Following HaMoked's petition: the Ministry of Interior has undertaken to step up the processing of requests for status of foreign women who reside in Israel without visas and suffer from domestic violence at the hands of their Israeli spouses המוקד להגנת הפרט
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09.08.2012
Following HaMoked's petition: the Ministry of Interior has undertaken to step up the processing of requests for status of foreign women who reside in Israel without visas and suffer from domestic violence at the hands of their Israeli spouses
Following HaMoked's petition: the Ministry of Interior has undertaken to step up the processing of requests for status of foreign women who reside in Israel without visas and suffer from domestic violence at the hands of their Israeli spouses
Foreign spouses of Israelis are not entitled to arrange their status in Israel independently. This is the right of the Israeli spouse, who has to apply to the Ministry of Interior for family unification. The interior ministry has a set procedure for dealing with the termination of the graduated procedure for status of foreign spouses due to physical abuse by the Israeli spouse, the inviting partner. The procedure is intended to allow the foreign female spouse to gain status on her own, independent of the abusive Israeli spouse. Under the procedure, such cases are brought before the Inter-ministerial Committee for Humanitarian Affairs, which determines whether to legalize the status of the foreign spouse, unreliant on her abusive spouse. The procedure relates to foreign women who have already entered the graduated procedure for Israeli status, and stipulates that the interior ministry is to extend the validity of the temporary residency visa of a battered woman who has applied to the inter-ministerial committee.

In March 2011, in the course of handling a Jordanian woman's application for status under the procedure, HaMoked requested that the woman should be granted temporary legal status pending the committee's decision on her application, thus allowing her to reside in Israel legally, without threat of deportation, to earn her living and begin rebuilding her life. The woman held no Israeli visa, because her husband had refused to initiate a family unification process, as part of his systematic abuse of the woman.

On February 7, 2012, HaMoked filed an administrative petition against the interior ministry's refusal to grant the woman temporary status. HaMoked also requested that the interior ministry would a amend the procedure so as to stipulate that any foreign woman who applies for Israeli status as an abuse victim of her Israeli spouse, and whose request meets the threshold criteria of the procedure, and has been transferred to the inter-ministerial committee, is to receive temporary status in Israel, pending the committee's decision.

HaMoked argued that should assist in severing the devastating dependency of such women on their abusive spouses. The refusal to grant them temporary status for the duration of the processing of their applications deprives them of the ability to start rebuilding their lives and regain independence. HaMoked stresses that rational underlying the directive to extend the visa validity of a battered woman is clear and self-evident, and should be extended to cases where the abusive spouse has not sought to legalize his wife's status. In effect, the women are being punished for their abusive spouses' refusal to apply for family application with them.

During the hearings on the petition, the interior ministry agreed to "set the highest priority to the processing of cases of victims of violence who do not hold a valid residency visa, and who meet the threshold criteria of the violence procedure". This prioritization will not be restricted and will apply to all stages of the application processing. On August 2, 2012, following the interior ministry's consent, the court dismissed the petition. Meanwhile, the woman herself received a temporary residency visa, soon after the petition was filed.

In the ruling, the judge stressed that although it would appear that most of the women who seek status under the procedure reside in Israel legally, the data should be examined, and "if the respondent [i.e., the interior ministry] discovers that the illegality of the residency results from a deliberate failure to arrange the status on the part of the abusive spouse, it seems that it would not be appropriate to have the woman suffer the consequences of such illegality".

The judge denied HaMoked's request to amend the procedure, but left an opening for future re-examination: "[T]he respondent's undertaking to shorten the examination process of applications submitted by victims of violence, from start to end, without any conditions such as joint children and an indictment having been filed against the abusive spouse, seems reasonable to me. Nevertheless evidently, monitoring and collecting data concerning the time periods that elapse until a resolution is made in such applications, the number of cases of women victims of violence who do not hold a legal residency visa and additional relevant factual data, may necessitate a re-examination of this issue".

