Making aliyah or returning to Israel? Challenges and how to solve them

According to the Law of Return, any person entitled to return can immigrate to Israel, immediately receive Israeli citizenship, and enjoy a generous basket of rights

 (photo credit: TSVI KAN TOR)
(photo credit: TSVI KAN TOR)
Israel is the State of the Jewish people. According to the Law of Return, any person entitled to return can immigrate to Israel, immediately receive Israeli citizenship, and enjoy a generous basket of rights and benefits such as the right to work, the right to obtain health insurance, etc. Any Israeli citizen who returns to Israel after an extended stay abroad can start working upon arrival without any difficulties.

However, in some cases, due to the burdens of bureaucracy, it is better for certain Olim or returning citizens to seek legal assistance. The good news is that most problems have solutions. Adv. Tsvi Kan-Tor, founder of the law firm Kan-Tor & Acco, is a leading expert in Israeli immigration and global migration and provides the following scenarios: 

Pre-Aliya Options

This is a case in which an individual who is entitled to make Aliyah wants to work in Israel for a certain period to determine whether they wish to immigrate to Israel.

The solution is to apply for an A-1 visa, which allows for temporary residence in Israel and is granted only to those entitled to make Aliyah under the Law of Return. This visa allows the holder to live and work in Israel before making a final decision regarding immigration to Israel.

Holders of an A-1 visa will receive an identity card (in a different color) that includes an ID number. The holder of an A-1 visa is not a citizen of Israel, and therefore will not be issued an Israeli passport. The visa is usually valid for three years and can be extended for an additional two years.

“Step by Step” procedure - Spouse of an Israeli citizen

Israel takes an accommodating approach and allows the spouses of Israeli citizens to stay in Israel with their spouses, first as  temporary residents and then as citizens. This “step by step” process allows the acquisition of residency and citizenship for the Israeli citizen’s spouse in stages and includes civil marriage and same-sex marriage.

According to Adv. Kan-Tor, these are relatively complex and lengthy procedures that can take several years. It is recommended to receive guidance from an experienced professional who, in many cases, facilitates the process, prevents errors and mistakes, and thereby shortens the process.

In these procedures, the applicant requires legal advice regarding the best application for their specific case, as well as guidance about issues such as eligibility, required documents, scheduling and attending interviews, and assistance in resolving cultural and language barriers with the Ministry of Interior and other Israeli authorities.

This also applies to many other types of cases such as civil marriage, adopted children, cohabitation, etc.  

Determining Parentage and Citizenship of a Child

According to Israeli law, any child of an Israeli citizen is considered an Israeli citizen from birth. Therefore, when the mother is an Israeli citizen, the child will also be recognized as an Israeli citizen, subject to proof of paternity of the child. Most often, proof is provided by an official birth certificate.

If the father is an Israeli citizen and the couple is not married, or do not live together, then according to Adv. Kan-Tor, the father will be required by the Ministry of the Interior to file a paternity claim in the Family Court to confirm parentage. The father will be requested to provide proof of parentage by taking a DNA test to register the child as an Israeli citizen in the Ministry of the Interior.

Immigrants and Military Service

The issue of IDF service arises when children emigrate from Israel with their parents and wish to return to Israel. There is a different set of requirements for children who were born in Israel and left Israel with their parents and for those who were born abroad.

Although every Israeli citizen must serve in the IDF, there are many exemptions regarding children who grew up abroad or were born abroad. It is highly recommended for Israeli citizens over the age of 16 and a half who grew up abroad to determine their status regarding military service before they arrive in Israel.

Israeli law requires every Israeli citizen to verify their military status at the age of 16 and a half. This verification determines the citizen’s obligation to serve in the IDF or the possible entitlement for release or deferment of service. An Israeli citizen who left Israel with their parents before the age of 16, or was born abroad to Israeli parents, is entitled under certain conditions to defer military service, as long as they are living abroad with their parents. It is important to remember that every Israeli citizen over the age of 16 and a half must show a certificate regarding military status upon entering Israel.

According to Adv. Kan-Tor, in most cases, the military authorities in Israel use common sense and exercise discretion as long as the application is made as early as possible. The longer the application is delayed, the more complicated it usually becomes.

Written in cooperation with: Kan-Tor & Acco