Family reunification for people granted refugee status or subsidiary protection
A person who has international protection (refugee status or subsidiary protection) in Ireland can apply to the Minister for Justice and Equality for permission to have a member of their family enter and live in the State. Since 31 December 2016, the International Protection Act 2015 sets out their right to apply for family reunification.
Under sections 56 and 57 of the Act, you may apply to the Minister if you have a current declaration as a convention refugee or a programme refugee or if you have a current subsidiary protection declaration.
People with permission to remain do not have a right to family reunification. However, they may apply to have a member of their family join them in Ireland. There is no legal definition as to who is a member of the family for people with permission to remain. However, it is likely that such a definition would be similar to that of a person with refugee status or subsidiary protection.
A member of the family in relation to a person who has refugee status or subsidiary protection (known as “the sponsor”) means:
- Spouse or civil partner – provided that the marriage or civil partnership is in existence when the application for international protection is made
- Parent(s) – if the sponsor is aged under 18 and is not married on the date the application for family reunification is made
- Parents’ children (aged under 18 and not married) if the sponsor is aged under 18 and not married on the date the application for family reunification is made
- Child who is aged under 18 and not married on the date the application for family reunification is made
You must apply within 12 months of being granted a refugee or a subsidiary protection declaration or from the date of your arrival in Ireland as a programme refugee.
You apply for permission for your family member (s) either:
- To enter and reside in the State if they are living outside the State
- To reside in the State if they are already in the State on the date of your application
How to apply
A sponsor in Ireland who wishes to make an application to have a family member join them must apply in writing to the Family Reunification Section of the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) - see 'Where to apply' below. Details of the documents required and the application process are in frequently asked questions on family reunification on the INIS website.
The sponsor will receive a letter from INIS informing them whether the application was successful. If the request for family reunification has been granted, the family member living abroad should then apply online for a visa to join the family member in Ireland. There is information about family reunification for refugees on the INIS website.
The person who enters and resides in the State as a result of family reunification is entitled to remain in the State and to the same rights and privileges as a person who has international protection for as long as the refugee or sponsor who made the application is entitled to remain in the State.
Where to apply