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The Law of Return

July 30, 2023 3836 Time to read: 8 min.

Israel is a unique country. This state began its existence on May 14, 1948. In a short period of time, the country has managed to take a significant position in the world.

Around 900 thousand people already lived here already, by the time of the state formation, but now it is a country of many millions, created by Jews for Jews.

This is indeed fascinating, but what is the law of return and how does it work?

The Law of Return or חֹוק הַשְׁבוּת, is an Israeli law, passed by the Knesset on 5 July 1950, helps Jewish people with one or more Jewish grandparent, and their spouses the right to move to Israel and acquire Israeli citizenship.
This Law gathers under one “roof” all fellow Jewish brothers and sisters. 

This is the definition of the law of return.The first article of the Israel Law of Return fully defines the right to repatriation.
It is dedicated  to every foreigner with Jewish roots, regardless of the country, skin color or sexual orientation.

Basic Provisions of the Law of Return

The Israel citizenship law of return defines the basic rules for the Jew repatriation. The document consists of only 6 sections.
The entire procedure of returning the lost brothers and sisters to their historical homeland is built on the Jewish Law of Return to Israel.

Section 1 clearly defines that every Jew has the right to repatriate.
At the time of the formation and discussion of the document, a proposal was made to introduce two changes:

  • A Jew living in the State of Israel can be expelled from the territory of the country under any circumstances.
  • Section 1, which states that every Jew is entitled to immigrate to Israel, cannot be changed even through a vote of the Knesset.

The additions proposed by the opposition were not supported by the majority of parliamentarians. As a result, both propositions were rejected.

Article 1 – the basic right of the Jews 

The first article of the law clearly defines the right of every Jew to repatriate and consists of one phrase: “Every Jew has the right to immigrate to Israel.

As the document was being formed and discussed, two amendments were suggested:

  • A Jew living in the State of Israel may under no circumstances be expelled from the territory.
  • Article 1, which states that every Jew has the right to be repatriated to Israel, cannot be changed even by a vote of the Knesset.

Article 2 – to whom a repatriate visa is issued

A repatriate visa is a document that allows a person who has proven their Jewish roots to enter Israel. The form is issued after passing the Consular check.
Americans and Europeans receive permission from the consul at the Israeli Embassy in their country of origin.

According to section 2 of the Israeli right of return, the visa may be issued to any person who is Jewish and wants to move to Israel. 

Exceptions are those persons who may pose a security threat to the citizens of Israel and the country as a whole.
Only people who might be seen as the threat to Israel and its citizens can be the exceptions to the Law of return Israel. 

Meaning the visa will be denied to all those applicants for israeli citizenship right of return with a criminal record, as well as applicants who, during a medical examination, are found to have infectious diseases that pose a danger to public health.
These are the law of return requirements and they are strict for the reasons.

Article 3 – immigration after arrival in the country

The third article states that any Jew can come to Israel and express a desire to settle here. In such a case he is also entitled to citizenship if he can prove his Jewish ancestry.

Article 4 – who can claim the rights of a repatriate

The document gives an exceptional and clean definition of who can be considered a real “Jew”. This is a person born of a Jewish mother or a person who has undergone conversion. An important note is that a person cannot profess any other religion except Judaism.

This strict definition of belonging to the Jewish nationality has caused numerous misconceptions and criticism about the category of people eligible for repatriation.For example, some think the right to return is reserved only for halachic Jews.

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    The Israeli Law of Return eligibility has a defined list of people eligible for automatic Israeli citizenship:

    • Direct descendants, that is, children born of a Jewish father.
    • Grandchildren of Jews (if the grandmother, great-grandmother is Jewish).
    • People who have written “Jewish” or “Jew” in their nationality bar in any official document.

    In addition, by the power of Israeli citizenship law of return, the possibility of repatriation is provided to the spouses and the children of the eligible people mentioned above.
    It does not matter whether the holder of the right to repatriate is alive or not—children and spouses can obtain Israeli citizenship. The only exception is for the people who decided to change their religion.

    Amendments to the “Law of Return”

    The Jewish right of return defining the basic rules for Jew repatriation has been up and running for 70 years now. During this time, Israel’s citizenship law of return practically has not changed.

    The main point of the Israeli citizenship right of return is that Israel is the desirable homeland for Jews from all over the world.

    The most significant were the three changes:

    • 1958 Jew is that who has proved one’s Jewish roots and is related to Judaism.
    • 1970 The definition of a “Jew” was changed.
      From that date forward it was the name of a person born of a Jewish mother, as well as a person who converted to Judaism.
    • 1999 Amendment on obtaining citizenship through marriage with an Israeli citizen. In this case, the repatriation rules do not apply anymore.
      Now you can get an Israel passport only through the naturalization program.
      Thus, the possibility of obtaining Israeli citizenship through fictitious marriage was excluded.

    The spouse of a Jewish citizen is subject to repatriation if the marriage was concluded before the moment of entry into Israeli citizenship. Marry first and then apply for Israeli citizenship.

    The Law of Returns is not a normative act that defines the rules for obtaining Israeli citizenship. It only establishes the circle of people entitled to repatriation to their historical homeland. The Israeli citizenship law of return lets you take a dna test if you are not sure whether you have Jewish ancestors or not.
    Israel’s law of return process is quite complex, so I advise you to choose the specialists in this field in order to claim your citizenship.

    Everything related to the acquisition of Israeli citizenship is established by the articles of the Citizenship Law, issued in 1952.

    Since the Jewish law of return defines the circle of people who are entitled to claim the repatriation right, the main problem is the honesty and accuracy of establishing the presence of Jewish roots in a repatriant.
    The law of return application can lead one’s family from both mother and father.
    There are some nuances in this matter, we are talking about the Jewish roots established in the third generation.

    If belonging to the Jewish nation is determined by the male line, then the father or grandfather is presented as the Jewish relative.
    According to the rules of aliyah (repatriation), Jewish roots are determined up to the third generation.
    In this case, the son or the daughter of a Jew belongs to the second generation.

    A completely different story unfolds when the nationality is transmitted through the female line. In this case, the son or the daughter of a Jewish woman belongs to the first generation. This means that mother, grandmother and great-grandmother can act as Jewish relatives.

    If you are interested in more detailed information on how to obtain Israeli citizenship or want to know about the rules of repatriation, Israel law of return dna test, please contact our citizenship specialists for advice.
    Their work experience with all kinds of cases and knowledge help to use the Law of Return in your favor.
    Professional support and supervision of our specialists will help you get Israeli citizenship as easy and quickly as possible.

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