Do all refugees in Germany have the right to be reunited with their family members?

Who is allowed to bring which family members to Germany? ©dpa

Whether or not relatives can be reunited with you depends first and foremost on your own current legal status in Germany. Persons who are entitled to asylum or refugee protection may be reunited with their immediate family members. Applications for family reunification should, if possible, therefore be submitted within three months of your protective status being recognized.

From 1 August 2018, those who are granted subsidiary protection in Germany may also be reunited with immediate family members. Subsidiary protection is granted to those who are not persecuted personally in their country of origin, for example for political reasons or because they belong to a religious community, but who are nevertheless at risk of serious harm – for example as a result of a civil war such as in Syria. Subsidiary protection is initially limited to one year and may be extended afterwards. The number of family members of persons eligible for subsidiary protection who may reunite in Germany is limited to 1000 people per month. Therefore, by no means every family can be reunited immediately.

Persons whose protection status has not yet been definitively determined may not be reunited with their family members.

Generally speaking, only members of the nuclear family are entitled to family reunification. The nuclear family includes spouses and minor children. However, further restrictions apply. For instance, a requirement for the subsequent immigration of spouses to those eligible for subsidiary protection is that the marriage was entered into prior to their displacement.

In different locations, support is available should family reunification be a realistic possibility. The International Organization for Migration (IOM) assists family members of beneficiaries of protection when emigrating to Germany under the Family Assistance Programme (FAP). IOM has established family support centres in Istanbul, Beirut, Erbil and Amman. Visiting an IOM family support centre may speed up processing of the visa application because people receive support, e.g. in preparing the necessary documents. This may also help to shorten the time until a family member might leave for Germany. In Istanbul, IOM also offers advice prior to submitting an application at the German Consulate General.

In general, those who wish to reunite must submit their application to the German Embassy or Consulate responsible for them. This is only possible if you have booked an appointment beforehand! Please note that the German missions abroad also offer important information on their homepages about how to book an appointment and which documents you need to organise in advance. Unfortunately, waiting times can be long, as the German missions abroad continue to have large numbers of applications to process.

Further information in German, English and Arabic is available at the following link:

Last updated: 30.09.2020 Published: 01.08.2018