Obtaining Citizenship in Israel - Israeli Lawyer
How to Become an Israeli Citizen
As the only Jewish-majority state in the world, Israel is naturally a place where many Jews wish to immigrate and become citizens. While Israel welcomes many who wishes to become citizens, it can still be a difficult process to complete. But Israeli law allows for citizenship to be granted through several avenues including naturalization, affiliation (through marriage or descent), and also under the Law of Return. With a little research and hard work, you can learn how to become an Israeli citizen.
Gaining Citizenship in Israel by Birth
Be born in Israel to an Israeli parent.One of the easiest ways to gain Israeli citizenship is by being born in Israel. If one or both of your parents is an Israeli citizen at the time of your birth, you are automatically granted citizenship.
- You can prove that you were born in Israel by providing a legal document like a birth certificate.
- Citizenship will likely be granted when you are born in this case.
Have Israeli citizens as parents.Even if you were not born in Israel, it is possible to become an Israeli citizen by birth if one or both of your parents is also an Israeli citizen.
- Your parents’ Israeli nationality can have been acquired by birth, by naturalization, by residence, or by the Law of Return.
- To prove that your parents were Israeli, you’ll need to go to the Israeli consulate and bring any documentation you have attesting to their Jewish heritage. This can include passports, identification cards, birth certificates (if this info is listed on the document), marriage licenses, letters from Orthodox rabbis, etc.
Be born in Israel with no other nationality.If you were born in Israel and have never been granted any other official nationality, you can acquire Israeli citizenship. To do so, you must apply for it between your 18th and 25th birthdays.
- You must also have been a resident of Israel for at least five consecutive years at the time of your application for citizenship.
- To apply, you’ll need to go to the Israeli consulate. They will be able to give you the appropriate forms. You’ll need to bring an official document (like a birth certificate) proving that you were born in Israel, along with any other identifying documents you have to explain the status of your nationality.
Using the Law of Return
Understand the Law of Return.The Law of Return is a rule enacted by the Israeli government in 1950 that allows all Jews, both ethnic and religious, to return to Israel as their homeland and gain citizenship.
- This law was created largely to create a route to safety for Jews who were misplaced by the Holocaust, and for their descendants.
- A returning Jew is called anoleh(male) orolah(female).
Rely on your Jewish heritage.If you're Jewish, which is defined as being born to a mother who is Jewish or having converted to Judaism, then there is not much that you need to do. Israel will welcome you with open arms. All you have to do is go there and formally request citizenship.
- You can also be considered a Jew according to this law if you converted to Judaism and are not a member of another religion.
- If you converted to Judaism, you’ll need a letter from an Orthodox rabbi that you can bring to the rabbinical court. This group is part of the Israeli justice system and they determine who is considered Jewish or not.
Avoid being considered a threat to the Israeli state.The Israeli government can deny anyone citizenship under the Law of Return who they deem might be a threat to the Israeli population or who might engage in activities intended to harm Jews.
- This caveat is meant as a safeguard for the existing citizens of Israel and to keep people out who mean them harm.
- This means that you should avoid any involvement in extremist groups, especially those who are anti-Semitic. You should also ensure that you have no criminal record and that you aren’t infected with a contagious disease.
Becoming an Israeli Citizen as a Spouse or Descendent
Go to Israel.If you are the descendent of an Israeli citizen or Jew, or if you have married an Israeli citizen, you are able to apply for citizenship if you intend to settle permanently in Israel.
- You must settle in Israel to prove that you want citizenship for the right reasons and not just to gain an Israeli passport.
- There is no time limit here on residency here. You just need to show proof that you are settling in Israel permanently. This kind of proof can include rental agreements for housing, work contracts, utility bills in your name, etc. You are not required to work during this time, but it will only help your case if you have work documents to show when you apply for citizenship.
Prove your descent.Visit the Israeli consulate or the Ministry of the Interior (Misrad Hapnim) with your birth certificate to prove your descent. You should also take your marriage certificate to the Ministry if your spouse is Jewish or an Israeli citizen.
- This is where the first stage of the application process takes place. They will give you the correct application forms to complete and tell you what other documents they may require from you.