HaMoked welcomes the interior ministry's decision to intensify the processing of applications of abuse victims who live in Israel without residency visa, recalling, nonetheless, that during the waiting period, even if shortened, the women will remain without status, unable to rebuild their lives, and under threat of deportation. Only the test of time will tell whether the prioritization does indeed lead to a significant shortening of the processing period of applications of victims of spousal abuse and the achievement of an acceptable balance between the women's needs and the concerns of the interior ministry.
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Foreign spouses of Israelis are not entitled to arrange their status in Israel independently. This is the right of the Israeli spouse, who has to apply to the Ministry of Interior for family unification. The interior ministry has a set procedure for dealing with the termination of the graduated procedure for status of foreign spouses due to physical abuse by the Israeli spouse, the inviting partner. The procedure is intended to allow the foreign female spouse to gain status on her own, independent of the abusive Israeli spouse. Under the procedure, such cases are brought before the Inter-ministerial Committee for Humanitarian Affairs, which determines whether to legalize the status of the foreign spouse, unreliant on her abusive spouse. The procedure relates to foreign women who have already entered the graduated procedure for Israeli status, and stipulates that the interior ministry is to extend the validity of the temporary residency visa of a battered woman who has applied to the inter-ministerial committee.

In March 2011, in the course of handling a Jordanian woman's application for status under the procedure, HaMoked requested that the woman should be granted temporary legal status pending the committee's decision on her application, thus allowing her to reside in Israel legally, without threat of deportation, to earn her living and begin rebuilding her life. The woman held no Israeli visa, because her husband had refused to initiate a family unification process, as part of his systematic abuse of the woman.

On February 7, 2012, HaMoked filed an administrative petition against the interior ministry's refusal to grant the woman temporary status. HaMoked also requested that the interior ministry would a amend the procedure so as to stipulate that any foreign woman who applies for Israeli status as an abuse victim of her Israeli spouse, and whose request meets the threshold criteria of the procedure, and has been transferred to the inter-ministerial committee, is to receive temporary status in Israel, pending the committee's decision.

HaMoked argued that should assist in severing the devastating dependency of such women on their abusive spouses. The refusal to grant them temporary status for the duration of the processing of their applications deprives them of the ability to start rebuilding their lives and regain independence. HaMoked stresses that rational underlying the directive to extend the visa validity of a battered woman is clear and self-evident, and should be extended to cases where the abusive spouse has not sought to legalize his wife's status. In effect, the women are being punished for their abusive spouses' refusal to apply for family application with them.

During the hearings on the petition, the interior ministry agreed to "set the highest priority to the processing of cases of victims of violence who do not hold a valid residency visa, and who meet the threshold criteria of the violence procedure". This prioritization will not be restricted and will apply to all stages of the application processing. On August 2, 2012, following the interior ministry's consent, the court dismissed the petition. Meanwhile, the woman herself received a temporary residency visa, soon after the petition was filed.

In the ruling, the judge stressed that although it would appear that most of the women who seek status under the procedure reside in Israel legally, the data should be examined, and "if the respondent [i.e., the interior ministry] discovers that the illegality of the residency results from a deliberate failure to arrange the status on the part of the abusive spouse, it seems that it would not be appropriate to have the woman suffer the consequences of such illegality".

The judge denied HaMoked's request to amend the procedure, but left an opening for future re-examination: "[T]he respondent's undertaking to shorten the examination process of applications submitted by victims of violence, from start to end, without any conditions such as joint children and an indictment having been filed against the abusive spouse, seems reasonable to me. Nevertheless evidently, monitoring and collecting data concerning the time periods that elapse until a resolution is made in such applications, the number of cases of women victims of violence who do not hold a legal residency visa and additional relevant factual data, may necessitate a re-examination of this issue".

HaMoked welcomes the interior ministry's decision to intensify the processing of applications of abuse victims who live in Israel without residency visa, recalling, nonetheless, that during the waiting period, even if shortened, the women will remain without status, unable to rebuild their lives, and under threat of deportation. Only the test of time will tell whether the prioritization does indeed lead to a significant shortening of the processing period of applications of victims of spousal abuse and the achievement of an acceptable balance between the women's needs and the concerns of the interior ministry.
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