Dual citizenship in Israel is very accessible for certain individuals. Interestingly enough, it goes beyond birthright and finds many ties to religion. Jewish people, for example, have an easier time obtaining Israel dual citizenship. You can, however, become a citizen without citizenship by descent or place of birth.
Many law changes in the 20th century had a major impact on how certain individuals could obtain citizenship in Israel. This, in turn, has a heavy influence on Israel dual citizenship. It’s important to dive into details to better understand how Israel dual citizenship can be acquired and lost.
Israel Citizenship Law
Before the establishment of Israel in 1948, the territory was part of Mandatory Palestine. This mandate ended in the same year during the Arab-Israeli War. At the time, because there was no citizenship law, Israel technically had no citizens. Instead, there were Temporary Residence Permits and identity cards.
Nowadays, Israel dual citizenship sits on top of two laws enacted in the last century. First is the Law of Return, which Israel put into place in 1950. The other is the Citizenship Act of 1952. Both of these have been modified countless times. The Law of Return received two amendments, and the Citizenship Act saw thirteen.
Basic Israeli citizenship involves jus sanguinis (citizenship by descent) for Jewish individuals and jus soli (citizenship by place of birth) for everyone else. Permanent residency, however, is also available. The most common examples include Syrian and Arab residents, but it’s made available for others.
Interestingly enough, about 10% of Israeli citizens hold Israel dual citizenship. Those interested in obtaining dual citizenship in Israel through the Law of Return, as a foreigner, don’t have to renounce their previous citizenship to do so. These individuals aren’t considered immigrants, but rather persons carrying out Aliyah.
The Knesset enacted the Law of Return on July 5, 1950, a precursor to the Citizenship Act of 1952. It stated that every Jew from around the world had the right to return to Israel. Those who did were considered oleh (Jewish immigrants). At the time, though, citizenship was still ambiguous.
Up until 1970, only individuals under the Law of Return and Citizenship Act were considered citizens. However, they decided to grant the same rights to the spouse of a Jew and their children, and grandchildren of a Jew and their spouses. This is still held up to this day. So, you can consider marriage as an option.
However, Israel dual citizenship is prohibited for those from countries deemed “enemy nations.” This includes Lebanon, Iraq, Iran, Syria, and the Palestinian territories. In other words, you cannot gain Israel dual citizenship or Israel citizenship, for that matter, if you come from any of these territories.
Nationality and Jewish Roots
While Israel law doesn’t recognize an Israeli nationality, it registers citizens along ethnic affiliations. These include Arab, Jewish, Druze, and Circassian. However, Egyptian, Georgian, and Russian nationalities are other exceptions. This ethnic affiliation assumes that these potential citizens are, and have always been, practitioners of Judaism or descendants of Jews.
Those who hold the aforementioned nationalities are also eligible for Israel dual citizenship. However, it also expands to other ethnicities who were present within the territory until the enactment of the citizenship law. This means that offspring are also considered Israeli and thus can apply for Israel dual citizenship.
Israel citizenship by descent is achieved when the Israeli parents take the original birth certificate and child to the Ministry of the Interior. They must also carry their identity cards or passports at the time. However, Israel dual citizenship is available to those who received citizenship by descent even in adulthood.
Residence and Adoption
Israel dual citizenship is also attainable via adoption and naturalization. A child receives Israeli citizenship if two consenting Israeli citizens choose to adopt them. This applies to cases where the adoption takes place outside of the country, as well. The age limits are unclear and are decided by the Ministry of the Interior on a case by case basis.
Adults seeking Israel dual citizenship are eligible for naturalization if they’ve resided in the country for three years within the previous five years. They must, however, hold some knowledge of Hebrew and swear an oath of citizenship:
- “I declare that I will be a loyal national of the State of Israel.”
Luckily, Israel dual citizenship is, in fact, an option. Whether you want to obtain it via marriage, residency, adoption, or another aforementioned process, it’s available to most foreigners. Contact our experts at Citizenships.com to get started. A private consultation is a great way to get all the immigration policy advice you need before applying.