Kadima has proposed legislation that would provide clear-cut criteria for giving residency permits to labor migrants and spouses of Israeli citizens.

The bill would make it harder for migrants to enter Israel, but once here, easier to receive official status.

Kadima says current laws are not comprehensive enough to deal with labor migration. It says the bill would allow more sympathetic treatment of people crossing the border; for example, of children of migrants illegally in Israel for many years.

Success in advancing the bill would show that Kadima is a key member of the coalition, which it joined two months ago. Kadima considered submitting such legislation before joining the coalition, but withdrew it because a bill sponsored by the opposition would have no chance of passing.

Meanwhile, non-Israeli spouses above 22 would receive legal status in Israel after declaring loyalty to the state, showing "some proficiency" in Hebrew, and proving that they earn a salary equal to or above the Israeli average. Security officials would also have to approve the application.

For migrants, the bill envisions a two-year residency that could be extended for up to five years. Migrants in Israel legally for 10 years would be able to request permanent status, which could be granted three years after applying. Migrants requesting permanent residency would have to prove they have not needed welfare services during the three-year waiting period.

An estimated 250,000 to 400,000 foreign workers have entered the country over the past decade. Some 130,000 people, mostly Palestinians, have entered as relatives of Israeli citizens.