What is the change? The Israeli government issued a directive this week stating that legally married same-sex couples will have the same immigration and naturalization rights as other married couples in Israel.

What does the change mean? Married same-sex couples will have the same rights for immigration purposes as all other married couples. Previously, married same-sex couples had been treated as unmarried couples, meaning they were entitled to residency if they met other qualifying criteria, but not citizenship.

  • Implementation time frame: Ongoing.
  • Visas/permits affected: Israeli citizenship.
  • Who is affected: Same-sex spouses seeking to become naturalized Israeli citizens.
  • Next steps: Under the directive, the Ministry of Interior is expected to issue new regulations that will provide the right of naturalization in Israel to foreign same-sex couples. The directive is  binding on the ministry immediately, however.

Background: While same-sex marriages cannot be performed in Israel, the government will now recognize foreign same-sex marriages the same way it recognizes other foreign marriages. Foreign same-sex spouses who are married to an Israeli citizen will be able to become legal residents after six months and Israeli citizens after 4 ½  years. In order to be eligible for citizenship, the spouse must show that the couple’s “center of life” is in Israel, that the relationship is sincere, and must live in the same household as the Israeli partner.

BAL Analysis: The new regulations will benefit married foreign same-sex partners living in or relocating to Israel, as they now have the same rights as married opposite-sex partners.

This alert has been provided by the BAL Global Practice group and our network provider located in Israel. For additional information, please contact your BAL attorney.

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