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Fourth Generation Becomes Citizens

Who are we talking about? Under the Israeli Law of Return, the fourth generation is the great-grandchildren of the male Jews. And they have a problem with obtaining the status of citizens. But the problem can be solved.

General rules and residence permit

Someone might say: «But they did not demand anything of this kind from us… and that paper was not needed…”

The Israeli red tape is peculiar. Every branch of the same of the same institution lives with its own ideas about the rules. However, the general, centralized rules do exist. And you should know about them. If the error is in your favor (you got something earlier than usual, they did not ask for a paper) — well, it's nice. If everything happened the other way round, you should complain and insist. Sometimes going to the very top. Believe me, this wall can be broken.

So, let's go:

When you get a visa for permanent residence you sign a of paper informing you that your child will not receive the citizenship immediately.

By the way, you’ better apostille the birth certificate in advance (although it may be unnecessary).

If one of the parents stays behind in the country of origin, the other should have the written  consent for the child’s living in Israel and obtaining a residence permit, preferably also apostilled.

A permanent residence visa is valid for 3 months. Immediately upon arrival, you should apply for the “Alef hamesh” visa (a temporary residence permit) to the Interior Ministry. 

There are places where you can simply drop by the Ministry’s branch being on the way somewhere else, and if you have the child's passport with you, they will stamp everything immediately.

On the other hand, there branches where you should make an appointment in advance. You do that via the Internet, in the name of the child, specifying the aim of the visit as the obtaining or extension of the „Aleph-Hamesh“ visa. If the appointment date is a bit little later than the day when the visa expires, it is not terrible. If you already have it, that's enough. The only thing you should not do before getting the residence permit is to travel abroad with the child even for a few days — you may have  problems when trying to enter back.

The longest list of documents (remember, you will not need them all at some branches):

You should photocopy every sheet. It is obvious that, being a new repatriate, you simply cannot have some of them. Bring everything you have.

1. Two photos — ask to be photographed for an international passport (darkon).

2. The child’s international passport (from the country of origin.

3. The parents’ IDs (teudat zeut) and the new repatriate’s ID (teudat ole).

4. Contract for the rent of apartment.

5. Landlord’s letter confirming that you and your child live there from a certain date until present The letter should carry the landlord’s contact phone number and ID number. If you live, for example, in the kibbutz in the framework of a program, you will need a letter from the village council.

6. All paid apartment bills: land tax (arnona), gas, water, electricity. Yes, with photocopies. If you apply for an extension — bills for the last year. You go crazy while copying all of them but it cannot be helped.

7. A letter from the school or kindergarten.

8. A letter of reference from the class teacher (the form free: has been in the from a certain date, behaves well, studies Hebrew and so on).

9. If you have merit certificates, even the least important from the class or a hobby group, bring them too, they are respected.

10. The parents’ bank statement showing the flow of funds.

11. If the parents work — salary statements (tlush maskoret) for the whole period. They are sheets about the salary which they give you wherever you work. If the parents have just come and do not work, but study, for example, in an ulpan — a letter from there.

At the Interior Ministry, right on the spot, you have to fill out an appropriate form — it is in Hebrew and English, quite a simple set of general information — name, address, ID number, and so on.

If you plan to go abroad with a child later, ask the Ministry to make an entry visa for him or her. An entry visa for a year costs about 200 shekels. A residence permit — 170 shekel. You can pay with cash or card. By the way, many believe that you can not leave before you become a citizen. Sometimes they say it at the embassy when you get permanent-residence visas. It is a myth! When applying for the citizenship, you will have to prove that the center of the child's life is in Israel — here he lives, studies, goes to hobby groups… A couple of weeks trip to another country during school holidays does not contradict it and usually does not cause any criticism. However, all sorts of incidents happen. By the way, if you want to go to a Schengen country, the child will need a visa. You can get it here, in Israel, at an embassy or a consulate, providing a standard set of sheets (special for each country, give or take).

Important: if you are planning a trip, say, in July. and the residence permit ends, for example, in June, you most likely will not get the visa before the extension. Thus, the residence permit must be valid at the time of travel.

So, a residence permit has been obtained, and should renew for three years (three, not five!).

During all that period, do not forget to collect all the merit certificates and rewards your child got, even the least important and stupid ones will come in handy!

Very important: It's no secret that even the most peaceful and wise (LOL!) teenagers have a taste for getting into a mess of various stupid kinds. Therefore, try to explain your child, as clearly as possible, that any, even the minor, offence may greatly complicate his or her situation. No bottle of beer with friends in the street, you’d  better not even be near it. No cold weapons — including pen knives or souvenir, but iron swords — this is VERY serious. If something like that suddenly  happened (who is secured?!), struggle to the last ditch, hire a lawyer, even a petty punishment like several hours of public works at the school library, nevertheless means entering the police base and can cause serious problems in getting the citizenship.

