The protection of the family unity is an important human right. If you were separated from your family before or during your flight, they may join you in Germany under specific conditions. Whether your family can join you ultimately depends especially on your residence title.
Who can help you in the family reunification process?
To ensure compliance with existing legal provisions, you should seek the assistance from a specialised advice centre. The following advise services provide individual counselling on family reunification free of charge:
- You can seek individual counselling on family reunification at the independent advice centers of the German welfare organizations. Contact details of your nearest counselling centre are available on the website of the Asylum Information Network.
- The German Red Cross Tracing Service also provides expert advice on family reunification. You can contact the Tracing Service at https://www.drk-suchdienst.de/en/how-we-help/reuniting/.
- Please be informed that UNHCR in Germany does not offer individual counselling on family reunification.
If you do not know where your family is or you cannot contact them, you can also approach the DRK (German Red Cross) tracing service at https://www.drk-suchdienst.de/en/how-we-help/tracing/.
Who is eligible for reunification with a family member who is granted protection in Germany?
If your family members are still outside the European Union (EU), they may be able to join you if you have been granted protection, for instance:
- If you have been officially recognised as a refugee in Germany, your wife or husband, as well as your children below the age of 18 can join you. If your children are already adults, they will only be allowed to join you in exceptional cases. If you yourself are under 18 years of age, your parents can join you in Germany.
- If you entered Germany through a resettlement programme, you are granted family reunification under the same conditions as recognised refugees.
- If you were recognised in Germany as in need of subsidiary protection, family reunification is possible under special regulations that are in place since 1 August 2018: Subject to these special regulations, members of the nuclear family, i.e. spouses, unmarried minors and parents of minors are eligible for family reunification. There is no entitlement to family reunification and only 1,000 visa for relatives of individuals with subsidiary protection are issued per month. The family must qualify for the “humanitarian case” category and integration aspects also have to be taken into account.
- If you entered Germany through a humanitarian admission programme, your family is only allowed to join you for humanitarian reasons or for reasons of international law Being related is not a sufficient reason, as it is for recognised refugees. The overall difficult situation in your country of origin would have to affect your family more than others in order to be considered for family reunification.
If your family members are inside the EU: The asylum applications of close family members should not be examined in different EU member states. If members of your core family (spouse and underage children) are already staying within the European Union or in Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Iceland, a reunification with them is therefore already possible during the asylum-seeking process.
How to apply for family reunification?
If you have been officially recognised as a refugee in Germany or entered Germany through a resettlement programme:
- Your family members abroad will have to file an application at the German diplomatic mission in your country of origin or at another responsible embassy/consulate. You can find the contact details of German embassies around the world on this website.
- It is important that you start the application process within three months of being officially recognised as a refugee. In order to meet this deadline it is sufficient to file a so-called timely notification with the responsible Aliens Authority of the family member in Germany. You can find contact details of your nearest Immigration Office on this website. There can be serious consequences if you do not meet this deadline. For example, if you do not have an apartment that is large enough for all family members or cannot fund life for your family in Germany, the Aliens Authority is then no longer obligated to facilitate family reunification for you and your family in Germany.
Further information regarding applications can be found on the website of the Federal Foreign Office.
If your family members abroad require help in filing the application, they can seek counselling from the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) in Afghanistan, Egypt, Ethiopia, Iraq, Jordan, Kenya, Lebanon, Sudan and Turkey. Contact details can be found here and further information on assistance provided by IOM is available here.