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Last chance to obtain legal status in Israel — Does the right to make Aliyah eventually expire?

Joshua Pex

Paul Prince

The team of lawyers and assistants are incredibly professional. Aiming to give their clients the advice possible regarding the normative and the law of Israel. With well trained and professional secretary at the front desk to the lawyers team, I could say that I had one of the most professional services possible. I'm super glad of choosing Joshua Pex of Law office for immigration solution, lawyers to advise in my case, to me, it is remarkable.

Can a person lose their right to make aliya or obtain legal status in Israel if they wait too long to apply? The short answer is yes, this can indeed happen if the person’s right to legal status depends on family members, and the circumstances change in some way over the years.

Those who can lose the right to Israeli legal status if they wait too long to apply include fourth-generation descendants of Jews, children of an Israeli citizen, and children with a parent married to an Israeli.

Our offices in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem deal with immigration to Israel and specialize in obtaining Israeli legal status under the Law of Return, as well as the Citizenship and Entry into Israel Law. In other words, we have extensive experience in helping immigrants and those eligible for aliya, as well as partners and children of Israeli citizens, to obtain legal status as residents or Israeli citizens.

Unfortunately, often the answer we have to give to people’s inquiries is “We are so sorry to disappoint, but you waited too long to apply. We cannot help you.” In this article, attorney Joshua Pex will explain the circumstances in which people who could have obtained legal status lose that right, and what is important to know in order to avoid this outcome.

Legal status in Israel

Great-grandchildren of Jews – fourth generation

The right to make Aliyah — to immigrate to Israel under to the Law of Return — is given to Jews (children of Jewish mothers), to children of Jews, to grandchildren of Jews, and to partners of Jews and their minor children. Great-grandchildren of Jews (“fourth generation”) are not entitled to make Aliyah. However, as long as the great-grandchildren are minors, they can immigrate to Israel with their parent who is entitled to make Aliyah so as not to divide the nuclear family or prevent the Aliyah of grandchildren of Jews who are parents of minors. A great-grandchild does not get “oleh” status or the corresponding rights in Israel – they live in Israel as temporary residents and can apply for legal status and rights after three years in Israel or at the time of their army service.

If the great-grandchild is adult and independent at the time when one or both of his parents make Aliya, they not considered a minor who is dependent on their parents, and therefore are not given the possibility to immigrate to Israel together with them. The closer the great-grandchild is to age 18 at the time of Aliya, the more complicated the process, with age 19 generally being the “point of no return”.

Children of foreign citizens with an Israeli spouse

When a citizen or resident of Israel is married or in a relationship with a foreign citizen, the foreign partner has the right to obtain Israeli citizenship or residency through a gradual process which can take a number of years. If the Israeli and the foreigner are married, either in Israel or abroad, the partner’s minor children from a previous marriage or relationship can also acquire Israeli citizenship or residency. The “accompanying” minor will get the same status as the partner who is foreign citizen, which changes from a temporary residency visa to the status of residency or citizenship by the end of the process.

It is crucial to get permission from the other biological parent in order for the minor to immigrate to Israel and receive citizenship. If the minors are 15 or older, it is necessary to prove that they are in the custody of (have been living with) the Israeli partner for a period of at least two years.

Children of Israeli citizens

A child of an Israeli citizen or an Israeli resident is automatically entitled to obtain either status. Furthermore, when both parents are Israeli or when the mother alone is Israeli, there is usually no problem registering the child as an Israeli as well.

In cases where an Israeli father has a child with a foreign citizen, he is required to register his child within 30 days of the birth with either the Israeli embassy abroad or with the Population Authority in Israel. If he did so and was married or in a stable relationship with his partner for at least a year prior to his child’s birth, it should not be problematic to register the child as an Israeli in the Israeli Population Registry. Following registry, the child will have legal status in Israel even if he spends all his life abroad. In any case he will get certain benefits if he comes to Israel and can pass on his Israeli citizenship to his children.

On the other hand, if the father did not register his newborn child within 30 days, or if the Ministry of Interior officials doubt whether he is in fact the child’s father, the child may be required to undergo a DNA test in order to prove the paternity. For this, the parents need to obtain an order from the Family Court in order for the child to be eligible to do the test. As soon as this requirement is announced, the paternity must be proven solely by the DNA test and cannot be proven using documents or other proof.

As more time passes following the baby’s birth, getting a court order for tissue testing becomes more complicated. Obtaining approval from the Family Court gets still more complicated when the Israeli’s child becomes an adult. Furthermore, the tissue test used to prove paternity includes three individuals: the father, the mother, and the child. This means that over time the chances increase that one of the parents will not be available (for any reason) to do the test. One of these reasons may be the death of one of the parents. DNA testing on someone who has passed away is possible, but only under rare circumstances when a tissue sample can be obtained from a hospital. Another procedure that is possible but infinitely more complicated is tissue-testing siblings or half siblings who are officially recognized by the State as children of the Israeli father.Legal status in Israel

Parents of lone soldiers

Lone soldiers who are serving in the IDF can invite their parents to come to Israel to acquire legal status even if they are not entitled to it under the Law of Return. Through this process they can obtain permanent Israeli residency and even citizenship. Up until a few years ago, lone soldiers could invite their parents after the end of their military service. Nowadays, this can be done only during the service, and after a soldier completes their IDF service (whether they completed mandatory service, was released early, or was found to be unsuited for service), they can no longer invite his parents to Israel. One of their parents can come to Israel after a few decades as a “lone elderly parent”, provided the other parent is deceased and they have no other children abroad.

Children of grandchildren to individuals considered Righteous among the Nations

Righteous among the nations, as well as their children and grandchildren, can receive a temporary work visa (not citizenship or residency) in Israel. At present there aren’t many of these righteous gentiles or their children who want to work in the Holy Land. However, there are still grandchildren of the righteous that are glad to receive work visas but are concerned about their minor children’s status.

The procedure for granting a work visa for descendants of righteous among the nations does not specify anything about their minor children, and Ministry of Interior officials emphasize that these cases are handled based on the visa-holder’s individual circumstances. However, the minor children will most likely be able to enroll in educational and medical frameworks upon their arrival to Israel. Of course, adult children of grandchildren of the righteous (great-grandchildren of the righteous) are not entitled to come to Israel using their parent’s right and cannot apply for these rights themselves.

Contact an attorney specializing in immigration to Israel

If you fit one of the categories described above and find yourself considering applying for Israeli legal status, you might come to the conclusion that it is better late than never. If that is the case, contact us for assistance in the Aliyah or immigration process.

In case you have learned that you missed your chance to obtain legal status in Israel – contact us to see if there are other ways for you to come to the Holy Land.

Legal status in Israel

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