Obtain an ID and citizenship.Once you have completed the application, you will be granted an Israeli identification card, along with citizenship documents (including a passport, though this document can take a bit longer to process).
- Apply for an Israeli driver’s license so that you have more documentation proving your residence status.
- The process for attaining an Israeli driver’s license includes getting an eye exam, visiting a physician for a health exam, scheduling a driving lesson, and taking a written examination.
Gaining Israeli Citizenship through Naturalization
Live in Israel for three out of five years before applying.Before you are eligible to apply for naturalized Israeli citizenship, you must have established your permanent residence in Israel for at least three out of five of the years immediately preceding your application.
- This helps ensure that those applying for citizenship genuinely desire to be part of the Israeli community and have demonstrated it through their ability to live successfully in the country for a reasonably long period of time.
Become entitled as a permanent resident.To become a citizen of Israel, you must prove to the government that you intend to settle in Israel permanently. This means residing in Israel, locating employment in Israel, and becoming part of the community.
- Learning how to speak Hebrew is important at this stage as well.
Renounce other nationalities.In order to become an Israeli citizen, you must renounce any other nationalities that you currently hold. This does not mean that you must give up your other citizenship, but that you will agree to adhere to the Israeli laws regarding naturalization and gaining citizenship.
- Alternatively, you can prove that you will no longer be a foreign national from the time of becoming a citizen. This can be proven, depending on the circumstance, through various documentation such as your birth certificate, passport, marriage license or divorce decree, etc.
QuestionIs there a DNA test to prove I have Jewish heritage?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerNot specifically, but almost all Jews worldwide do have genetic links originating in the Near East.Thanks!
QuestionI am a born Jew. Do I need to reside in Israel for a certain amount of time before I can exercise my "Right of Return"?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerNo. You can get an Israeli citizenship immediately, though you'll have to wait one year for your Israeli passport.Thanks!
QuestionCan I make aliya and not be a citizen?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerNo, you would need to be a citizen in order to make aliya.Thanks!
QuestionCan I become an Israeli citizen if I am not Jewish and don't have Israeli relatives?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerOnly if you fit one of the naturalization options referred to in the article.Thanks!
QuestionHow does an Arab living in Israel become a citizen?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerIf his parents or one of his parents are Israeli citizens, he becomes a citizen as soon as he's born.Thanks!
QuestionCan I become an Israeli citizen if I am a retired senior citizen?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYes. Your age doesn't matter. You'll still need to apply through the regular channels like anyone else.Thanks!
QuestionCan I become an Israeli citizen if my child's father lives there?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYou may be eligible to become a citizen if you are married to the man that lives there. It also depends if he is a citizen, or if he is just living there.Thanks!
Questionif I have an Israeli Identity document (tehudat zehut) am I an Israel citizen?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerNot necessarily. While all Israeli citizens will have this type of document, residents of Israel are also required to obtain this identity card. Requirements for citizenship and residency are different, so you could be considered a resident without being considered a citizen of Israel.Thanks!
QuestionHow can I become an Israeli citizen if my country banned me from going there?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYou will not be able to become an Israeli citizen, then.Thanks!
QuestionIf my paternal grandparents are Jewish, am I eligible for citizenship?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYou are eligible, yes. Apply for it and you should be gained Israeli citizenship.Thanks!
I got married in Israel and was getting a working permit visa for the last year and a half. I recently got divorced and can no longer enter Israel. Who should I speak to?
How do I prove myself with just a birth certificate (Method 3, Section 2)?
I have lived and worked legally in Israel for 36 years but I am Christian not Jewish. Can I become naturalized citizen and retire here?
I have 2 English Patterdale Terriers. They are basically therapy for me. What are all the legal steps I must take to assure they can move to Israel with me?
If an Israeli citizen adopted me as a family member can I become a resident of Israel?
- For the naturalization process, the Minister of the Interior may exempt you from some of the requirements.
- If you are of Jewish descent, but actively and willingly practice another religion, you do not qualify for the Law of Return.
- Naturalization may be more complicated if your original nationality is considered by Israel among "enemy nationals."
- If you are non-Orthodox, you may need more proof to be able to obtain citizenship as a Jew.
- If you are Jewish but have a criminal past or some other reason to be considered a danger to the public, your citizenship bid may not be accepted.
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