The International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP) provides free legal help to some refugees and displaced people.
- IRAP helps some people find services and prepare refugee and visa applications.
- IRAP is not part of any government, IOM, or UNHCR.
- IRAP cannot grant refugee status or visas or speed up cases.
- IRAP cannot provide financial help, find or pay for housing, or find jobs.
- All of IRAP’s help is free. No one affiliated with IRAP has the right to ask you for money or any other service.
IRAP decides to help people based on their need and eligibility for immigration status. IRAP does not decide to help people based on any other social or political or religious criteria.
This website provides general information about legal processes available to some refugees. It is not meant as legal advice for individual applications.
If you are in a refugee emergency, we recommend that you contact the UNHCR office in the country where you live .
Refugees and people with certain protection statuses in France have the right to family reunification. This means they can apply for a visa for some of their family members living abroad. This visa will allow their relatives to travel and move to France.
If you are a refugee, have subsidiary protection status, or are a stateless person in France, you can apply for your spouse, partner, and minor children to join you in France. If you are an unaccompanied child in that situation, you can apply for your parents, accompanied by their minor children, to join you in France. You are the sponsor. Your relative abroad is the applicant.
NOTE: There is also another process for family reunification in France. This process is open to ANY foreigner with a valid residence permit living in France. Refugees or subsidiary protection holders who got married after they applied for asylum in France can use this process instead. There are different requirements for this process that are NOT covered in this guide. If you want to learn more about this type of application, you can read about it on the French Government website here.
Who is eligible?
Requirements for a spouse or partner
- You and your spouse or partner are 18 years old or older
- Your relationship existed before you applied for asylum in France. This means you were married or started a serious and stable relationship before you arrived and applied for asylum in France.
Requirements for a child (including adopted children)
- A child from your current relationship must be under 19 years old at the time of the application. This is when your relative submits the application at the embassy.
- A child from previous relationships must be under 18 years old at the time of the application. You or your current partner must have custody over this child, and a custody decision from a foreign court will have to be provided. If you do not have this, you have to show that the family link is established only in respect of you or your current partner or that the other parent has died or that the other parent has forfeited their parental rights. If the other parent is still alive, you will also need to show that you have their permission to bring the child to France.
Requirements for parents and siblings
- Your parents can join you in France if you are an unaccompanied child. This means you are under 18 and living alone in France.
- Your brothers and/or sisters can join you in France if they are under 18 years old. They must be accompanying your parents when they move to France.
How to apply
To apply for family reunification, you need to fill out a “long term” visa form for each family member. You will have to fill out the long term visa form by creating an account online. Fill out the details online on the France Visa website here:
After completing and submitting this form, you will have to book an appointment for your family at the French Consulate. You should book an appointment in the country where your family lives. You can find out where the relevant Consulate is for your family here. This site will show you if you can book an appointment for your family online. If not, you will need to email the Consulate or call them to book an appointment. Each Consulate is different and it is not always possible to book an appointment online for your family.
There may not be a French Consulate in the country where your family is living. In this case, your family will have to travel to another Consulate in a neighboring country.
When to apply
You can apply for family reunification as soon as you get refugee or subsidiary protection status in France. This is when you receive a decision by the Office for the Protection of Refugees and Stateless People (OFPRA) on your asylum case.
Documents you will need to include in your application
Your family should bring with them to the appointment:
- 2 completed long-term residence visa forms. The visa form is available here (in French, Arabic, or English).
- Their passport or another form of identification if they don’t have a passport and can’t get one
- 2 passport photos for each relative who is part of the visa application
- If any of the applicants wear a veil, they will need to remove it in the passport photo. This is because of French government regulations.
- Your OFPRA decision granting you protection in France
- €99 per person in local currency
- Evidence of your relationship to your relative (see below)
Evidence of your relationship to your relative
When applying for your spouse or partner you will need to provide documents and evidence to prove your relationship. This includes:
- Your marriage certificate, or
- Civil status documents delivered by OFPRA
When applying for your child you will need to provide documents and evidence to prove your relationship. This includes:
- Their birth certificate listing you as the parent
- If you don't have this, you can submit a religious document or another legal document listing you as their legal guardian. For example, a baptism certificate.
When applying for your parents (if you are a minor) you will need to provide documents and evidence to prove your relationship. This includes:
- Your birth certificate listing them as the parent
- If you don't have this, you can submit a religious document or another legal document. For example, a baptism certificate.
You should also provide other documents which help to evidence your family relationship. Some examples are:
- Your asylum application
- Asylum interview transcript
- Family reference sheet completed after you were granted protection in France
- Photos of your wedding / partner / children / parents / siblings
- Communications with your partner / children / parents / siblings
- Money transfers showing you support them financially
- A letter explaining how you met and how you were separated, etc.
- A letter from people who know you and your relatives. The letter should discuss the relationship you have together
- Proof of visits, if they are no longer in your country of origin
What happens after you apply?
After your family applies for a visa, the Consulate will contact the refugee family office in Nantes, France. The refugee family office is part of the French Ministry of the Interior. The office will verify that your relatives (the applicants) are registered as your family members in France. The Consulate will also verify that the documents you submitted are authentic.
You (the sponsor) will receive a form asking you for information about your family members. It is important that the information that you provide is the same as the information your relatives wrote down in their application.
The French government will also request:
- A copy of both sides of your residency card
- A copy of all the pages of your travel document
- Proof of your domicile (where you live) (such as a utility bill, your rental contract, etc.)
- Any documents showing your relationship to your relatives. Examples of this are:
- Family photos
- Money transfers to your relatives showing you support them financially
- Telephone records and other records of your communication with them
- Copies of civil status documents of your family members, translated into French where applicable
- Proof of payment of family allowance fund
- Photocopy of confirmation of your right to social security in France
You will need to complete the questionnaire as soon as you receive it. You should then send the questionnaire and all other documents to this address:
Ministry of the Interior
Directorate of Immigration
Office of Refugee Families
BP 43605 - 44036 NANTES cedex 1
The French government has between two to four months to make a decision on your application. The government can ask for a four-month extension if necessary. For some Consulates this extension is automatic. Your family members will be informed of the decision. If no decision is made within two months of sending the form back to the Refugee Family Office, you can contact the Consulate to ask about a decision.
If the government accepts the visa application, your relatives will receive a visa. If they don’t have a passport, the French government will issue a temporary travel document. The requirements for the visa to be issued will depend on the Consulate. In some cases, the consulate will ask for a flight reservation before giving the visa and travel documents to your family members.
Asking for help
You or your relative may want to ask an immigration attorney for help with this process. IRAP has limited capacity to assist in French family reunification cases. Information about asking for help from IRAP is here.
- French infographic summarizing the family reunification process
French government information on the right to family reunification
- Scroll down for information in English, Arabic, Pashto, Tigrinya and Dari