Family Reunification (Refugee and Subsidiary Protection)
Family reunification rights for refugees and persons eligible for subsidiary protection are contained in sections 56 and 57 of the International Protection Act 2015. If you have been granted refugee status or subsidiary protection status, you have the right to apply for certain family members to join you in Ireland. Programme refugees are also able to apply for family reunification.
The Minister for Justice has confirmed in a Parliamentary Question that these rights also apply to refugees who enter the State through the IHAP programme.
Who may I apply for family reunification with?
If you are an adult, you have the right to apply for a husband/wife or civil partner and any children you have who are under 18 and unmarried. You must be able to prove that your marriage or civil partnership took place before you applied for asylum. If you are under 18, you have the right to apply for your parents and any of your brothers or sisters who are under 18 and unmarried. You must make the application within 12 months of being granted status.
Guylaine and her 5-year-old son Pierre were declared refugees in November 2018. Guylaine and Pierre left behind Pierre's father Jean and Jean's daughter from a previous relationship, Marvine when they fled to Ireland from the Democratic of Congo. Guylaine and Pierre want to be reunited with their whole family in Ireland. Guylaine and Jean are not married.
The family reunification rules mean that Guylaine cannot apply on her own behalf for reunification with either Jean or Marvine.. However, 5-old Pierre has a right to apply for his father and his siblings. This means that Guylaine can submit an application on Pierre's behalf for Jean and Marvine. Guylaine needs to ensure that she submits the application before Marvine turns 18 and before 12 months has elapsed since Pierre was granted refugee status.
If you would like to apply for family reunification but you cannot find your family member, the Irish Red Cross and their Restoring Family Links unit may be able to assist you. Learn more about their tracing and other services here.
How do I apply?
Within 12 months of being granted status, you can make your application in writing to:
Family Reunification Unit
Immigration Service Delivery
Department of Justice
13-14 Burgh Quay
Dublin 2 D02 XK70
Your application can be a short letter, including your name, address and Person ID Number explaining that you would like to apply for family reunification. You will need to include the following details for each family member you are applying for:
- Full Name
- Relationship to you (example husband, wife, daughter, son, brother, sister)
- Date of birth
- Current Address
See here for a sample letter.
Once the Immigration Service Delivery (ISD) receives your application, they will send you a detailed questionnaire to complete and a request for documents. Sometimes you may not be able to get all of the documentation requested. This often happens and does not mean that your application will be automatically refused. You can write to ISD and explain what documents you are missing and why you cannot get them. The most important documents to try to get, if you or your family members can do so safely, are your family member(s)’ passport or ID Card and evidence of their relationship to you eg marriage certificate or birth certificate.
Once you have completed and returned the questionnaire, the ISD will investigate the application and may write to you with more questions or with requests for more documentation. It is important that you respond to these letters. If you are applying for family reunification with children, you may be asked if you would consent to DNA testing with your children to prove that they are your biological children.
If the application is granted you will receive a letter informing you that your family member(s) have been granted permission to enter and reside in Ireland. The letter will also contain information on how to apply for visas for your family so that they can travel to Ireland. It is very important that your family members enter Ireland within 12 months of the permission being granted. It is your responsibility to make all of the arrangements for your family member(s)’s travel and arrival in Ireland.
You can find more information on the family reunification process on the ISD website.
My family have arrived. What next?
Under Irish law, your family members have many of the same rights as you (the refugee or person eligible for subsidiary protection) do. They have the same rights in terms of access to employment, education, training, housing, social welfare and medical care as an Irish citizen. Once your family arrive in the State, they will be given a ‘landing stamp’ in their passport or travel document which will typically give them an initial permission to stay in Ireland for 90 days and your family members who are over 16 will be advised to go to a Registration Office before that 90 days expires to get an Irish Residence Permit.
The location of your registration office depends on your address. In Dublin registration appointments are made via an online booking system available here. For all other counties in Ireland, you can attend your local registration office which is normally located in a Garda Station. For a list of the main registration offices see here. In line with Covid-19 restrictions you will need to email your local office to make an appointment.
The next step is to apply for PPS numbers for your family. If your family member(s) are under 18, you may be asked to provide a letter from their school in Ireland. You can find details of your nearest PPS office here.
If you need any assistance or information about your family reunification rights, you can contact Nasc's legal team via phone on 0214273594.