How I did Everything Right and Still Feel Illegal

This is an honest plea, just this once, because sometimes it’s hard to keep strong. I’m trying to find comfort with those who feel the same and I know there are a lot of us.

Living Together in Israel

About two years ago, I met the man of my life. After having dealt for years with destructive relationships and self-awareness issues, I finally found my man. In Israel.

We did the long-distance thing for a year and two months, which was kind of a struggle in itself. Eventually we made a decision and I packed up my life and came to live in Tel Aviv at the age of 31. We were — and still are, ecstatic with love and ready to start our life and family together. Nothing could stop us now. Except papers.

We started the process for a partner visa well in time, got all the legal papers that were officially requested, built up a book with all kinds of proof that we are a genuine couple and made appointments in the offices that we were supposed to go to. I’m going to spare you the administrative baloney but the clue is, that about a year later there is still no visa and there won’t be for at least 7 more months.

That would mean 1 year and 4 months of feeling illegal. Of course, I am legal in my home country. But being physically away, suddenly poses issues with health care, work or general social security. All for which I have paid so many taxes (45% where I’m from) for all these years.

Having no visa means the following:

  • You can’t work, so you try to give each day purpose in different ways
  • You have to travel every three months — if you are lucky
  • Your savings burn up every day, future goals burn up every day
  • You don’t build up social security (pension, health care, …).
  • You don’t benefit from social security without doing something off the record
  • You are in between systems, because there are “no guidelines for your type of situation”
  • You have a gap in your career and resume
  • You feel pushed to get married before you are romantically ready for it
  • If you have a wish to become parents, your patience is being excruciatingly challenged
  • People feel sorry for you, but they are happy that you can keep busy and they wished they also had such a long holiday

I started studying Hebrew like a maniac, became conversational and could read and write in about 5 months. I made local and international friends, joined all kinds of groups and events and effectively started a life here. One of the most rewarding things I could have done, was to become an active part of the group, Together in Israel. We are all in the same situation and support each other, which is very comforting and constructive.

I’m a non-Jewish, non-religious woman from Western Europe, without a criminal record — not even a speed ticket, a bachelor’s degree, a track record of international employment, fluent in 3languages and conversational in 5. I don’t have any medical condition and I’m not a political or social activist. I have an enormous lust for life and would love to start a family. I have everything going for me, the only withholding factor is the first aspect. It’s unfair and yet it is.

Bottom line is, there is nothing else we can do, except wait and ride along with what the clerk tells us to do — in spite of his or her mood of the day.

I can honestly say that I fell in love with this country and that I’m genuinely happy here, but it’s not easy. Sometimes it’s just really hard.

Please comment, like or share this post if you feel or have felt like this. I’d love to hear from you ❤