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Arranging the Legal Status of the Minor Foreign Children of Spouses of Israelis

Anat Levi
Anat Levi

Greg Olson

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How do minor foreign children who come to Israel with their parents obtain Israeli legal status? Many Israelis enter a relationship with a foreign citizen who has children from a previous marriage. When these Israelis go to the Ministry of Interior offices to arrange the legal status of their foreign spouse in Israel, the question arises as to what may be done to obtain status for foreign minor children so that they will be allowed live in Israel with their parent.

Our law firm specializes in Aliyah and immigration to Israel with foreign family members (children, parents, and spouses). In this article, Lawyer Anat Levi explains how to arrange the legal status of foreign minor children as part of their parent’s procedure for obtaining legal status, when the parent is married to an Israeli citizen or resident.

status for foreign minor children

Arranging the Legal Status of Foreign Minor Children in Israel at the Ministry of Interior

Spouses who wish to establish a family together in Israel must submit a request to arrange the legal status of the foreign spouse. This request must be submitted at the Israeli spouse’s local Population and Immigration Authority office. The complex procedure for obtaining legal status is supervised by the Ministry of Interior via the Population and Immigration Authority.

It is not easy to arrange the legal status of a foreign citizen who wishes to live with their Israeli spouse, whether they are formally married or in a common-law marriage.

Arranging the legal status of the child of a foreign spouse from a previous marriage is even more difficult, both materially and procedurally, and special criteria have been established by the Ministry of Interior for arranging the legal status of minor children. Be aware that the minor children of a foreign spouse may only receive legal status if their parent is married to the Israeli spouse. There is no procedure for arranging the legal status of minor children whose parent is in a romantic relationship with an Israeli citizen or resident but not married to them.

The Normative Route: The Israeli Citizenship Law – Legal Status of Foreign Spouses of Israelis

The procedure for requesting legal status for the foreign spouse of an Israeli follows a detailed protocol stipulated by the Population and Immigration Authority,  numbered 5.2.0008, which sets clear criteria for conducting the procedure. The manner in which the request is handled is determined in Section 7 of the Citizenship Law, 5712—1952, as follows:

Naturalisation of husband and wife (Amendment No. 4), 5740—1980

  1. The spouse of a person who is an Israel national or who has applied for Israel nationality and meets or is exempt from the requirements of section 5 (a) may obtain Israel nationality by naturalisation even if she or he is a minor or does not meet the requirements of section (5) (a).

The status of the foreign minor children of foreign citizens is determined in Section 1 of the Entry into Israel Law, 5712—1952, as follows:

“The entry of a person, other than an Israel national or an oleh under the Law of Return (5710-1950), into Israel shall be by visa, and his residence in Israel shall be by permit of residence, under this Law.”

How to Arrange the Legal Status of Foreign Minor Children in Israel

Section 7 of the Citizenship Law (also known as the Nationality Law) is intended to enable the naturalization of the foreign wife of an Israeli citizen. This naturalization is made possible so that the family unit may remain intact and the couple may continue living together in Israel as a family along with their children.

However, the right of citizens to a family life is not absolute. The foreign spouse is not automatically eligible to Israeli citizenship by virtue of being married to an Israeli citizen; rather, they must follow the graduated procedure, which takes about six years. During this period, Ministry of Interior officials examine, via yearly interviews and other methods, whether or not the applicant’s center of life is in Israel with their Israeli spouse and whether the marriage is genuine and lawful.

status for foreign minor children

When minor children from a previous marriage are brought by their parent for the purpose of obtaining legal status, the rules are different depending on whether the children are aged below or above 15 years.

Minor children below 15 years of age: For children who are younger than 15, the approval of the child’s second biological parent in Israel or abroad is required regarding the child’s immigration to Israel or naturalization there, as explained below.

Minor children above 15 years of age: For children who are older than 15, the Ministry of Interior requires—in addition to all the other criteria—legal approval (a divorce ruling or agreement), as well as concrete evidence proving that the minor child has been at least two years in the custody of the parent residing in Israel.

Approval of the Second Biological Parent from Abroad Regarding the Child’s Immigration to Israel

It is very important to attach the approval of the other parent regarding the child’s permanent residence and naturalization in Israel when submitting the legal-status application. A situation in which the second parent opposes the minor child’s immigration to Israel and naturalization there may create problems in obtaining legal status for the child.

If the parent making the application claims that they are unable to obtain the second parent’s opinion on the matter, the Ministry of Interior will send a letter to the second parent’s address abroad, requesting their approval, via the Israeli consulate.

If the minor child’s second parent is dead, an authenticated translation of the death certificate must be attached.

Alternatively, if the foreign spouse applying for legal status has exclusive custody of the child, they must attach a ruling stipulating their sole or exclusive guardianship. The ruling must first be lawfully authenticated and translated by a notary public regarding custody.

The original copy of the minor child’s birth certificate must also be attached to the request. The birth certificate must be authenticated and, if necessary, also translated.

Summary — Obtaining Israeli Legal Status for the Minor Child of a Foreign Citizen

If you follow the law and the Ministry of Interior’s regulations for officially submitting an application as required; and if the Israeli and foreign spouse meet the criteria and prove that their marriage is genuine and lawful, and the invited foreign spouse receives a permit of residence in Israel—there will be no problem to include the foreign spouse’s minor children in the application, and the children will receive the same legal status as their parent.

Contact the Lawyers at Our Firm, Who Specialize in Immigration to Israel

We specialize in immigration and family law in Israel. Contact us to schedule a meeting with a lawyer from our offices in Tel Aviv or Jerusalem and get advice and legal assistance regarding the immigration of minor children and family members to Israel.

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