Family Reunion Factsheet

Family Reunion Factsheet

An adult with refugee or Humanitarian Protection status is entitled to apply to the Home Office for their immediate family members (husband, wife, children under the age of 18) to join them in the UK.  This is called ‘Family Reunion’.

The facts:

Who can apply?
Those granted Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) have the right to apply for family reunion. Those granted Humanitarian Protection (HP), or Leave to Enter/ Remain (LTE/LTR) on or after 30 August 2005 may also apply. Those granted Discretionary Leave to Remain (DLR) do not have the automatic right to do so. 

How to apply
The person in the UK needs to apply to the Home Office and at the same time the immediate family member abroad must apply to the UK embassy or High Commission in their country to join their family in the UK.  They should not be charged for a visa.

How long does it take?
Whilst family reunion rights are effective as soon as a person is granted ILR, HP, LTE or LTR, in practice it can be a very difficult and lengthy process.  It is advisable for the main applicant to seek legal advice throughout the process.

Other family members:
Family reunion does not apply to parents, brothers and sisters or any other relatives.  However, in exceptional circumstances the family can submit a special application to the HO.  If this is the case the person with refugee or HP status will need to provide detailed reasons as to why their relative needs to join them.
Those who have DLR or have had ELR for less than 4 years can still apply for family reunion, but only if there are compelling compassionate circumstances. Very occasionally the Home Office will grant family reunion, for example, if a dependent child wants to join their parents.

Useful Contacts

British Red Cross     
The Red Cross provides a service to help Refugees trace and message their families. It also works in collaboration with the UNHCR and the Border and Immigration Agency to provide a travel assistance service to refugees, enabling family reunification.   
Direct Tel:  020 7877 7292 / 7294       
E-mail: familyreunion@redcross.org.uk

The Border and Immigration Agency
Legal Advice 
Refugees may wish to seek legal assistance and advice. The below websites provide information and contact details for organisations that provide free, confidential advice:

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