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.
Requests for family reunification are handled by the Immigration Department. This takes normally 9 months but this delay can be extended in some cases.
Apply for family reunification within the first year after obtaining refugee status or subsidiary protection. After 1 year, you need to meet additional conditions:
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:
Your spouse, registered partner or children, or your spouse or partners children must not constitute a danger for public health, pub
The procedure takes between 9 and 15 months. You can apply for family reunification from abroad or from Belgium.
Note: the visa does not mean that your application for family reunification has been approved!
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:
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.