Following HaMoked’s appeal: Family unification application for an OPT woman approved in a flash - only three months! המוקד להגנת הפרט عر HE wheel chair icon
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16.07.2014
Following HaMoked’s appeal: Family unification application for an OPT woman approved in a flash - only three months!
Following HaMoked’s appeal: Family unification application for an OPT woman approved in a flash - only three months!
Ever since the Knesset passed the Citizenship and Entry into Israel Law (Temporary Order), family unification between East Jerusalem residents and their spouses from the OPT does not end with the spouse receiving permanent residency in Israel. In fact, it does not end at all. According to the Law, OPT residents wishing to live in Israel with their East Jerusalem spouses can only receive stay permits, and this too only if they meet a minimum age requirement – 25 for women, 35 for men. Approval for the first of these permits usually takes about a year, and often longer. In other cases, the Ministry of Interior gives approval only after a long and arduous bureaucratic and legal process which can last a decade or more.

The Ministry of Interior refuses to issue spouses from the OPT Israeli visas or permits before their family unification application is approved, forcing them to live in Jerusalem without permits as they await its decision. Until recently, couples waited for their family unification applications to be approved without fear of deportation, as the Ministry of Interior followed a general procedure, put in place about ten years ago, under which people with pending status applications could not be deported from Israel. However, in October 2013, the ministry changed its policy and decided that, unlike other foreign nationals who may not be removed from Israel before their applications are decided, OPT residents with pending status applications could be removed to the OPT.

On April 13, 2014, a resident of East Jerusalem filed a family unification application for his wife, who lives with him in the city. On the same day, HaMoked contacted the Ministry of Interior demanding no action be taken to have the woman, who cares for four minor children, removed from the country. After receiving no answer for more than two months, HaMoked filed an appeal to the appellate tribunal to instruct the ministry to refrain from removing the woman from her Jerusalem home while the family unification application was pending. Alternatively, HaMoked asked that she be issued an Israeli stay permit.

In the appeal HaMoked argued that the ministry had the power, and sometimes, as in the case at hand, the obligation to depart from its own procedures, because the procedures that deny OPT residents protection from deportation while their status application is pending contravene case law and the principles of proportionality and reasonableness and because the Citizenship and Entry into Israel Law does not preclude protection to OPT residents while their family unification applications are considered, on the contrary, the Law allows granting applicants Israeli stay permits pending a decision in their matter.

Surprisingly, the Ministry of Interior approved the family unification application on July 16, 2014, and the woman received an Israeli stay permit. The initial processing of the family unification, normally lasting at least a year, took three months in this case. It leaves us wondering why the foot-dragging and bureaucratic abuse that is characteristic of the ministry’s handling of family unification applications has become so ingrained and whether the reluctance to address HaMoked’s principled arguments was what sped up processing in this case.
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Ever since the Knesset passed the Citizenship and Entry into Israel Law (Temporary Order), family unification between East Jerusalem residents and their spouses from the OPT does not end with the spouse receiving permanent residency in Israel. In fact, it does not end at all. According to the Law, OPT residents wishing to live in Israel with their East Jerusalem spouses can only receive stay permits, and this too only if they meet a minimum age requirement – 25 for women, 35 for men. Approval for the first of these permits usually takes about a year, and often longer. In other cases, the Ministry of Interior gives approval only after a long and arduous bureaucratic and legal process which can last a decade or more.

The Ministry of Interior refuses to issue spouses from the OPT Israeli visas or permits before their family unification application is approved, forcing them to live in Jerusalem without permits as they await its decision. Until recently, couples waited for their family unification applications to be approved without fear of deportation, as the Ministry of Interior followed a general procedure, put in place about ten years ago, under which people with pending status applications could not be deported from Israel. However, in October 2013, the ministry changed its policy and decided that, unlike other foreign nationals who may not be removed from Israel before their applications are decided, OPT residents with pending status applications could be removed to the OPT.

On April 13, 2014, a resident of East Jerusalem filed a family unification application for his wife, who lives with him in the city. On the same day, HaMoked contacted the Ministry of Interior demanding no action be taken to have the woman, who cares for four minor children, removed from the country. After receiving no answer for more than two months, HaMoked filed an appeal to the appellate tribunal to instruct the ministry to refrain from removing the woman from her Jerusalem home while the family unification application was pending. Alternatively, HaMoked asked that she be issued an Israeli stay permit.

In the appeal HaMoked argued that the ministry had the power, and sometimes, as in the case at hand, the obligation to depart from its own procedures, because the procedures that deny OPT residents protection from deportation while their status application is pending contravene case law and the principles of proportionality and reasonableness and because the Citizenship and Entry into Israel Law does not preclude protection to OPT residents while their family unification applications are considered, on the contrary, the Law allows granting applicants Israeli stay permits pending a decision in their matter.

Surprisingly, the Ministry of Interior approved the family unification application on July 16, 2014, and the woman received an Israeli stay permit. The initial processing of the family unification, normally lasting at least a year, took three months in this case. It leaves us wondering why the foot-dragging and bureaucratic abuse that is characteristic of the ministry’s handling of family unification applications has become so ingrained and whether the reluctance to address HaMoked’s principled arguments was what sped up processing in this case.
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