What is refugee family reunification?

Family reunification brings together family members living in different countries. Refugee family reunification is where a family was separated and at least one member of the family was recognised as a refugee, or complementary protection holder, by the country he/she lives in.  This refugee can then apply for his/her family to join them in that country.

Can I apply for family reunification?

Once you receive refugee or complementary protection status in your current country, you can then apply for eligible family members to join you. You will then have the status of a “sponsor” or “petitioner” of your family members.

The family members eligible for family reunification depends on the country where you live. Most national laws allow for spouses, parents of minor children and dependent children to reunify with you.  In some countries other dependent family members can also apply.  Eligible family members are often referred to as “applicants”.

Upon acceptance and issuance of relevant visas, your family may travel to be reunited with you.  On arrival they will be granted a residence permit (the type of permit differs between countries).

Be mindful that specific deadlines and procedures apply, depending on the country where you reside.

Which countries have family reunification programmes for refugees?

Dedicated refugee family reunification procedures exist in most countries. These programmes differ from the family sponsorship routes for other migrants (non-refugees) and are often more favourable.

Where can I find further information on family reunification and details of how to apply?

For more information on country-specific criteria and how to apply, please go to the Family Reunification sections of the relevant country page. Links to the details of some family reunification programs are below. UNHCR will work to update this list to include details on family reunification programs of other countries. In the meantime, if you are seeking information about a family reunification program in a country that is not below, please search for “family reunification” on the government website of the country about which you are interested.

See also