Benjamin (Israeli) and Camila (Colombian) met online and fell in love, but the Ministry of the interior, immigration department, would not allow her to enter Israel as the foreign partner of an Israeli. However, with our legal assistance, after a long legal battle, the Immigration Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the couple. Here you will read a review of this cross border love story and its happy ending.
Israeli immigration officials not up to date with modern reality
Every year the Ministry of the Interior handles thousands of requests to open a cohabitation file for mixed couples. Israeli law is clear – an Israeli and a foreign partner who wish to live in Israel may regulate the status of the foreign citizen, in accordance with the graded procedure.
Most of the world has long since become accustomed to people meeting, talking, falling in love and having relationships on the internet, but old fashioned government bureaucracy still has difficulty accepting this reality. Unfortunately, it sometimes seems that the officials of the Ministry of the Interior still live in the last century. Therefore, immigration clerks were not ready to recognize daily contact on the internet and several face-to-face meetings as the basis of a relationship. All of this, until the Court of Appeals ruled according to the Law on Entry into Israel, which stated otherwise.
Benjamin (the names in this article are fictitious) almost gave up the chance to find love, after a divorce at an old age. Then, just before he completely despaired, he met his partner Camila on the internet, through his daughter’s Facebook account.
Meeting a partner online through online dating sites
The Ministry of the Interior has a gradual process, specifically designed for Israelis who want to bring non-Jewish partners to Israel. The representatives at the immigration office have the opportunity to talk to the couple before issuing the visa, to check that the relationship is indeed honest and real.
The problem that arose: the representatives of the Ministry of the Interior rejected Benjamin’s request to start the procedure from the outset, without explanation. Benjamin did not accept the evil of the decree – and filed an appeal. After several months, the Ministry of Interior officials were ready to explain the decision. The Interior Ministry officials explained that since most of the conversations and meetings between the couple took place online – their relationship cannot be “authentic”.
Benjamin was not satisfied with the answer and contacted the Ministry of Interior (Misrad Hapnim in Hebrew). This is more-or-less what Benjamin said: “This is simply ridiculous! All the time, people get married after fewer conversations and fewer face-to-face meetings, than I and Camila had. Despite this, the Ministry of the Interior is not even ready to let us start a process that is under its full control?! What is the Ministry of the Interior afraid of?! How come the Ministry of the Interior does not understand how a modern relationship works?!”.
After submitting a claim to the Court of Appeals, with the help of our law firm, the Ministry of the Interior decided to give the couple a chance to explain the relationship in a joint interview.
An interview to prove the sincerity of the relationship- before granting an entry to Israel for the foreign spouse
As mentioned, Benjamin turned to the Ministry of the Interior, which processes Immigration issues in Israel, to appeal their decision. After contacting the Court of Appeals, the Ministry of the Interior decided to give the couple an opportunity to explain their relationship in a joint interview (Benyamin in Petah Tikva, Camila at the Israeli consulate in Colombia). The interview was an opportunity to prove that the couple knows each other well and that the relationship between them is strong and sincere.
After the interview, a letter was received in which the Ministry of the Interior rejected the request again. This, based on the following data discovered in the interview: First, the couple talked and met mostly on the Internet – and never lived together for a long period of time.
Rejection of the request to invite a foreign spouse by the Ministry of the Interior, on the grounds that the sincerity of the marital relationship was not proven
After the interview, a letter was received in which the Ministry of the Interior rejected the request again. This, based on the following information discovered in the interview: First, the couple talked and met mostly on the Internet – and they never lived together for a long period of time. Second, mistakes in the details about the family members – and each other’s place of residence (Camila did not know whether Benjamin’s daughter from the previous marriage was 18 or 19 years old; Benjamin did not know whether Camila had 7 or 8 siblings). Thirdly, the two met a little less than two years ago – too little time to move in together. Fourth, Benjamin is much older than Camila.
These were the reasons for the rejection and the “contradictions” between the couples’ answers, which came up in the interview. The result is that according to the Ministry of the Interior, if you met online, you are older than your spouse abroad, or you are not sure what the name of the step-uncle on your grandmother’s side is (…) – this is a reasonable reason to reject your request to reunify in Israel.
The two filed for a second appeal to the Court of Appeals.
Filing an appeal to the Court of Appeals in Haifa- against the decision of the Ministry of the Interior
Benjamin and Camila decided not to accept the arbitrary end of the relationship according to the instructions of the Ministry of the Interior. Therefore, with the assistance of our Israeli immigration lawyer, the two filed an appeal to the Court of Appeals. Fortunately for the couple, it turned out that “there are judges in Jerusalem” (as Menachem Begin said at the time) or to paraphrase “there are judges in Haifa”.
The honorable judge understood the current Israeli reality: people meet and fall in love on websites. There is nothing wrong or strange about that. This is certainly not a reason to reject the couple’s request to live together in Israel.
The verdict: approval of the entry of a spouse (Colombian citizen) into Israel
Honorable Judge of the Immigration Appeals Tribunal in Haifa accepted the couple’s arguments according to which the claims of the Ministry of the Interior in this case are wrong.
First, the goal of the gradual procedure (as it is called) – a 5 – 7 year long gradual process of institutionalizing relations in Israel, during which the legal status of the foreign partner is upgraded in steps from a work visa at the beginning, to temporary residence and eventually Israeli citizenship. It is correct that the Ministry of the Interior has the legal right to verify that the relationship does exist and is true and honest. However, the Ministry of the Interior is also obliged to carry out the inspection in a reasonable manner. The judge examined the simultaneous interview and pointed out that despite mistakes in certain details, the couple knew many details that indicate a good relationship and a deep acquaintance.
Second, equally important: it goes without saying that a procedure for inviting spouses from abroad to Israel cannot be based on the condition that the couple lived in a relationship for many years before the procedure began. The procedure gives the relationship an opportunity to blossom – and is not the final stage of an established relationship.
Third, Honorable Judge understood the current Israeli reality: people meet and fall in love via online dating websites. There is nothing wrong or strange about that. This is certainly not a reason to reject the couple’s request to live together in Israel.
Fourth, the claim of the Ministry of the Interior, according to which it is a short-term relationship rejected – since the couple had known each other for almost two years and proved to maintain a continuous relationship.
Entry permits to Israeli finally granted after more than a year of legal procedure
At the end of the day, after a long legal battle, the couple received reimbursement of legal expenses and an entry visa to Israel for Camila, subject to the deposit of a bank guarantee. The loving couple could begin the procedure in Israel to regulate the status of a foreigner partner, in accordance with the procedure of the Ministry of the Interior.