The protection of family unity is an important human right. If you were separated from your family before or during your journey, you may initiate a family reunification procedure which allows them to join you in Portugal, 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.
Please note that the below procedure refers to family reunification of family members who are OUTSIDE of the European Union. For family members inside the European Union, the Dublin Regulation applies. Please click here for more information on the Dublin Regulation.
Who is eligible for family reunification?
➡️ If you are a refugee or a beneficiary of subsidiary protection in Portugal, you are allowed to reunify with the following members of your family:
- Your spouse or unmarried partner (both must be at least 18 years old), including same-sex partner, if the relationship is regarded as a sustainable relationship. The family formation does not have to pre-date entry to Portugal.
- Your underage children (including adopted children) if they are dependant on you and/or on your spouse/unmarried partner, regardless of your marital status.
- The underage children of your spouse/unmarried partner (including adopted children), regardless of your marital status.
- Your adult children who lack legal capacity (e.g. for reasons of mental health) and are dependent on you and/or on your spouse/unmarried partner.
- Your parents, in case you are under 18 years old. If you do not have parents, you can apply for family reunification with an adult responsible for you (e.g. legal guardian, grandparents or other family members).
➡️If you are an asylum seeker in Portugal, you are not eligible for family reunification until you are granted international protection.
Financial requirements: As a refugee, or beneficiary of subsidiary protection, you do not need to prove means of subsistence or have any minimum income in order to be able to reunify with your family members in Portugal.
However, please note that, as an applicant, you need to cover all the costs related to the process, such as, issuance of visas, travel insurance, travel tickets, translation and authentication fees, etc).
If you do not know where your family is or you cannot contact them, you can contact the Portuguese Red Cross, a National Society of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, which provides support in family tracing:
- The Portuguese Red Cross
- E-mail [email protected],
- Call +351 213 913 935, or +351 967 071 359 (mobile phone)
How can I apply for family reunification?
➡️Place and cost of application:
- The family reunification procedure is initiated by the applicant residing in Portugal. Applications are not accepted at Portuguese embassies.
- If the family member that the applicant wants to reunite with is living abroad at the time of application, the applicant must apply in person at the Immigration and Borders Service (SEF)’s regional office in his/her area of residence in Portugal. Visit SEF’s website to find the regional office covering your area of residence.
- If the family member is in Portugal at the time of application, the applicant or that family member must apply for family reunification at SEF’s Refugee and Asylum Office (GAR) in Lisbon, Portugal.
- The application process is free of charge.
Important: Please note that this information is orientative and does not replace an individual consultation. It is recommended that you seek individual legal support for the purpose of family reunification (see contacts in the below section “Who can help me in the family reunification process?”)
➡️Documents: All official documents need to be certified by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the country that issued them and legalized by the Portuguese embassy covering the area of residence of the family members to be reunited, prior to submission to SEF. Documents in languages other than Portuguese, English, Spanish and French need to be translated. The following official documents need to be presented by the applicant residing in Portugal:
- Certified copy of the Travel Document of the family member/s;
- Criminal record of the family member/s (country of nationality and any country of residence where the family member/s lived for over 1 year);
- Where applicable, statement of parental authorization from the other parent, if not travelling with the child;
- Death certificate of other parent of the child or evidence of sole legal guardianship if original death certificate is not obtainable (if applicable).
- Documents proving family links (in the absence of official documents to demonstrate family relations, other types of proof should be taken into consideration; lack of documents proving family links cannot be ground for rejection of an application):
- Spouses: marriage certificate;
- Children: birth certificate, decision of adoption duly recognized by a national authority (if applicable); proof of legal incapacity of adult child (if applicable);
- Other adults in charge of an unaccompanied minor: decision of guardianship duly recognized by a national authority.
➡️ Timeframe and steps:
- The application should be decided within 3 months, with possible extension for an additional 3 months if the delay is duly justified by the complexity of the case. In case of extension of the deadline, the applicant should be informed of the reason.
- In the absence of a decision within 6 months, counting from the date of the application and unless the applicant bears responsibility for the delay (e.g. unanswered request for additional information and/or documents), the application is deemed automatically accepted.
- Upon acceptance of the family reunification application by SEF, the family member(s) have 90 days to apply for a residence visa at the Portuguese embassy covering the country of their habitual residence (the relevant embassy will be indicated by the authorities).
- In cases where there is no Portuguese embassy located in the country of habitual residence of the family members, the responsible embassy has the possibility of granting a special authorisation so that visas can be issued without the physical presence of the applicant. Please note that this authorisation is granted at the discretion of the responsible embassy.
- The family member(s) are required to present proof of travel insurance (covering medical expenses, emergency hospitalization, and repatriation for health reasons) and to pay for the visa.
- The applicant and the family member(s) are responsible for covering the costs of travel to Portugal.
Who can help me in the family reunification process?
In Portugal, you can seek assistance and individual counselling free of charge from the following organisation:
- Portuguese Refugee Council (CPR)
For more information on legal aid providers, see “Do you need legal support” section.