Israel's Interior Ministry has begun sifting through applications of over 2,000 children who are in Israel without legal status.
A ministry official, Sabine Haddad, said Tuesday that legal status has been granted so far to 257 children, which will allow their families to stay in the country. She says 118 applications have been rejected because they didn't meet government criteria.
Haddad says the ministry will decide on about 2,000 other children later this month.
There are about 140,000 people who have overstayed their visas in Israel, most of them Asians and Africans. Thousands have since had children here. Many of them speak Hebrew and know no other home.
Israeli rights groups have lobbied to legalize their status. Others fear their growing numbers threaten Israel's Jewish character.