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Pictogram Freedom-seeker

CHercheur.euse de liberté

Pictogram Homeless person


Pictogram Asylum seeker


Pictogram Asylum seeker

Demandeur.euse.s de protection internationale

Pictogram Refugee


Pictogram Refugee


Pictogram Professional


Pictogram Professional



The protection of family unity is an important human right. If you have been separated from your family members before or during your flight, they may be entitled to join you in Belgium under a more favorable legal regime, and subject to a number of conditions.

If you have been recognised as a refugee or have received subsidiary protection in Belgium, the members of your immediate family can obtain the right to reside in Belgium through the family reunification procedure.

If the members of your immediate family are not in Belgium, they can ask for a ‘family reunification visa’ at the Belgian diplomatic or consular representation in the country where they live. If they are already in Belgium, they have to start the family reunification procedure at the municipal office of the town where they are staying.

Request for family reunification

Requests for family reunification are handled by the Immigration Department. This takes normally 9 months but this delay can be extended in some cases.

Who is eligible for family reunification?

  • Your spouse or registered partner, if you are both at least 21 years old. If your marriage or partnership was concluded before your arrival in Belgium, you have to be at least 18 years old.
  • Your children under 18 who live alone and are dependent on you or on your spouse or partner.
  • Your disabled child over 18 who lives alone, or that of your spouse or partner, on condition that a doctor approved by the Belgian diplomatic or consular representation issues a certificate stating that your child cannot provide for itself.
  • Your parents, if you are under 18 (minor) and arrived in Belgium without being accompanied by an adult who is responsible for you.

When to apply for family reunification

Apply for family reunification within the first year after obtaining refugee status or subsidiary protection. After 1 year, you need to meet additional conditions:

  • Sufficient accommodation for your family
  • Adequate means of subsistence (a wage)
  • Health insurance

Conditions for family reunification

Before your family can come to Belgium, a number of conditions must be met. You must request documents in Belgium and in your country of origin, and have them translated. The most important of these are:

  • Travel documents
  • Birth certificate
  • Marriage certificate
  • Criminal record extract
  • Medical certificates

Your spouse, registered partner or children, or your spouse or partners children must not constitute a danger for public health, pub

Procedure of family reunification

The procedure takes between 9 and 15 months. You can apply for family reunification from abroad or from Belgium.

  • From abroad: You need to submit your application at the Belgian embassy. The Immigration Office will decide whether your family member can obtain a visa. With a visa, your family can travel to Belgium. Please note: the visa does not mean that your application for family reunification has been approved!
  • From Belgium: If your family is already in Belgium, you need to submit the application with the municipality where you are registered. The municipality will send your application to the Immigration Office. The Immigration Office will take a decision.
Note: the visa does not mean that your application for family reunification has been approved!

Helpful organisations

Family reunification is a bit complicated and expensive with several strict rules. Ask for legal advice before submitting an application. A lawyer and following organisations will aid:

  • CAW
  • Caritas
  • Myria

Family reunification for LGBTQIA+ individuals

Family reunification rights also count for same-sex couples. However, Rainbow families face many issues due to unjust discrimination. 

The Strasbourg-based European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) ruled in February 2016 that refusing same-sex couples residence permits with the purpose of family reunification on the basis of their sexual orientation is discriminatory.

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