Report outlines restrictions placed on refugee family reunification by EU member states

Date: 28th June 2017
Category: Refugee , migrant and asylum-seeking children

A report released by the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights has found that at least seven EU member states restricted their family reunification legislation, with four of these being among the five countries with the highest number of arrivals from Syria.

The report, entitled the 'Fundamental Rights report 2017', highlights the countries which have tightened their restrictions on refugees seeking family reunification. Restrictions include:

  • Shorter timeframes to apply for family reunification to benefit from more favourable conditions
  • Increased material requirements - for example, proving sufficient income, adequate accommodation or health insurance - in case of non-compliance with the new timeframe
  • Restricting the notion of family member - for example, no family reunification for children above 18
  • Excluding beneficiaries of subsidiary protection from applying for family reunification for a certain time period after being granted protection
  • Abolishing the possibility of reimbursing the costs of certain family members travelling from their country of origin

Those countries who have started to implement some of these legislative changes include Austria, Finland, Ireland, Sweden, Hungary, Denmark and Germany.

The report also includes opinions from the FRA on the issues raised in the 'Asylum, visas, migration, borders, and integration' chapter such as those regarding family reunification. The FRA recommends that

"EU Member States should consider using a combination of refugee-related schemes and more refugee-friendly, regular mobility schemes to promote legal pathways to the EU. In this context, they should refrain from adopting legislation that would result in hindering, preventing or significantly delaying family reunification of persons granted international protection.

The EU could consider regulating family reunification of subsidiary protection status holders to address the different approaches taken by Member States."