Israel's Interior Ministry Seeks to Deport Israeli's Stepdaughter on Technicality

18-year-old woman's parents made an error on their daughter's citizenship application.

An 18-year-old woman whose stepfather is Israeli and whose mother is in the process of becoming a citizen has been in prison for two weeks and the Interior Ministry wants to deport her. The reason: Her parents made an error in the application for her citizenship.

The Jerusalem District Court is to hear a petition on Thursday on behalf of Tatiana Kozmina against her deportation. The petition also asks to release her from prison.

Kozmina was arrested by immigration police in her Afula home late at night about two weeks ago and taken to Givon prison. Russian-born Kozmina came to Israel legally about two years ago at age 16 with her mother, who married an Israeli citizen. Her biological father signed a letter consenting to his daughter's relocation here.

Kozmina was a high school student preparing for matriculation exams in biology, physics and chemistry at the time of her arrest. Both she and her mother believed the mother's citizenship includes the daughter.

A few months ago they found that the proces does not apply to the daughter. The Interior Ministry denied the daughter's request for legal status in Israel, claiming that the biological father's letter consenting to her living in Israel was valid only until she reached 18.

However, the law says that from the moment she turns 18 and is no longer a minor, the father has no say about her place of residence, said the family's attorney, Adi Lustigman from the Public Defender's Office.

"A child comes to Israel with her mother who marries an Israeli citizen. She has no close relative in her country of origin save for an elderly grandmother," the petition says. "She learns Hebrew, makes friends and is studying for her matriculation exams. Her request for legal status has been waiting in the Interior Ministry for a long time. Her mother and stepfather are dealing with her application. Suddenly she is arrested, taken forcibly from her home late at night, placed in custody and slated for deportation from her family and home," the petition says.

The ministry didn't even allow the girl's family to appeal the decision with the ministry's humanitarian committee, the petition says.

The Interior Ministry responded: "Ms. Tatiana Kozmina came to Israel as a tourist in 2010, with the intention of settling in Israel, but did not have the required approval from the biological father. The mother did not include her daughter in the [naturalization] process and today, when her daughter is an adult, she cannot do so."