Citizenship and army for the fourth generation

When three years of waiting for citizenship by children of the fourth generation come to an end and the day of application for citizenship is approaching, adventures begin.

When getting the last extension, you can and should ask the Ministry for the questionnaire — it's a pretty thick bundle of sheets with a bunch of questions about relatives and so on. But none of them is difficult. It also contains the list of documents, the same as for the extension, plus a few more:

  • Letter from the National Insurance Institute (Bituah Leumi);

  • Letter from health insurance institute (you can get it from a secretary), just saying that the child is registered there from a certain date until the present;

  • A strange letter from the municipality (iriya) confirming that the child lives in the city. A municipal official may not understand what you want from him, but they are able to send you a letter confirming that you have paid the land tax during all that period.

  • Important!!! Any merit certificates and rewards, even if from a school party.

Now about the time of applying. You can apply after three years. But you may face everything here. There is a sweet-dream development when the Ministry officials do not think that three years officially start not on the day of arrival but on the day of receiving the first residence permit, and do not deduct the days spent abroad, for example, at the grandmother’s village place, believing that a couple of months does not matter if the child is small enough, while in a case of a teenager those months may mean a lot. But generally the Ministry officials may find fault and count from the day of entry.

And it happens this way: The parents of a girl of five and a half years old went to apply for citizenship but were told that she alghouth she had lived in in Israel for three years, she spent four months and therefore they did not give her citizenship, just extended her visa for another year.

So, the officials may deduct the time spent abroad even in the cases of little ones.

Citizenship if one of the parents stayed back in the country of origin

If one of the parents stayed back in the country of origin, you should get his written consent before applying for the citizenship. Many people face the demand for the father to draw up the consent only and exclusively at the Israeli embassy in Russia. But sometimes an ordinary notarial consent is enough.

If, for some reason, it proves impossible to get the consent: then, alas, the only option is to extend the visa until the is child is 18 years, and after that the child applies for the permanent residency, then — the army and citizenship.

Or the army immediately, now it is possible to do military service with the alef hamesh visa. But we will discuss that a bit later.

What is the difference between citizenship and permanent residency?

By the way, what is the difference between citizenship and the permanent-resident status?

1. A resident cannot elect and be elected to the state legislature (it is not so with regional or municipal elections).

2. A permanent resident cannot get an international passport (darkon), only a temporary passport (lesse pass, or teudat maavar). With that temporary passport one can cross borders without visas but the list of countries is much shorter than for those who have darkon.

3. If a permanent resident lives abroad for seven years, he or she lose the status.

4. Children. A child who has at least one parent with Israeli citizenship also has the right to citizenship. Descendants of permanent residents do not have that right.

The most difficult case — teenagers

If the child has lived in Israel for three years before he or she turns 18 — everything is OK. If he or she has not, they demand the denunciation of citizenship of the country of origin, and it might be quite difficult.

Options: Status of a permanent resident — army — citizenship after 18 months of military service.

Alternatively, and it is allowed now — one can go to the army with the aleph hamesh visa and then use the algorithm described above.

Remember, they do not send a draft to a fourth-generation kid without citizenship automatically. Therefore, one need to phone to the military enlistment office (lishkat giyus) and say that one wants to go to the army. One should keep in mind that the rules are new and, therefore, operators on duty might be unaware of the Defense Minister’s order. They can easily say that the fourth generation is not called up and ask you to get lost! One should inform them about the order and demand to talk to a superior officer. At the same time, one should send them, via their Facebook profile, a letter containing the personal data and, again, a reminder about the order, If it does not help, one should write and phone to the Defense Minister’s office directly.

Actually, even if you dart past before 18, but only just, it makes sense to start asking for conscription without waiting for the call-up age, at the end of the 10th or beginning of the 11th grade, when classmates begin to receive drafts (tsav rishon). It is important: the army is a clumsy machine. The one who, in the terms of time, slips out of the standard framework, the whole process becomes slow. And a school graduate finds himself between two stools — all the friends are in the army, only he slouches about. It's psychologically hard. 

If something went wrong

The last but not least: what to do if something went wrong. They denied, find fault, deny refuse without explaining the reasons, say it's not three, but five years… Complain! It is usually useless to complain to the head of the department, most likely, an official voices his position.

You should immediately file your complaint “to the very top” — to the director of the Interior Ministry. You can also contact a member of Knesset, it does help, especially before elections.

As for lawyers, you might receive contradicting pieces of advice, and all of them will prove to be wrong. And it costs a lot. Only an advice. If the lawyer takes you case it will be very expensive. Therefore, it makes sense to contact a lawyer only if the case is really difficult, and, most importantly, look for a seasoned expert in this field who has reliable references.

And always remember: you can win over the Israeli red tape. In almost any case.

We wish you strength, patience and good luck!


Polina Ekhilevskaya


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