If you are in Greece and your close family member lives legally in another European country, you may be able to join them.
Most European countries have agreed to follow a set of rules called the “Dublin III” Regulation. Dublin III determines which European State is responsible for examining your asylum application. The countries that follow “Dublin III” rules (so-called “Dublin III” countries) are:
- The Czech Republic
- The Netherlands
The information on this page is about Family Reunification to Dublin III countries only.
If you want to join a close family member in a country not on the list of Dublin III countries, contact a legal aid organization for advice.
Who can apply
If your close family member is living legally in another Dublin III country, you might be able to join them. The rules are slightly different in each Dublin III country.
If you are under 18 and in Greece without your family, generally you can ask to join a:
- Brother or sister
- Uncle or aunt
- Grandfather or grandmother
You may have to undergo an age assessment procedure.
Turning 18 while you wait for Family Reunification may affect your request, depending on the country where your family member lives. Ask a legal aid organization for advice about your case.
People who are 18 or older generally can ask to join their:
- Husband or wife
- child who is under 18 and not married
- Life partner (but only in some Dublin III countries)
Sometimes, under rare circumstances, people who don’t meet these criteria can join family in other Dublin III countries. Ask a legal aid organization for advice about your specific case.
The process on the Greek islands
If you are on an island and you have applied for Family Reunification you do not have to go through the Fast-Track Border procedure and, according to the policy, your case is considered admissible.
But in reality, some asylum-seekers have to go through an “admissibility” interview, even though they had applied for Family Reunification.
Vulnerable people, children and families accepted for Family Reunification may eventually be transferred from the islands to the mainland.
How to apply
- Apply for asylum in Greece. Start with Registration. During Pre-Registration, tell the Asylum Service you want to apply for Family Reunification.
- Attend your Registration appointment. Bring hard copies of every document listed here, including your family member’s letter of consent and anything that helps prove your relationship.
After you apply
- At your Full Registration appointment, the Greek Asylum Service decides if your request for Family Reunification is likely to be successful.
- If it thinks your request will be successful, the Asylum Service has 3 months to ask the country where your family member lives to take charge of your asylum application.
- The country where your family member lives has 2 months to decide if it will take charge of your asylum application.
- If the country where your family member lives decides to take over your asylum application, Greece has 6 months to send you there.
- Once you have joined your family member in the country where they live, you will have an asylum interview in that country.
If the Greek Asylum Service or the other country rejects your Family Reunification request, your asylum application will be processed as an application for asylum in Greece.
How long it takes
Under the current rules, your Family Reunification flight should be within 11 months of your Full Registration appointment. But in practice, it takes longer. There are long delays for certain countries — especially Germany.
BREXIT AND FAMILY REUNIFICATION TO THE UK
Brexit refers to the fact that the UK has left the EU. This means that since 31 December 2020, the Dublin III Regulations no longer apply to the UK and people cannot apply for family reunification to or from the UK under the Dublin system. The UK has not put in place anything to replace the Dublin system, closing off safe and legal routes to reunification for a significant number of family members in Greece each year.
This means the only option now available to family members in Greece seeking reunification in the UK is to make a visa application under UK immigration law. The categories of family member who can apply are narrower than under Dublin, and the criteria that applicants need to satisfy are stricter. It is difficult, if not impossible, to make an application without assistance from a UK immigration lawyer.
You can reach at the REFUGEE LEGAL SUPPORT (RLS) – UK FAMILY REUNIFICATION PROJECT to get information and assistance in family reunification cases.