Can I apply for family reunification?

Which family members can join me in Germany?

According to the German family asylum law, only close family members who can join you here, including:

Otherwise, minor siblings and other family members can only join you in Germany in cases of "extraordinary hardship" ("außergewöhnliche Härte") . In these sporadic cases, there is the possibility to apply for a visa according to § 36 paragraph 2 or § 22 Residence Act. This possibility is often called "hardship case" ("Härtefallregelung")- it is an emergency clause of the residence act. In practice, it is quite tricky to get a visa for the family members using this law. There must be an immediate danger to the life and limb of the family member in question. And you must meet many prerequisites, e.g. being able to secure their livelihood. To learn more, seek advice from a counselling centre or a qualified lawyer.

What are the requirements for family reunification?

Residence Permit: As the initial requirement, your entitlement to asylum or refugee protection (according to Geneva Convention) must have been recognized in Germany- which means you should have a legal residence permit. Individuals who are entitled to subsidiary protection can also apply for family reunification.

If you apply for family reunification within three months from the granting of your residence status, your family members would be able to join you under easier conditions ("privileged family reunification"). That means that you do not have to prove that you are making enough money to feed your family or that your home is big enough to accommodate them. In the case of privileged family reunification, your income will not be checked.

If the privileged family reunion does not apply to you, your family can only come to Germany if you can secure their livelihood, i.e. if you have enough money and an apartment in Germany. Your income must be enough for you and your family members- that's why your income will be checked before permitting the family reunification. Besides, having health insurance is necessary for you and your family members. One can apply for a family insurance that covers all family members.

Proof of Relationship:

1.     To bring your wife or husband to Germany:

2.     As a minor who is single, your parents or another adult who holds your custody can join you in Germany. This law applies to you, if:

Language Skills: Your family members do not need to have German language skills to join you in Germany.

Where and how should I apply for family reunification?

Your family members should submit their application for family reunification in person to the responsible German embassy or general consulate in your home country or the country where your family reside. They have to make an appointment and hand-in all the required papers. You should also personally apply to the relevant Immigration Office (“Ausländerbehörde”), where you are expected to present all the necessary documents. Read the next section to learn which you need.  

You must personally notify the relevant Immigration Office that you intend to bring your family to Germany. You can inform them per fax or via the website of the German Foreign Ministry. Such a notice is known as  „fristwahrende Anzeige“. Remember you need to keep the letter or the confirmation you receive from the website somewhere safe. You must send the notice („fristwahrende Anzeige“) within three months from the date you have been granted your status; then and only then your family can join you in Germany under eased pre-conditions (the so-called „privilegierter Familiennachzug“). If you have been granted subsidiary protection after 17.03. 2016, this three-month period will start from 1. August 2018.

If your family member is a Syrian citizen, their application should be submitted online via

After the submission of the application, the German embassy or consulate will send it to the responsible Foreigner's Registration Office inside Germany. The Foreigners’ Registration Office (“Ausländerbehörde”) will then check whether the conditions for family reunification are met and react to the application. This procedure often takes many months, sometimes even more than a year. If the immigration office agrees, your family will receive a visa and can legally travel to Germany. Immediately after arrival, your family members must apply for a residence permit for familial reasons (at the relevant Immigration Office) or family asylum ("Familienasyl").

Which documents should my family submit in their appointment at German embassy?

Some of these documents must be certified by the German Embassy; i.e. their authenticity must be confirmed. The certification process can take place during the appointment.

The embassy may request further documents from you. For more information, make sure you check the website of the relevant embassy before the appointment.

What if the immigration office rejects my application for family reunification?

When the Foreigners’ Registration Office rejects your application for family reunification, they are obliged to send you a letter and justify their decision. They may do so, for instance, because they suspect the marriage is fictitious. The German diplomatic mission (Embassy or Consulate General) then will refuse to issue a visa for your relatives. Then, you will have two options:

Where can I get help?

The German laws of residence are very complicated. Therefore, you should seek help from a lawyer. You can find specialised asylum lawyers at  The PRO ASYL organisation also offers legal advice to refugees and asylum seekers. If you can't afford a lawyer, you can apply at the Refugee Council ("Flüchtlingsrat") in the federal estate you live and receive support from the PRO ASYL Legal Assistance Fund.

What should I do after the arrival of my family in Germany?

First of all, your family has to register at the Citizens' Office ("Bürgeramt" or "Einwohnermeldeamt"). The next step is the registration at the Immigration Office and/or the BAMF. Since your family has come to Germany with a visa, they have two choices concerning obtaining a long-term residence permit:

Whether you should opt for the first or the second option depends on your family's specific circumstances. Find out more about the advantages and disadvantages of family asylum in our chapter "Family asylum".

What are the next steps?


I have lost my family members

The following search platform can help you find the family members you might have lost during your flight to Germany.