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Legal Precedents that Will Help You Arrange the Israeli Legal Status of a Foreign Spouse

Joshua Pex

Alexander P Gutterman

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Israeli courts and appeals tribunals intervene in many cases of foreign spouses who wish to arrange their legal status in Israel when the law or Interior Ministry regulations are unclear. In this article, lawyer Joshua Pex, who specializes in immigration to Israel, discusses several main legal precedents that you should know about regarding immigration of foreign spouses to Israel.

Our law firm, which has branches is Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, specializes in immigration to Israel. The extensive experience that our lawyers have accumulated in handling applications of foreign spouses for legal status in Israel enables us to provide our clients with a comprehensive professional legal solution.

status of foreign spouses in Israel

General Explanation: Arranging the Legal Status of Foreign Spouses in Israel

When Israelis are interested in living with a foreign spouse in Israel, they must appeal for legal status for their spouse. The law provides only a partial solution to the legal issues that arise in this area. The courts have determined complementary rules and tests for the purpose of examining these issues. Below we review several precedential rules that were stipulated by the courts and explain how these rules may aid legal status procedures.

HCJ 3648/97, Stamka v. Minister of the Interior – On Requiring the Foreign Spouse to Leave the Country

This ruling is considered one of the most important in the area of immigration to Israel, after which the Ministry of Interior updated its regulations on arranging the legal status of foreign spouses. One of the most important stipulations in the ruling is that foreign spouses shall not in every case be required to leave Israel until the sincerity of their relationship is verified (as was the custom until then). The Ministry of Interior must now hear the foreign spouse in Israel, and allow them to prove their romantic relationship.

Yael Eisenberg Ruling – Eased Requirements for Submitting Documents

The Ministry of Interior requires the spouses to present various documents for the purpose of arranging the foreign spouse’s legal status. What happens when the spouse is unable to return to their country of origin and obtain the required documents? In this judgment on an appeal by an Israeli woman and her spouse (a Sudani asylum seeker living in Israel) against the denial of their application for Israeli legal status, the court ruled that the sincerity of the relationship shall be the main determining factor in legal status procedures for foreign spouses. In extreme cases, this factor may even prevail over the requirement to present the required documents.

HCJ 5075-15, Gay Dads Association v. The Minister of Interior

Arranging the legal status of same-sex spouses, even if they are married, follows the regulations for couples in a common-law marriage. In an appeal by the Association of Israeli Gay Fathers (also known as the Gay Dads Association), it was argued that the requirement to follow the common-law-marriage regulations is discriminatory, since it makes the procedure for arranging legal status much longer compared to the procedure that is required from formally married couples. The solution that was reached was that, in the case of same-sex couples who are married, the procedure for arranging legal status will be no longer than the procedure for formally married couples.

HCJ 876/07, Nihad Kasey v. the Interior Ministry – A Criminal Record Preventing Legal Status in Israel

In this judgment, the court determined what should be taken into consideration when examining legal-status applications of couples who are prevented from legally living together due to the criminal history of the foreign spouse. The considerations are the severity of the offense, the number of offenses of which they were convicted, how long ago the offenses took place, the circumstances of the offense, and the foreign spouse’s rehabilitation process. For example, if the offense was not very severe and the foreign spouse has already completed rehabilitation, this might be a decisive consideration in disregarding the criminal history and allowing the couple to live together in Israel.

Discrepancies in the Relationship-Sincerity Interview

The Ministry of Interior interviews the spouses and tries to find contradictions that show that the relationship is not genuine. In the Olga Trikolitz ruling, the court emphasized the importance of thoroughly examining each couple’s request and not rushing to conclude that the relationship is insincere due to discrepancies in the interview. In another case, a couple appealed a decision to deny legal status due to age differences and due to the Interior Ministry’s impression that the relationship was insincere, based on the interview. The court ruled that the responses in the interview were subject to differing interpretations, and that the decision to deny legal status was unreasonable and disproportionate.

Contact Our Experts on Immigration to Israel

Israeli spouses who are married to, or in a romantic relationship with, foreign citizens should know that the Interior Ministry’s decisions regarding legal-status requests in Israel are subject to judicial review by the relevant courts. Therefore, it is important that you seek legal assistance and ensure that your rights are respected throughout the procedure. The lawyers at our firm have extensive experience in the area of immigration to Israel, particularly in regard to arranging the legal status of foreign spouses of Israelis. If you have any questions or need assistance, you are welcome to contact us and we will be happy to be at your service.

status of foreign spouses in Israel

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