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What is Israel’s Position on holding multiple Citizenships?

by Busines Newswire
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Does Israel allow dual citizenship for its citizens when they acquire citizenship of another country? In short, Israeli citizens are permitted to maintain their Israeli citizenship while also holding one or more foreign citizenship. This is not a universally accepted practice, as many countries have varied stances on dual citizenship. Some outright prohibit their citizens from obtaining secondary citizenship, while others, including several European Union nations, may have conditional allowances or restrictions. Attorney Joshua Pex, a renowned expert in Israeli immigration law and a partner in our firm, delves deeper into this intriguing topic in the discussion that follows.

How Common is Dual Citizenship Among Israelis?

Just how many Israelis have taken the opportunity to obtain foreign passports in addition to their Israeli ones? While an exact number remains elusive, conservative estimates suggest that well over a million Israeli citizens have done so. This number has been on an upward trajectory recently, driven by a growing trend among Israelis to pursue citizenship in countries like Canada, the USA, and numerous European Union members, including Germany, Austria, Netherlands, Bulgaria, Poland, Romania, and Greece. Except for some rare instances that will be highlighted later, having multiple citizenships does not contravene Israeli laws.

Yet, one crucial point to remember is that laws outside of Israel might differ significantly. Does Israel allow dual citizenship may be clear, but Israelis should be cautious and ensure that they are not infringing on the legal requirements of other countries when acquiring or holding multiple passports.

What Do Israeli Laws Say About Dual Citizenship?

Israeli laws on this matter are quite clear. The Citizenship Law specifies that with the exception of naturalization, obtaining Israeli citizenship doesn’t mandate renouncing prior citizenship. Furthermore, there’s no clause in Israeli law that dictates renunciation of Israeli citizenship upon acquiring another nationality. This means Israelis can legally possess dual or even multiple citizenships, allowing them to have, for instance, both Polish and American passports concurrently.

However, like with many legal frameworks, there are exceptions. One notable exception relates to individuals undergoing a naturalization process that doesn’t involve making Aliyah under the Law of Return. In such circumstances, a prerequisite for Israeli citizenship is relinquishing any previous citizenship. It’s worth noting that in certain exceptional situations, an exemption might be sought through the discretionary powers vested in the Minister of the Interior according to the Citizenship Law.

Furthermore, there are specific provisions for members of the Knesset and government ministers. The Basic Law: The Knesset asserts that Knesset members with dual citizenship from countries where citizenship renunciation is an option must forgo their secondary citizenship to serve. A similar stipulation exists for government ministers, as outlined in the Basic Law: The Government.

Lastly, it’s paramount to understand that irrespective of how many citizenships one might hold, the State of Israel always views individuals with dual citizenship as primarily Israeli citizens. Hence, during entry and exit from Israel, it’s obligatory to show an Israeli passport, irrespective of any other passports one might possess.

Are All Countries Open to Their Citizens Holding Multiple Citizenships?

While many countries permit the holding of multiple citizenships, each country’s legal position on this varies. In nations like Singapore and India, the legal framework is clear-cut: holding an additional citizenship is not allowed. On the other hand, countries like Japan have provisions for revoking citizenship if their nationals acquire another one.

Conversely, what about the United States and Canada? Both these nations generally have a more lenient stance, allowing their citizens to maintain dual citizenship. The European Union paints a varied picture. While most of its member countries don’t have legal constraints on having additional citizenship, there are specific exceptions, which are elaborated upon next.

Which European Union Nations Are Cautious About Dual Citizenship?

Over time, a shift has been observed in many European nations, moving towards a more inclusive approach that broadens the scope for their citizens to possess one or more foreign citizenship. Despite this overarching trend, some countries still exercise caution. Countries like Austria, Germany, Lithuania, and the Netherlands take the lead with a more stringent policy on this subject. For them, holding additional citizenship is typically prohibited, barring a few exceptions.

But within these exceptions lie silver linings, especially for Israeli citizens. The laws have provisions that, based on historical connections and reparations, allow Israeli citizens to retain their Israeli citizenship when acquiring citizenship in these countries due to direct family ties with Holocaust survivors or victims of persecution. To clarify, Israelis who can demonstrate their lineage to Austrian or German citizens who were persecuted during the Nazi era and subsequently lost their citizenship aren’t obliged to relinquish their Israeli citizenship upon acquiring Austrian or German passports.

Navigating Dual and Multiple Citizenship for Israelis: Why Seeking Legal Counsel Is Essential

To wrap up, while Israeli law generally permits the possession of multiple citizenships, there are unique scenarios that might pose legal challenges. Consequently, Israelis who are eager to obtain or who currently hold another citizenship must diligently scrutinize the legal prerequisites of the respective country.

If this article ignites more queries or if you seek specialized guidance, our doors are always open. Based in both Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, our law firm has a long-standing record of handling immigration matters not just for Israel but also for various European destinations and globally. Our adept attorneys, with a rich tapestry of professional experience and collaborations with prominent legal entities worldwide, stand ready to provide exhaustive, expert advice on multifaceted immigration matters.