You’ve made the decision that you want to live together in Israel? Congratulations!
In this article we will give you a quick (but thorough) overview of the Israeli “partner visa”, which can also be referred to as a “spouse visa”, “marriage visa”, “shared life visa” etc.
The partner visa is specifically made for international couples, where the foreign partner does not qualify for immigration to Israel under the Law of Return, meaning non-Jewish partners of Israelis who don’t have Jewish ancestry.
Foreign partners of all Israelis (both Israeli citizens and Israeli Permanent Residents) can be eligible for a partner visa. This article will focus on the gradual process for couples in which the Israeli side is an Israeli citizen. Information about the process when the Israeli side is a permanent resident of Israel is coming soon!
What is a Partner Visa / Spouse Visa?
The term “partner visa” is a general name for various types of visas and legal statuses that a non-Israeli partner of an Israeli can obtain in Israel. All types of partner visas allow their holders to legally work in Israel (both as an employee and as an independent worker) and live in Israel, together with their Israeli partner, and as long as the relationship lasts.
Partner visas are obtained gradually, as a part of a complete naturalization process that finally results in a permanent status in Israel – Either a Permanent Resident status or Israeli citizenship. This process is called “The Gradual Process” (Halich Medorag – הליך מדורג) and is sometimes also referred to as “family reunification” (Ihud Mishpahot – איחוד משפחות / אחמ”ש), “shared life” (Haim Meshutafim – חיים משותפים), etc.
The Different Types of Partner Visas
During the gradual process, a non-Israeli partner of an Israeli will receive 2 different types of visas, depending on the stage of the process.
- B1 General (ב/1 כללי) – temp. working permit (רישיון זמני לעבודה) – This is the initial visa any partner will get. It allows its holder to work in Israel in any field, and is also known as the “unrestricted work visa”. To not be confused with other types of B1 visas, which are granted to work immigrants and are restricted to a specific field/employer (caregiving, agriculture, expert, etc.)
- A5 (א/5) – Generally Temporary (ארעי כללי) – This visa is a residency visa, that grants the status of a temporary resident in Israel and an Israeli ID. In addition to the right to work, it also grants its holder full social rights in Israel, including state health insurance, tax credit points and much more.
Who is Eligible for a Partner visa in Israel?
Most couples consisting of an Israeli and a non-Israeli can apply for a partner visa, which will allow that non-Israeli partner to live in Israel with their Israeli partner. This includes married couples and unmarried couples. Same-sex couples are also welcome, and they too can apply as married or unmarried couples.
The partner visa is available for foreign citizens of any country in the world, with a few exceptions. Citizens of Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon are not eligible to get a status in Israel as partners of Israelis. In addition, heavy restrictions are applied to residents of the Judea-Samaria region and Gaza.
What is The Gradual Process?
The gradual process is a name for a long bureaucratic process, through which foreign spouses or partners of Israelis can obtain stay permits in Israel (partner visas), in a gradual manner.
In the gradual process, the couple will be required to periodically prove the honesty of the relationship. This is done through interviews, submission of relationship proofs (such as shared photos and recommendation letters), and center-of-life documents.
The process in its entirety (from initial visa until eligibility to Israeli citizenship or permanent residency) ranges between ~4.5 years to 7+ years in length, depending on the marital status of the couple.
The gradual process is taking place at the visa department of the Population and Immigration Authority (PIBA). It is dictated by two official PIBA procedures – Procedure 5.2.0008 for married couples, and Procedure 5.2.0009 for non-married couples and for same-sex couples.
The Stages of the Gradual Process
The length of each stage of the gradual process differs between married and unmarried couples. In addition, there is a small difference in the process between heterosexual married couples and homosexual married couples.
However, all couples in the gradual process go through these stages:
B1 General Visa
A5 Visa (temporary residency)
(Permanent residency or Israeli citizenship)
Both B1 and A5 visas are valid for up to one year and must be renewed yearly. The main differences between the different types of relationships are in the duration of the first stage, and in the last stage of the process.
Gradual Process for Heterosexual Married Couples:
B1 visa for up to 6 months → A5 visa for a minimum of 4 years → A choice between Israeli citizenship or permanent residency
Gradual Process for Homosexual Married Couples:
B1 visa for up to 6 months → A5 visa for a minimum of 4 years → Permanent residency → An option to apply for an Israeli citizenship
Gradual Process for Non-Married Couples:
B1 visa for a minimum of 3 years → A5 visa for a minimum of 4 years → Permanent residency → An option to apply for an Israeli citizenship
How do we start?
Glad you asked!
There are 3 possible scenarios when deciding to start the Israeli partner visa process, and each scenario results in a slightly different application process.
- Both partners are in Israel – This usually happens when the foreign side is already residing legally in Israel with a different status (student/work immigrant/refugee etc). In this case, the application is submitted through the online form.
- The Israeli partner is in Israel and the non-Israeli partner is abroad – The application will be submitted by the Israeli partner via the online form.
- Both sides are abroad – An initial request will be made to the Israeli consulate at the country of residence. The embassy will forward your application to PIBA, which will decide whether the couple can enter Israel together and submit an online application.
Ready to start?
For scenarios 1 and 2, jump over to our amazing step-by-step guide, to find a detailed, step-by-step breakdown of how to start the gradual process and obtain your first partner visa!
For scenario 3, please contact the Israeli embassy in your country of residence, to get information and instructions on how to initiate the gradual process from abroad.
The process to obtain a partner visa or a spousal visa in Israel is a long bureaucratical process, that requires diligence and patience. Despite that, the gradual process is the wisest way to go for international couples that want to have Israel as their center of life. The partner visa and the gradual process, are one of the only ways for people who aren’t eligible to Aliyah to eventually obtain Israeli citizenship.
While not easy, it is completely possible! The Israeli Association for International Couples is run by couples who went through the same process and survived to tell! It is the first-ever nonprofit organization in Israel that will support you in every step of the way.
If this article helped you, please consider making a donation to our association. <3