If you are claiming asylum, it is very important to mention your family (husband/wife and children) in your asylum application. If you are recognised as a refugee, you can bring your spouse and children. If you are a refugee and a minor, you can bring your brothers and sisters.
If you have no legal status, you cannot bring your family.
It is very difficult (if not impossible) to bring parents.
If you have a residence permit other than refugee status, you can bring in your spouse and children as part of the family reunification procedure, subject to very specific conditions (stable income, a sufficiently large home, adequate length of stay in France, etc.).
Refugee = “réunification familiale” (unless married after obtaining refugee status)
Other residence permit = “regroupement familial”:
Some general advice
- If you want to bring in family, contact an organisation that can provide you with legal, administrative, social and moral support.
a - Family reunification if you do NOT have refugee status (“regroupement familial”)
If you are not a refugee, you must apply for “regroupement familial”:
A foreign national living legally in France may bring in family members if they
- have a residence permit valid for at least one year ;
- have sufficient resources
- have accommodation sufficiently large for the family.
The family members concerned are the husband or wife and the minor children of the couple or of either spouse. In principle, these family members must live abroad, but in certain cases it is possible to obtain reunification if they are already in France.
Family reunification may be refused for reasons such as threat to public order or polygamy.
*Please note: if you want to get married abroad, for your marriage to be recognised in France, you must publish your intention to marry at your local Town Hall (Mairie) in France and apply to the French consulate in the country where you are getting married for a “certificat de capacité à mariage”.
b - Family reunification if you DO have refugee status (“réunification familiale”)
If you have refugee status, you must apply for “réunification familiale”:
People who have been granted refugee status can bring in their family members without having to meet the above resources and housing conditions. In view of this, and in general, when you complete the OFPRA form, it is important that you indicate the name, date and place of birth of your partner or spouse, and the date of your marriage, even if it was a religious marriage. Also, give the names, dates and places of birth of your children. If you are not sure of the date, put “approximate dates” in inverted commas.
If you are granted refugee status or subsidiary protection, the following family members have the right to join you, and will be able to access certain other rights:
- Your spouse, civil union partner or cohabiting partner;
- Your children and those of your spouse, civil union partner or cohabiting partner, aged under 19;
- your parents and siblings if you are a minor and unmarried.
Your family members must apply for a long-stay visa from the French consular authorities abroad, enclosing their passports, visa application forms (cerfa n°14571*02), proof of protection granted by OFPRA and all documents proving their relationship to you: birth certificates, medical certificates of birth, your marriage certificate, identity cards, school cards, photographs, etc. You may also be asked to provide other proof of your family relationship. People you know can testify to these relationships in writing, with a copy of their identity document. You can also provide detailed telephone bills, Skype or Viber call histories, letters, e-mails, receipts for money transfers, etc. Please note: your family members must apply for visas from the French consular authorities in the country where they are legally resident or in the country of which they are nationals.
If you are cohabiting partners, you must have had a stable and continuous relationship with your partner (actual cohabitation).
If your family is already in France and you have refugee status, your family members are entitled, under certain conditions, to a 10-year residence permit; if you have subsidiary protection, they are entitled, under certain conditions, to a 4-year “carte de séjour pluriannuelle” (multi-annual residence permit), followed by a long-term (10 year) residence permit.
c - Appeals
If your family is refused a visa, you can appeal, first to the Visa Refusal Appeal Commission and then to the Nantes Administrative Court. Contact a specialist organisation for more information, but be aware that appeal windows tend to be very short.
d - Divorce
For people granted protection in France, divorce is subject to French law. If one of the two people in the marriage does not have protection, they may be subject to the law of their country. It is therefore advisable to contact organisations with experience in supporting non-French nationals with this type of situation and/or competent lawyers. It usually takes a long time to get a divorce that was granted abroad recognised.