Refugee family reunion is the legal process undertaken by a refugee or person with humanitarian protection to reunite with their pre-flight dependant family members. The refugee migrants can include their family on the asylum application and if granted, the family will be granted ‘leave in line’ to remain in the UK for the same amount of time as the main applicant. However, if the family is not present in the UK or not included in the application, then they would have to apply separately under the family reunion immigration rules to join or remain with the main Refugee leave applicant.

Pre-flight and Post-flight family members

Whether the family members in question are pre-flight or post-flight members of the person given refugee status or humanitarian protection would determine the conditions for a family reunion.

Pre-flight family members include spouses, civil partners, children, and other relatives who were part of the asylum seeker’s family before they fled their native country. Dependant applicants must be residing in the refugee sponsor’s home country, connected to them, and a member of their household when they fled the country to be able to apply under this route. This application necessitates evidence of a relationship. In most cases, family reunion requests should be submitted from outside the United Kingdom. In-country applications are also permitted under the Immigration Rules, so those who have already arrived in the UK can apply.

Family members who were not part of the immediate family when the asylum seeker fled their native country are referred to as post-flight. This could include children born after an asylum seeker left their home country, adult dependent relatives, a spouse or partner if the relationship began after the refugee sponsor arrived in the UK, and so on. Post-flight family members must apply through the standard family process. The refugee sponsor must have a valid refugee leave or humanitarian protection, be able to support and house the family, and, in the case of a spouse visa, the relationship must be real and ongoing with the aim of being together permanently. For a complete understanding of this path, please see the spouse visa criteria.