Israeli Citizenship for Non-Jews - Exploring the Naturalization Process

Israel was established with the primary objective of providing a safe haven for Jews to freely practice their religion and escape persecution. This commitment is reflected in the Law of Return, which grants Israeli citizenship to all Jews.

However, the process of obtaining Israeli citizenship for non-Jews is more intricate. One potential route for non-Jews to acquire Israeli citizenship is through naturalization. This process entails meeting specific requirements outlined in Israel’s Citizenship Law and typically spans several years.

In this article, we will explore the naturalization process for non-Jews, including who is eligible, the steps involved, and whether alternative paths exist for non-Jews to become Israeli citizens.

At our law firm, we specialize in various immigration processes to Israel. If you are interested in the naturalization process, please feel free to reach out to us. We would be delighted to assist you.

How can I obtain Israeli citizenship through naturalization?

The pathway of naturalization is established under Clause 5-A of the Citizenship Law, which outlines six conditions that must be met by individuals seeking naturalization:

  • The applicant must be physically present in Israel during the time of application.

  • The applicant must have resided in Israel for a minimum of three years within the preceding five-year period leading up to the application.

  • The applicant must be eligible for permanent residency.

  • The applicant must have established or intends to establish their residence in Israel.

  • The applicant must possess a basic proficiency in the Hebrew language.

  • The applicant must have renounced their previous citizenship or demonstrate that they will no longer hold foreign citizenship upon acquiring Israeli citizenship.

Essentially the law dictates that the requester for citizenship must be a permanent resident in Israel, in the specified years prior to the submission. Becoming a permanent resident in Israel can be a tricky and complicated process. So how can you become a permanent resident in Israel? We will review this process in the next section.

How to become a permanent resident in Israel?

Permanent residency in Israel is different from being a citizen in many aspects. Unlike citizens of Israel, those who are permanent residents are not eligible to receive an Israeli passport. However, they do receive an Israeli ID. Also, permanent residents are not allowed to vote in the national elections, and spending long periods of time abroad might lead to losing their residency. 

One of the groups who is eligible to receive permanent residency is the romantic partners of Israeli citizens who do not want Israeli citizenship or cannot receive another citizenship without surrendering their current one. The process of receiving permanent residency is a lengthy one and is referred to as the gradual process, as it includes the gradual acquisition of status in Israel. 

For married couples, the gradual process will take five years, whereas for common-law couples, this process will take seven years. For same-sex couples, the process is equivalent to common law couples, whether they are married or not.  

What are the steps of the gradual process?

The gradual process begins with the partner or spouse receiving a 6-month residence permit. This permit allows for the partner to work in Israel as well. After the first step, the partner will be required to prove that they do not have a criminal past. Also, the couple will have to show that they are living a shared life in Israel, and they will be required to prove the sincerity of their relationship. 

After only about four years, the partner will receive a permanent residency visa. At the same time, the partner may also request citizenship instead of permanent residency. It is important to note that in this case, the partner will not be obligated to forfeit their foreign citizenship or master the Hebrew language. 

What other pathways to receiving Israeli citizenship are there? 

There are other pathways to receiving Israeli citizenship aside from the naturalization process. In this article, we will review the options in short, but you can check this article on our website for a more detailed explanation.  

One option to receive Israeli citizenship is through a decision of the Ministry of Interior. This decision can be made on the basis of one’s contribution to the economy or security of Israel. 

Another option is to receive citizenship through adoption. In case a non-Jewish child is adopted by a family who is eligible to make an aliyah, the child may be granted the option to make an aliyah with their family and become a citizen. 

Israeli citizenship through naturalization

Navigating the naturalization process in Israel can be challenging for individuals who are unfamiliar with Israeli law and effective engagement with relevant authorities. If you or your partner are considering assessing your eligibility for naturalization or pursuing the process, we strongly recommend seeking the guidance of a professional immigration lawyer specializing in Israeli immigration law.

At our law firm, we specialize in immigration to Israel and have extensive expertise in assisting numerous individuals with their naturalization requests, ensuring a streamlined experience. Should you require legal advice or guidance on this matter, we warmly invite you to reach out to us.


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