Family reunification

After your asylum application, you have received a residence permit.  You want to reunite with your family members who are staying abroad. In that case, you can submit an application for family reunification. On this page, we explain briefly which conditions must be met, the course of the procedure, and what you can do to ensure that the procedure goes smoothly.

Please note: the information on this page may not (fully) apply to refugees from Ukraine. The most recent information for refugees from Ukraine can be found on our platform RefugeeHelp >>

Please note!

The Dutch Council for Refugees is currently very busy at the asylum seekers' centres. As such, it may take longer than usual before we can help you. We ask for your understanding in this matter.

Which family members qualify?

Are you 18 years of age or older and do you have an asylum residence permit? In that case, you can apply for family reunification for the following family members:

  1. Your adult spouse or unmarried partner with whom you are having a permanent and exclusive relationship. NB: Do you have more than one spouse or partner? In that case, you will be allowed to bring only one partner together with the children you have with this partner.
  2. Your minor child or your partner's child if it belongs to your family. This applies to biological children but also to adoptive or foster children. Adult children who have always belonged to your family and who still belong to your family, who are not married and who do not have a relationship themselves also qualify.

Submission of an application for family reunification for asylum seekers is free of charge.

Are you younger than 18 years of age?

If you are younger than 18 years of age and you have an asylum residence permit, you may apply for family reunification for your biological father and/or mother, minor brothers and sisters, and in some cases adult brothers and sisters. Different procedures and conditions apply to this case, and this may involve costs. Please contact your guardian or counsellor at the Dutch Council for Refugees (Vluchtelingenwerk) and inquire after the possibilities.

Please note! Three months to apply for family reunification

The moment you have received your asylum residence permit, you must apply for family reunification within three months from the date of the decision. You are personally responsible for providing the correct information for your application. Because the application procedure is complicated, you can ask your counsellor (at the Dutch Council for Refugees) for help.

Conditions for family reunification

If you want to apply for a residence permit for your family members, the following conditions must be met:

  • You must have an independent asylum residence permit.
  • You must submit your application within the journey in connection with family reunification period (in Dutch: nareistermijn). This period lasts three months and starts on the date printed on your asylum residence permit. NB: You must also submit the application within the journey in connection with family reunification period even if you did not have any contact with your family members recently or if they are missing.
  • Your family members were already part of your family abroad. This is called ‘family ties'.
  • You family members must be able to prove their identity and the family ties with you with documents. These documents must be official documents from the authorities in the country of origin.
  • You have mentioned your family members during the asylum procedure.
  • Do you submit an application for your minor child, and is the other biological parent staying behind? In that case the parent staying behind must have given permission for your child's departure to the Netherlands.

Please note! Collect documents

Collect as many documents required for the application as soon as possible. There are various documents which you can use to prove your family ties or identity, for example: passport, identity card, marriage certificate, and family book. The IND may require different documents for each country. Consult with your counsellor (at the Dutch Council for Refugees) which documents are necessary for your application. You are personally responsible for submitting all documents properly and in time. This is very important for a proper course of the procedure.

How long does the procedure take?

The family reunification procedure consists of many different steps. Your counsellor (at the Dutch Council for Refugees) can assist you in the different steps. It may take several months to more than one year before the Immigration and Naturalisation Service (IND) decides on your application.

Please note! Respond to questions from the IND in time

It is important that you always respond to questions from the IND about your application in time. Did you receive post from the IND? Go to your counsellor (at the Dutch Council for Refugees).

After your family's arrival

If the family reunification has been approved and your family members have travelled to the Netherlands, they must report to the reception centre in Ter Apel. They will usually stay there for four days. During this stay, the IND will give them a dependent residence permit, which is valid for five years. ‘Dependent’ means that their residence depends on your permit. If the IND decides to withdraw your asylum residence permit or not to renew it, the IND will also withdraw the permits of your family members. In that case, the IND will assess if they can get an asylum residence permit independently.
The IND may also withdraw the residence permits of your family members if the family ties stop. This may be the case if your family members no longer have a relationship with you. Or if your family member is a child that goes and live on his or her own within one year. The fact is that an obligation to live together applies.
Do your family members want to submit an independent application, for example because they have their own reasons for asking for asylum? In that case, they can contact the Dutch Council for Refugees.

What can the Dutch Council for Refugees do for you?

  • We give you information about the family reunification procedure and we can help you complete the application form.
  • We can maintain contact with the IND during the procedure on your behalf. For example: we can assist you in answering the questions from the IND about your family ties or in collecting evidence.
  • Sometimes, we can pay part of the travel expenses to the Netherlands for your family members. Please contact your counsellor to inquire after the possibilities.
  • Once your family members have arrived in the Netherlands and suitable housing has been found in the municipality, there are still many practical matters to be arranged. For example: applying for a benefit and allowances, taking out healthcare insurance, registering with a family doctor, dentist, and school. You can do all these things yourself, but you can also ask for assistance.
  • If your application is rejected, we can help you find a lawyer.