How To Apply For Family Reunification With a Palestinian spouse?
The following has last been updated in the summer of 2016. Due to periodical changes in Interior Ministry policy, and in light of the unique characteristics of each family, the information offered here should not be taken as legal advice, but only as general data.
Since 2003, upon the Citizenship and Entry Law (Provisional Order) taking effect, family reunification under the graduated process for foreign Palestinian partners classified as “residents of the area” (residents of the Territories) has not been allowed, and they may not receive legal status in Israel regardless of whether their partner is a citizen or a resident, and regardless of whether the relationship is one of official or common-law marriage. “Residents of the area” are eligible, based on a domestic relationship with an Israeli, only for a “military permit” (“heiter shehia” in Hebrew, “Tasrich” in Arabic) issued by the military’s “District Coordination and Liaison (DCL)” unit (“Mata”k” in Hebrew), unless they have applied for a residence permit before the end of 2003 and have been approved. In accordance with Ministry of Interior guidelines published in the summer of 2016, long-time couples may upgrade the legal status of the foreign partner and receive a temporary residence status in Israel which is eligible for an “orange ID card” (an a/5 visa). Couples who believe they are eligible for such an upgrade but have yet to receive notice from the Ministry of the Interior are welcome to call and consult.
The DCL permits for family reunification allow one to work in Israel but do not allow one to hold a driver’s license, do not grant the right to regular public health insurance (but only a partial health insurance under special circumstances) or social security, and entail other restrictions as well including opening a bank account and pursuing higher education. Eligibility for DCL permits is limited to female residents of the area who are over 25 years of age and male residents of the area over 35 years of age. As of 2008 this option is denied to residents of the Gaza Strip regardless of their age.
Requests by Palestinians from the Gaza Strip or by those under the qualifying age are rejected out of hand without the Population Authority even examining the individual merits of the request. However, residents of the area who are under the qualifying age and residents of the Gaza Strip may receive a DCL permit through applying to the humanitarian committee established at the Ministry of the Interior pursuant to the provisional order. The committee is even authorized to grant temporary residence status in special humanitarian cases, but these are granted very sparingly.
The provisional order states that a “resident of the area” is one listed in the area’s population registry, or someone living in the area even if not listed in the area’s population registry (except for residents of Israeli municipalities in the area). Experience shows us that the Population Authority interprets the definition of “a resident of the area” in a broad manner, beyond that stated in the law, and beyond its duty to narrowly interpret directives which strike at the core of human rights.
How to obtain legal status for a partner from an enemy country (Lebanon, Syria, Iran and Iraq)?
Since 2003, upon the Citizenship and Entry Into Israel Law (Provisional Order) taking effect, it is not possible to apply for legal status in Israel due to a domestic partnership with a partner from countries specified as enemy countries. Citizens of those countries wishing to obtain their legal status in Israel may do so only through submission of a special request directly to the Minister of the Interior.
For more information on family reunification and obtaining legal status in Israel due to a spousal relationship
For more information on humanitarian requests