Following a Supreme Court appeal, the Ministry of Interior amended its procedures for registering children with only one Israeli resident parent: the change may allow children – who live in Israel with stay permits only – to receive permanent status in the country המוקד להגנת הפרט
23.04.2015
Following a Supreme Court appeal, the Ministry of Interior amended its procedures for registering children with only one Israeli resident parent: the change may allow children – who live in Israel with stay permits only – to receive permanent status in the country
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For many years, the Ministry of Interior’s prerequisite for reviewing applications to register in the Israeli population registry children who had only one permanent Israeli resident parent, was that on applying, the family had already completed two years of life in Israel (i.e., the center-of-life requirement). Applications that were filed before the family completed the two-year period in Israel were not considered, and the parents were instructed to reapply at the end of the period. The ramifications of this demand were particularly harsh for children coming under the Citizenship and Entry into Israel Law (Temporary Order), which differentiates between children classified as residents of the OPT – based on the fact that they either lived in the OPT at one time or were registered there – according to their age during application – separating them into two distinct classes: children under age 14, to whom the Minister of Interior may grant Israeli status; and children over age 14, to whom the Minister of Interior may not grant status, and who may receive, at most, military-issued permits to stay in Israel. By demanding that such applications be filed after the completion of a two-year center-of-life in Israel, the Ministry of Interior hampered the situation of children, by effectively lowering the “decisive” cap age for grant of Israeli status under the Law to 12 years old, rather than 14, as the Law itself stipulates.

Following HaMoked’s lengthy legal battle, the Ministry of Interior consented to revise its procedures. Thus, in September 2013, it was established that child registration applications filed before the end of the two-year period of center-of-life in Israel, would not be rejected outright, but would remain pending until the family had lived in Israel for two whole years – only then would a decision be made on the application according to the family-presented proof of center-of-life in Israel. However, the Ministry of Interior refused to apply its new policy retroactively, but only on new applications filed after September 1, 2013.

On February 15, 2015, HaMoked applied to join court proceedings as amicus curiae in an administrative appeal filed by Att. Michael Audi on behalf of a son of an East Jerusalem resident and a West Bank resident, who had not benefited from this mitigation, because his registration application had been filed before September 2013. HaMoked asserted that in amending the procedures, the Ministry of Interior had effectively acknowledged that its previous policy had been flawed, and therefore, its arbitrary insistence to apply the new policy only on new applications was unclear. Furthermore, the refusal to retroactively correct its policy contradicted the language and purpose of the Citizenship and Entry into Israel Law, and failed to meet the court’s instruction to apply the Law as narrowly as possible. HaMoked ended by stressing that the harm caused by the ministry’s decision to implement its revised policy only on “new applications filed henceforth”, was even greater given the fact that the ministry had frequently altered its policy in the past and had not published it until 2007.

And so, on April 19, 2015, the Ministry of Interior published updated versions of the two procedures relating to the registration of such children – the one relating to children born in Israel and the one relating to children born abroad. The revised procedures allow for reconsideration of applications which were outright rejected in the past for failing the two-year “center-of-life” criterion, provided that a subsequent repeat application filed by the parents had met the center-of-life prerequisite. The reconsideration will be conducted according to the child’s age on the date of submission of the initial application which was rejected.

Through this change, a significant number of children who live with their family in Israel pursuant to renewable stay permits only – without social security rights or even health insurance – will now be able to receive permanent Israeli status.
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