Family reunification

Remember to apply for family reunification within 3 months of being granted status in Germany. There can be serious consequences if you do not meet this deadline (? see details below ?). Further, it is important to seek individual counselling and assistance in the family reunification procedure (? see contact details below ?).

The protection of family unity is an important human right. If you were separated from your family before or during your flight, you may apply for them to join you in Germany, under specific conditions. Whether your family can join you ultimately depends on the type of legal status you are granted and the nature of your relationship.

Who can help you in the family reunification process?

In Germany, you can seek assistance and individual counselling free of charge from the following advice centres:

Asylum Information Network

  • The Asylum Information Network is a network of welfare organisations and NGOs and a partner to UNHCR in Germany and provides inter alia relevant information and addresses on the following topics:
    • Asylum process
    • Residence, immigration and social rights
    • Access to education and work
    • Family reunification
    • Return
    • Psycho-social support and medical care
  • The organisations also offer specialised counseling services. You can find contact details of the counselling centre closest to you on the Asylum Information Network website by selecting the preferred city/postal code, language and/or topic. The service is free of charge.

German Red Cross Tracing Service

The German Red Cross Tracing Service also provides advice on family reunification.

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.

If you are a refugee or asylum-seeker in Egypt, Ethiopia, Libya or Sudan, aiming to reunite with your family in Germany, you can reach out to the UNHCR family reunification focal points in these locations. Contact details and further information are available on this Telling the Real Story webpage.

Who is eligible for family reunification?

If you are a refugee in Germany (after applying for asylum in Germany or following admission to Germany through a refugee resettlement programme) you may apply for your immediate family members to join you in Germany.  Immediate family members include:

  • Spouse: wife, husband or same-sex partner (in some circumstances).  Restrictions apply to married children (under 18 years-old) and marriages involving more than one husband or wife.
  • Children: unmarried children (under 18-years old).  If the child is not your biological child, you will need to show that you legally adopted the child and that the adoption did not occur for the purposes of family reunification.
  • Parents: only if you are a child (under 18-years old).
  • All other family members, such as siblings, adult children or grandparents will only be allowed to join you in exceptional cases, for example in cases of dependency because of disabilities or severe illness, and where no other person can support that person in another country.

If you were recognised in Germany as in need of subsidiary protection, you may apply for family reunification under special regulations.  According to these regulations:

  • you may apply for your: spouse, unmarried children (under 18-years old) and parents (if you are a child under 18 years-old).
  • Your family members must qualify for the “humanitarian case category”.  This means:
    • you have been separated for a long time, or
    • one member of the family is a child (under 18 years-old), or
    • the life, physical integrity or liberty of you family members outside Germany are in danger, or
    • a member of your family is affected by a serious illness, disability or is in need or permanent care.
  • the German authorities will also consider how easily your family will integrate into the community in Germany.

A maximum of 1,000 visas are issued each month to family members of individuals in Germany with subsidiary protection.

If you entered Germany through a humanitarian admission programme, your family is generally not allowed to join you.  They will only be granted family reunification with you if exceptional humanitarian reasons apply. The German authorities will consider the situation of your family and whether they are facing exceptional difficulties.

If you are an asylum-seeker in Germany, you may not apply for family reunification until you have been granted legal status to stay in Germany.

Important: To be eligible for family reunification your family must have existed before you entered Germany (except in some exceptional circumstances).

Important: If your family members are currently inside the European Union you should not wait until you are granted legal status in Germany before applying to reunify with them. You should apply to reunify with your family according to the Dublin Regulation so that your applications for asylum are considered together, in the same country.

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 in the country where they are living. 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 document called a  “timely notification” with the responsible aliens authority in Germany. You can find contact details of your nearest aliens authority on this website. There can be serious consequences if you do not meet this deadline. You may have to prove that you have sufficient income and accommodation to maintain your family in order to reunite with them. If you cannot show this, then the German authorities may reject your application for family reunification. You do  not have to prove sufficient income or accommodation if you apply within the 3 month deadline.

Further information on family reunification

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. Find contact details of IOM here and further information on assistance provided by IOM is available here.

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