Court overturns discriminatory condition for residency applications

The High Court of Justice issued a landmark ruling, which overturned the Ministry of the Interior’‘s policy of requiring foreign national common-law spouses to leave the country as a condition for the consideration of their residency applications.

In response to a petition submitted by the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI), The High Court of Justice issued a precedent-setting ruling on 16.3.06, which ordered the Ministry of the Interior to begin processing the residency applications of foreign national common-law spouses of Israeli citizens, without requiring them to leave the country as a precondition. The court thereby accepted ACRI’‘s position, which it presented during the legal proceeding on behalf of one of the couples, whose case culminated in the aforementioned ruling. ACRI Attorney Oded Feller represented the couple, and Justice Dorit Beinisch issued the ruling with the support of the President of the Supreme Court, Justice Aharon Barak, and Justice Eliezer Rivlin.

The couple, which is comprised of an Israeli citizen and a migrant worker from the Philippines, met in Israel, and have been living together in Israel for over a year and a half as a common law couple. Although they have submitted a formal request to marry, it is not yet possible as the woman is currently waiting for the finalization of the dissolution of her previous marriage in the Philippines. When the Israeli citizen requested a formalization of his partner’‘s residency status, the Ministry of the Interior demanded that the woman first leave the country as a condition for their initial consideration of her application. The couple then petitioned the Tel-Aviv Administrative Court, which accepted their petition and instructed the Ministry of the Interior to begin processing the application without requiring her to leave the country. The state appealed the decision through the High Court of Justice and Attorney Feller represented the couple throughout the appeal. As previously stated, the court rejected the state’‘s appeal and ruled that the requirement that a common-law spouse leave the country as a condition for initiating the processing of his/her application for formal Israeli residency status, is disproportionate and must therefore be revoked.

The justices also severely criticized the Ministry of the Interior for failing to publish the procedure regarding common-law spouses in an effective manner, thereby denying access to information concerning the procedure to those people who need it.

last updated : 23/04/06

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Categories: Citizenship and Residency, Democracy and Civil Liberties, The Right to Family


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