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Family Reunification

FRUFamily reunification is a core component of Doras Luimní’s work and it is a crucial element of refugee rights under the international protection system.

Doras Luimní advocate for a less-restrictive policy regarding refugee family reunification rights. Prior to the introduction of the new International Protection Act, Doras Luimní – along with our partners in the Irish Refugee Council, Migrant Rights Centre of Ireland and Nasc – called for family reunification rights to be extended and ultimately called for the Bill to be withdrawn (Read our joint press statement here).

The International Protection Act (2015) came into effect on 31st December 2016. The procedure and statutory framework for the assessment of applications for family reunification for recognised refugees has regrettably been restricted as a result of this new legislation
[More information on the International Protection Act].

Key Changes for new family reunification applicants

Note – Current applicants (applied before 31st December 2016):

  • If your application was submitted before before 31st December 2016 (before the commencement of the IP Act 2015), your application will be processed under the old law/ system – the amended Refugee Act 1996.New applicants (applied after 31st December 2016) or those considering making an application for family reunification will be processed under the IP Act 2015.

Who can apply for family reunification?

  • Convention Refugee (came through asylum system in Ireland) or Programme Refugee (refugee Resettlement programme);
  • Beneficiary of Subsidiary Protection;
  • People granted permission to remain can also apply but they do not have a right to family reunification.
    [There is no legal definition as to who is a member of the family for people with permission to remain but it is likely that a similar categorisation,  to that of a person with refugee status or subsidiary protection, would be applied].

Which Family Members are Eligible for Family Reunification under the IP Act 2015?

Section 56 defines a member of the family as the Sponsors:

  • Spouse – you must have been married before the date you made an application for asylum/ international protection in Ireland.
  • Civil partner – your civil partnership must have taken place before the date you made an application for asylum/ international protection in Ireland.
  • If you are aged under 18 and are not married on the date you make an application for family reunification in Ireland, you can apply for your Parent(s) and their children (under 18 and not married).
  • Child/ children who are aged under 18 years and not married when you make an application for family reunification in the Ireland.

How Long will a Family Member’s Permission Last? 

  • Family members will be given permission to enter and/or reside in the State for not less than one year, provided the sponsor’s permission is in force and the sponsor is entitled to remain in the State.

Is There a Time Limit for Making an Application for Family Reunification under the IP Act 2015?

Yes. You must make your application within 12 months of being granted a refugee declaration, a subsidiary protection declaration or from the date of your arrival in Ireland as a Programme Refugee. For example, if your date of your arrival in Ireland as a Programme Refugee is 2nd June 2017, The Minister must have received your application on or before 1st June 2018.

How do I apply for family reunification?

Applications should be made in writing to the Family Reunification Section of the INIS (Family Reunification Section, Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service, 13-14 Burgh Quay,
Dublin 2).

Contact us in Doras Luimní or an immigration legal professional for advice and assistance with the application and questionnaire, before you submit your documents.

If your application for Family Reunification is successful, your family member(s) will then need to apply for a visa to enter Ireland. The visa application should not be made until Family Reunification has been granted and Passport or Travel Documents have been obtained. The visa application should be submitted to the Irish Embassy or Consulate in or accredited to your family member’s country of residence. Details of all Irish Embassies can be found on

Note: EU/ EEA citizens also have the legal right to apply for certain non-EEA family members to join them in Ireland. Procedures for applying for family reunification by an EU/ EEA citizen for a non-EU citizen are different to the details above. Please see the EU Treaty Rights Section of INIS for more information or contact us in Doras Luimní.

Full details are available at INIS website


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