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Arranging Israeli legal status for a spouse requesting asylum

Michael Decker
Michael Decker

How to file a joint life application for an asylum seeker who enters a relationship with an Israeli partner? In this article, an expert immigration attorney explains the relevant regulations; the unique rules regarding asylum seekers; and the possibilities of appeal in cases where the authorities refuse to grant legal status for asylum seeker spouse.

If you have questions or need legal assistance in obtaining legal status for a spouse who is an asylum seeker in Israel, our law offices specialize in immigration law. Among other areas, our office has extensive experience in obtaining legal status for foreign spouses, including asylum seekers. We have represented many clients entitled to Israeli legal status under the Refugees Pact before the Population Authority of the Interior Ministry and all the administrative and judiciary courts.

Statistics on refugees in Israel and their legal status

 status for asylum seeker spouse

Data shows that over 30,000 asylum seekers live in Israel at present. Most come from Sudan and Eritrea, both dictatorial countries with ongoing human rights violations. Their status in Israel is arranged in an extremely complex fashion. For example, the residence visa given to many of them does not permit them to work.(For more information on obtaining Israeli legal status for asylum seekers under the Interior Ministry regulations, see this article).

Despite their lack of work permits, someone who employs an asylum seeker will likely not be fined. For information on when it is possible to hire asylum seekers without fear of enforcement and fines, see this article.

Many asylum seekers living in Israel face significant difficulties, including a protracted process to prove to the authorities their claim of persecution in their country of origin. For more information on the process of applying for asylum seeker status in Israel, see this article on our website. Even so, some manage to assimilate into the community, find work, and develop a normal life. Some even form romantic relationships with Israelis during their time in the country. The question then arises; what happens when an Israeli and an asylum seeker want to arrange their joint life and obtain citizenship for the foreign partner.

Regulations regarding obtaining legal status for foreigners in the process of requesting asylum

Obtaining legal status for an asylum seeker spouse is indeed possible. It falls under the jurisdiction of the Population and Immigration Authority of the Interior Ministry. Both the regulations for married couples and the regulations for common-law couples may apply. Note; given the existence of additional regulations regarding the status of asylum seekers, the Population and Immigration Authority ruled that such processes can be carried out under the relevant regulations, in parallel to the process of arranging the couple’s joint life.

A common problem for asylum seekers seeking legal status in Israel is the difficulty in obtaining the documents relevant to the process. In most cases the refugees arrived alone, without any documents from their country of origin. As such, they face a real difficulty in obtaining confirming documents. The Interior Ministry is aware of this difficulty, and the regulations show flexibility regarding the requirements to produce documents. Thus, for example, a refugee’s stay in Israel can be extended for that purpose, or he can be given a visa that allows him to leave Israel and then return, in order to obtain the documents. It is even possible to request an exemption from producing them.

Filing a joint-life application – what if it is rejected?

If the application is accepted and the required documents are presented, the process of the joint-life application continues. In this framework, the asylum seeker’s center of life is evaluated, as well as the sincerity of the relationship and professional factors. If the Authority refuses to let the couple advance to the next stage after filing the joint-life application (known as the “gradual process”), they can file an appeal of the Authority’s decision with the court.

In a case brought before the Administrative Affairs Court in Tel Aviv-Yaffo, an Israeli woman and her partner, a refugee from Sudan, appealed the Population and Immigration Authority’s refusal to continue the process of arranging the partner’s permanent legal status without him producing documents. The court accepted the appeal and ruled that the refusal could not stand, in part because of the importance of the right to family life. It was ruled that under the given circumstances, the partner was to be granted a temporary residence visa and to be allowed to go on to the gradual process for arranging permanent legal status.

Contact an expert attorney to arrange legal status in Israel

If you have run into difficulties in dealing with the authorities in arranging legal status for an asylum seeker, we will be happy to assist you. Our law offices in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, specialize in immigration law and are experienced in dealing with the Interior Ministry and the various courts, in anything concerning an asylum seeker spouse seeking legal status in Israel. You can contact us at the telephone numbers or email address listed above.

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