Many Israeli citizens are unaware to their right to settle the status of their foreign spouses – whether they are married or not. As part of this, the foreign spouse may obtain inter alia a work visa, provision of a temporary Israeli identity card etc., aiming to enable them to live together in Israel.
In this context, the procedures of the Ministry of Interior prescribe, that the spouses are required to prove the sincerity of the relationship between the spouses and its continuity, as well as to comply with an examination of a shared life center within the country’s boundaries.
The procedure of settling the status of foreign spouses in Israel who live together without marrying each other (and therefore it also applies to cases of same-sex marriages), involves several steps and it may take several months from the date of submission of the initial application until obtaining a work visa.
Step 1 – A One-Year Work Visa
Essentially, the procedure of settling a status of (unmarried) spouses, initially requires the submittal of several documents, some of which are required to be verified by an apostille (a stamp which indicates that the documents were granted on behalf of an authority or a certified entity at the country of origin), or by the Israeli consulate at that country, which indicate a shared life center and the sincerity of the relationship. This examination will be conducted once a year, as well as throughout the following steps of the process (unless otherwise indicated).
Additionally, the foreign spouse will be required to hold a foreign passport, which is valid for at least two years. Following these proofs, the spouse will be eligible for a one-year B/1 Visa.
Step 2 – Extending the Validity of the Work Visa
The validity of the work visa is extended upon the conclusion of the first year, by another year, and by three additional years in total. During this time period, the spouse may leave the country and return to it through a multiple-entry visa (each year, on the time of issuance of the work visa, the spouse is also issued with multiple-entry and multiple-exit visas).
Step 3 – A Temporary Resident
Upon the conclusion of this time period, the status of the spouse becomes into a temporary resident for four additional years.
Step 4 – A Permanent Resident
Upon the end of the temporary residency period, the foreign spouse may apply for a permanent resident status. This status entitles the foreign spouse to a permanent identity card; however, it does not enable him to vote in the elections for The Knesset and to obtain an Israeli passport. During this stage as well, the spouses are required to prove the shared life center and the sincerity of the relationship.
Should the spouses fail to pass the examination, the Ministry of Interior may deny their application. In this case, the foreign spouse will be requested to leave Israel within 14-30 days.
Settling the status of a foreign spouse is considered a complex and lengthy process, as well as different procedures in cases of denial of applications for various reasons (missing documents, an unmistakable change of circumstances of the spouses, etc.). Additionally, the various authorities may require actions, documents and materials in accordance with particular cases. Therefore, before initiating the process, and for its optimal management, it is advisable to consult with a professional experienced attorney, who would be able to support the process in the most professional, rapid and convenient manner.
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