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How to Reunite your family

This information was last updated: 19 November 2015

People who are recognised as refugees or granted humanitarian protection are entitled to bring to the UK as their dependents:-

  • Spouse
  • Children under 18

The requirements are set out in the Immigration Rules at paragraphs 352A-352FI.

There are separate provisions for long term cohabitees and civil partners.

The immigration rules at paragraph 319X also provide a potential route for other children (such as a niece), under the age of 18.


What do the Rules require?

For a spouse you will have to establish that the marriage existed before the refugee escaped. For a child you will have to establish that they are members of the family unit before the refugee escaped, remains under 18 and has not established an independent life. It is very helpful if you can refer to details of the family unit that were provided to the Home Office in the initial asylum application. Documents proving the relationships are also extremely helpful, such as original marriage certificates, birth certificates, identity documents, passports and photographs. It is also a good idea to produce evidence of ongoing contact, such as telephone calls and financial remittances to establish that the relationship is still subsisting. Applicants are permitted to have recourse to public funds and there is no requirement to sit an English language test. The Home Office provide an information leaflet called SET 10.

What do I need to do?

Applicants will have to apply for a visa. The application is generally made on-line application. There is no application fee. A separate application has to be made for each family member seeking a visa. Once the application is submitted on-line, you will need to book an appointment to attend the visa processing centre. The applicants will need to take:

  • A signed copy of the application form.
  • 2 passport photographs for each applicant.
  • The applicants’ passports.
  • Original marriage certificate.
  • Original birth certificates.
  • Evidence of the family relationships and ongoing contact.
  • Certified evidence of the sponsor’s refugee status in the UK.
  • Supporting evidence from international agencies, such as UNHCR, to confirm the applicants’ identity.
  • In most countries applicants will have to produce a TB certificate from an approved TB centre.

At the visa processing centre the applicants will be photographed and finger-printed. Sometimes the entry clearance officer will require a DNA test. It is very important that you have reliable contact details such as email and telephone numbers for the entry clearance officer to contact you. Another useful source of information is the Home Office’s Family Reunion Policy.

Can I appeal the decision?

At the end of the process, the entry clearance officer will make a decision either granting the application or refusing it. If it is granted you will be given leave in line with the sponsoring refugee. If it is refused there is a limited right of appeal on human rights grounds only. To obtain a right of appeal it is essential to have raised human rights in the application.

Red Cross

For further support and assistance in connection with travel costs, you can approach the British Red Cross.

Can we help?

If you run into difficulties we are here to help If you would like to arrange a consultation please telephone 0208 885 7979.



The information provided in this How To: is general advice and information and Wilsons Solicitors LLP accepts no liability for its applicability to the facts of your individual circumstances.

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