To protect family life and the integrity of the family unit, applicable to foreign citizens as well, the Ministry of Interior has established a “common-law partner procedure” that recognizes the concept of “common-law marriage” as a legitimate status for couples who are not married but nevertheless share a life together as a couple. This procedure allows the foreign national, subject to certain conditions and preliminary inspections, to be granted a status in Israel as the life partner of an Israeli citizen, even if they are not married. This procedure also applies to same-sex partners.
The procedure permits the foreign national partner in a “common-law marriage” to receive the status of a permanent resident after a cumulative period of 7 years. However, the foreign national partner is ineligible to submit a request for citizenship and will not receive the status of an Israeli citizen.
The preliminary procedures for both married and unmarried couples are identical in terms of inspections conducted prior to each stage in the process: testing the sincerity of the couple’s relationship, shared life in Israel, and absence of security risk. The difference between the processes for a married couple and a unmarried couple relates to the length of the process, the different types of visas granted at each stage throughout the process, and the end result (Israeli citizenship v. permanent residence).
While foreign spouses married to Israeli citizens receive temporary resident status after a period of 6 months on average, and receive citizenship after a period of about 4 years. Until recently, common-law partners of Israeli citizens received temporary resident status after a year and permanent residence status after 6 years.
Recently, the Ministry of Interior made the procedure more stringent for foreign national partners and same-sex partners (common-law partners). Under the new procedure, common-law partners of Israeli citizens will be forced to wait 3 years before receiving temporary resident status that will provide them with social rights such as bituach leumi and health insurance.