U.S. Israeli Citizenship
A person who comes to Israel on an Oleh (immigrant) visa or changes to the status of Oleh while in Israel automatically acquires Israeli citizenship unless he files a declaration refusing it within three months of his arrival or change of status. In the latter case, he becomes a permanent resident, non-citizen. Otherwise, he automatically acquires Israeli citizenship at the end of the three months, retroactive to the date of arrival in Israel or change of status. It is also possible to waive the three month waiting period, but that is not recommended.
 
In order to lose U.S. citizenship, one must voluntarily perform an expatriatory act, and such performance must be coupled with an intent to give up citizenship. Citizenship is not lost if there is an expatriatory act with no such intent.
 
The U.S. Supreme Court has held that the act itself cannot be accepted as proof of intent -- there must be extraneous proof, and the burden of proof is on the U.S. Government to establish the intent to give up citizenship.
 
The U.S. State Department does not regard automatic acquisition of Israeli citizenship (Par. 2 or the Nationality Law of Israel) as an expatriatory act so the issue of intent does not even arise. However, if someone acquires Israeli citizenship by naturalization, his application (Par. 5 of the Nationality Law) can be regarded as a potential expatriating act. However, if the State Department cannot prove that the person intended thereby to give up his U.S. citizenship, the citizenship is not lost. Please consult an AACI counselor before doing this.
 
Re: Naturalized U.S. Citizens:
 
Until November 14, 1986, if a naturalized U.S. citizen left the U.S. within five years of naturalization and took up permanent residence abroad, this could serve as prima facie evidence in court proceedings to revoke the American citizenship. However, if there were countervailing reasons to leave the U.S. and move to Israel, they could be presented in order to avoid loss of citizenship. Usually the Consul would accept a well-drafted affidavit setting forth the reasons, the passport would be issued and the matter would go no further.
 
In 1986 the law was amended to reduce the period from five years to one year commencing November 14, 1986. However, the amendment applied only to the future, not the past, so those who were naturalized prior to November 14, 1986 continued to be bound by the five years, while those naturalized from then on, were bound by the one year period.
 
The law was further amended in 1994 to repeal the one-year requirement entirely. However, this amendment also applied only to the future so those who were naturalized before it continue to be bound by the requirement.
 
For those who are bound, it is recommended that if a naturalized U.S. citizen wishes to be in Israel during the first year after the naturalization, he should remain on a tourist or temporary resident’s visa during this year. Then, before the end of the year, he should return to the U.S. and leave it only when the twelve months following naturalization are up.
 
Temporary Residents do not receive the full range of immigrant benefits, which Olim receive. Permanent Residents – non-citizens are those who filed a declaration refusing Israeli citizenship as noted in the first paragraph above. These declarations are called Hatzharot Arli (Ee Ratzon L’hiot Ezrach Yisraeli) and there is a special stamp or insertin their foreign passport to show this status. Such people receive full Olim benefits and they are bound by obligations such as tax and military conscription. There are foreign countries, which will cancel their citizenship upon acquisition of a foreign (e.g. Israeli) citizenship. (This is not the case with the U.S. or Canada.) Because of this, Israeli law permits all foreign citizen immigrants to refuse Israeli citizenship.
 
U.S. Citizenship of Children Born Abroad
 
A child born outside of the U.S. to two U.S. citizen parents derives U.S. citizenship at birth and can be so registered at an American Embassy or Consulate, which will issue a Report of Birth of American citizen Abroad, an American Birth Certificate and a U.S. passport.
 
A child born outside the U.S. to one U.S. citizen parent and one alien parent will derive U.S. citizenship at birth, if the citizen parent had five years of residence in the U.S. of which two years were over age 14, prior to the birth. This can also be registered at an Embassy or Consulate.
 
The Immigration and Nationality Act was amended several years ago to provide for “Expeditious Naturalization” for children under 18 who were born abroad to one U.S citizen. If that parent did not have sufficient residence in the United States the law permitted the use of residence of a U.S. citizen grandparent to obtain the naturalization. These procedures are all done at offices of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, formerly the Immigration and Naturalization Service in the United States (not in the American Embassies or Consulates).
 
Many thousands of children have been enabled to obtain U.S. Certificates of Citizenship under this law. However, if the American citizen parent had died, the naturalization could not take place even though the grandparent had long-term residence in the United States. Recently, the law was amended to provide that within five years after the death of the U.S. citizen parent, the U.S. citizen grandparent could apply for and obtain the Certificate of Citizenship for the grandchild.
 
Please contact your AACI counselor for more details on how to apply.
 
AACI wishes to thank Yitzhak Heimowitz, Attorney at Law for writing this article.
Tel: 03-5601994 Fax: 03-5605356, 64A Shenkin St, Tel Aviv 61141
 
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