a valid travel document, they shall be asked to obtain a valid travel document from their country’s local consulate.
- 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.
- If all the threshold documents are in order, the foreign spouse will be given a B/1 residence permit that is valid for six months. If the permit cannot be granted due to existing restrictions, the request shall be forwarded to Bureau’s Visa Center for further evaluation. This period shall not be considered as part of the progressive process.
- If there are missing documents, the couple shall receive a detailed list of what is still required, and these documents shall be 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 to be considered by the bureau manager. If the documents are submitted after the due date, the couple shall be required to re-issue their request, and this request will be accepted on the condition that all missing documents were submitted.
- If the foreign spouse holds a valid residence permit, this permit shall be extended until the evaluation of this request is complete. If they do not, the foreign spouse shall not be deported until the evaluation of this request is complete.
- If the foreign spouse holds a valid residence permit (B/1 or A/5) on account of a progressive process conducted on a marital relationship that has dissolved, said permit shall be revoked; they shall be issued a new B/1 permit and shall be required to undergo a new progressive process.
After the Request Is Received
- Before approving or rejecting the request, the Population Authority shall perform a thorough evaluation. 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.
- 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.
- If the permanent resident serves the state of Israel abroad, and accordingly the couple resides outside of Israel for prolonged time periods, the center of life shall be evaluated according to these circumstances.
- If the marriage certificate is deemed invalid, the request shall be denied. Marriage certificates originating in El Salvador shall be evaluated according to a special procedure.
- 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 asked to depart from Israel within 30 days (14 days if they are illegally staying in Israel).
- If the request has been approved, the couple shall be asked to return to the Population Authority’s bureau where they will receive a 15-month B/1 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. Unless more time is needed by the security authorities, a decision regarding extending an invitation to the spouse will be given within 45 days. If more than 45 days are required, a written notice indicating this shall be sent to the permanent resident 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 permanent resident’s interview shall take place in Israel, and the foreign spouse shall be interviewed in the appropriate Israeli consulate.
Upon approval of the request, a written notice indicating this shall be sent to the permanent resident. A foreign spouse who resides in countries exempt from pre-arranging a visa shall present the notice to the border control personnel upon arrival to Israel. If the foreign spouse resides in a country requiring pre-arranged visas, the appropriate visa shall be sent to the Israeli consulate of this country. This visa is only valid for 30 days. Accordingly, the couple must go to the Authority’s bureau within 30 days of the arrival of the foreign spouse to Israel, and they will continue the process 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. The request shall be evaluated by the consul who may deny this on the grounds of insufficient proof for the genuineness of the relationship. Alternatively, 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 of 30,000 NIS.
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 go to the Authority’s bureau within 30 days of the arrival of the foreign spouse to Israel, and they will continue the process there.
The Progressive Process
Upon approval of the request, the foreign spouse (and any accompanying minors) will be granted a B/1 residence permit valid for 15 months, to be renewed yearly. After 27 months with a B/1 permit, a one-year A/5 temporary residence permit shall be issued. 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 three 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 will be granted.
If the relationship has terminated or if the Israeli spouse is deceased, the progressive process will be terminated.
Ending the Process
No later than three months before the end of the progressive process, the foreign spouse must notify the Authority’s bureau regarding their wish to become a permanent resident. This notification requires the physical 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.
Upon approval of the request, the spouse shall sign the required affidavits and the foreign spouse shall be issued a new identity card with an addendum indicating the permanent status. Accompanying minors shall be granted the same status as their parents.
Upon denial of the request, a detailed written explanation shall be sent to the applicants explaining the possibility of an appeal.
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