Kan-Tor & Acco is a leading immigration law firm, with more than 25 years’ experience in the fields of business and family based immigration to Israel. The firm works with all the Ministries of Interior throughout Israel in the citizenship and work visa processes.
Advocate Daniel Aspiro, Head of the Private Clientele Department, leads the firm’s Citizenship Law team, provides responses to the following commonly asked questions:
Q. How can a non-Jewish individual married to an Israeli spouse obtain Israeli citizenship?
A. The non-Jewish spouse of an Israeli citizen can be granted citizenship through the “Step By Step” process.
The Step By Step process is designed to test the truthfulness and sincerity of the relationship between the couple. The application can be submitted to the Israeli Consulate or the Ministry of Interior at the residence of the Israeli citizen. The procedure involves several steps. The length of the process is about 4.5 years for a married couple, and about 7 years for civil union couple. After the first stage, the foreign citizen will receive the status of a temporary resident, which includes the issuance of a general work permit, identity card, membership in a health fund, etc. At the end of the process, the non-Israeli spouse will be able to obtain the status of a citizen or permanent resident of Israel.
Q. What are the eligibility requirements for a Jewish individual to obtain Israeli citizenship?
A. Every Jew is entitled to become a citizen of Israel by making Aliyah (Immigration) to Israel. This right is also extended to immediate relatives of the Jewish immigrant, including the spouse, the children and their spouses, as well as the grandchildren and their spouses, provided that the Jewish individual did not willingly practice a religion other than Judaism.
Additionally, a Jewish individual that was born abroad to an Israeli parent may be an Israeli citizen from birth, regardless of whether he or she has been to Israel.
Q. Is the child of an Israeli citizen born abroad entitled to register as an Israeli national without having been to Israel?
A. Yes. An individual that was born abroad to an Israeli parent is an Israeli citizen by birth, regardless of whether they visited Israel.
An individual that was born abroad to an Israeli parent who was not born in Israel may become an Israeli citizen by making an Aliyah.
Every Israeli citizen who has had a child abroad must notify the Registration Clerk and register the child. Failure to give notice of the overseas birth of the child is a breach of law.
Q. How do you register a child of an Israeli citizen born abroad?
A. When the mother is an Israeli, the child will be recognized as an Israeli, subject to proof of parentage. When the father is Israeli and the mother is not, but the couple is married according to local law, the Israeli father will have to present additional evidence, such as a marriage certificate, birth certificate and other documents proving the relationship between the couple.
In the case of an Israeli father where the couple is not married or living together, the father will be required to petition the Israeli Family Court in order to receive a ruling. The Court will determine if the father must provide evidence of paternity, including a DNA test, in order to register the child as an Israeli citizen at the Ministry of Interior.
The Ministry of Interior in Israel may request for proof of paternity even from a legally married couple.
Q. What is the procedure for obtaining Israeli citizenship for a married couple, when one of the spouses is an Israeli citizen, who has been abroad for at least two consecutive years before returning to Israel, and the other is eligible under the Law of Return?
A. The Israeli citizen spouse who has been abroad for at least two consecutive years is entitled to submit an application for “Returning Resident” status to the Israeli Consulate or the Ministry of the Interior, in accordance with the most recent or proposed residential address in Israel.
- An Israeli national meeting the requirements of a “Returning Scientist” or “Business Entrepreneur” is eligible to submit an application for “Returning Resident” status following residence abroad of at least five years.
•Note: An Israeli citizen meeting the requirements of a returning resident may have children who meet the definition of a returning minor, or spouse who meets the requirements of an immigrant visa. The spouse of a returning resident is entitled to submit an application for Aliyah with supporting documentation.
Q. Is an Israeli national who has waived his/her citizenship, entitled to re-register as an Israeli citizen?
A. Yes. A former Israeli citizen is entitled to re-apply for citizenship. The applicant must include an official document confirming the prior waiver of Israeli citizenship.
Q. Is it possible for Jewish and non-Jewish individuals to hold Israeli citizenship along with the citizenship of other countries?
A. Yes. Israeli law does not require the renunciation of other citizenships, nor does it limit the number of citizenships. It is recommended to check whether the other countries allow dual and triple citizenship.
Q. Is military service a requirement for eligibility for Jewish and non-Jewish individuals to obtain Israeli citizenship?
A. No. Military service is not required in order to receive or retain Israeli citizenship for Jewish or non-Jewish individuals, qualified under the Law of Return. This applies for same-gender spouses as well.
Q. Where can applications for citizenship be submitted?
A. Any application can be submitted at the Israeli Consulate at the current location of the Israeli citizen or at the Ministry of Interior at the current Israeli residence of the Israeli citizen.
• The above applies to same-gender spouses.
• Each application mentioned above has a different set of required documentation.
Kan-Tor& Acco has vast experience in providing assistance pertaining to visas based on Judaism and Israeli Citizenship.