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The family reunion provisions allow qualifying family members (spouse or partner and children under the age of 18, who formed part of the family unit before their sponsor fled their country) to be reunited with a family member who has been granted refugee status or humanitarian protection in the UK, unless the applicant and/or the family member should be excluded from protection or criminality thresholds apply.

The family reunion provisions allow qualifying family members (spouse or partner and children under the age of 18, who formed part of the family unit before their sponsor fled their country) to be reunited with a family member who has been granted refugee status or humanitarian protection in the UK, unless the applicant and/or the family member should be excluded from protection or criminality thresholds apply. See General grounds for refusal for more information.

This policy recognises that families can become fragmented because of the nature of conflict and persecution and the speed and manner in which those seeking asylum are often forced to flee their country of origin. The policy is intended to allow those currently recognised as refugees or granted humanitarian protection in the UK to sponsor pre-flight, immediate family members to join them here.

Family reunion applications should ordinarily be made from outside the UK. However, the Immigration Rules also allow for in-country applications.

Immediate family members are defined in the Immigration Rules as a spouse or partner and children under the age of 18, who formed part of the family unit before their refugee sponsor fled their country of origin or former habitual residence to claim asylum in the UK.

For the purposes of family reunion the sponsor is the individual who has refugee status or humanitarian protection.

Family reunion applications can be made from abroad by making an entry clearance application or from within the UK. Those granted under family reunion provisions are granted leave in line with their sponsor and are entitled to the same rights and benefits.

Applications made outside the UK

Those who wish to join family members in the UK under family reunion provisions should apply for entry clearance using the on-line application system.

Successful applicants should be aware that family reunion entry clearance visas are only valid for 30 days and they must travel to the UK within this 30 day validity period or the visa will expire. If an applicant needs longer to make travel preparations, they should make clear on the application form the earliest date they intend to travel to the UK so that the visa can be issued to start on that day. Applicants should give themselves enough time to make travel arrangements when completing the application form.

Applications made in the UK

Applications for family reunion made in the UK should be made by writing to UKVI and the letter should include the following information:

  • the sponsor’s full name, date of birth, nationality and Home Office reference number
  • 2 passport sized photographs of each applicant
  • valid passport for each applicant (where possible)
  • a statement from the sponsor, setting out who is in their family, giving names and dates of birth, how they came to leave their family behind, what contact they have had with their family whilst separated, what contact they have with their family currently and what circumstances their family is living in
  • any supporting documentary evidence available – see the section in this guidance on ‘Evidence’

Where an original document is not available

Where original documents are not available to submit with an application, such as a passport or marriage certificate, because they have been lost or they could not be issued due to there being no authority to issue in the country the sponsor and their family have left, the onus will be on the applicant to provide a reasonable alternative and explanation of their absence, including any attempts to obtain them, and to satisfactorily demonstrate they are related as claimed to their sponsor.

Adopted children

Where a sponsor has requested family reunion for a child adopted pre-flight, the sponsor must be able to demonstrate that they hold an adoption order, and that it was granted either by the administrative authority in the third country, or by a court which has the legal power to decide such applications.

The adoption order should have been issued in the child’s country of origin, or where the child is living. Caseworkers should ensure that the adoption order issued overseas is recognised as valid for the purposes of UK law. 

Need a legal advice?

UK immigration law is extremely complex and constantly changes. The UKVI has strict criteria relating to different types of visa. Therefore, it is essential you get the right legal advice from an expert UK immigration lawyer to make sure your application is successful, first time. We will guide you through every step of the process, putting you in the best place possible to get a good result.

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