Criteria and conditions


Country Report: Criteria and conditions Last updated: 21/04/21


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The law does not request any waiting period before a beneficiary can apply for a family reunification, nor sets a maximum time limit for submitting a family reunification application.[1] Both recognised refugees and subsidiary protection holders are entitled to ask to be reunited with their families in Bulgaria without any distinction in the scope of their rights or procedures applicable. The family reunification permit is issued by the SAR.

Eligible family members

Under the law, family reunification can be granted to the members of the extended family circle, namely:

  • Spouses;
  • Children under the age of 18;
  • Cohabitants with whom the status holder has an evidenced stable long-term relationship and their unmarried underage children;
  • Unmarried children who have come of age, and who are unable to provide for themselves due to grave health conditions;
  • Parents of either one of the spouses who are unable to take care of themselves due to old age or a serious health condition, and who have to share the household of their children; and
  • Parents or another adult member of the family who is responsible, by law or custom, for the underage unmarried status holder who has been granted international protection in Bulgaria.

Unaccompanied children who have been granted international protection also have the right to reunite with their parents, but also with another adult member of their family or with a person who is in charge of him/her by law or custom when the parents are deceased or missing.[2]

Family reunification can be refused on the basis of an exclusion clause or with respect to a spouse in cases of polygamy when the status holder already has a spouse in Bulgaria.[3]

If the status holder is unable to provide official documents or papers certifying marriage or kinship, the latter can be established by a declaration on his behalf.[4]

Issuance of documents for family reunification

The family members issued a family reunification permit can obtain visas by the diplomatic or consular representations. The SAR has an obligation to facilitate the reunification of separated families by assisting the issuance of travel documents, visas as well as for their admission into the territory of the country.[5] However, in practice the Bulgarian consular departments have stopped issuing travel documents to minor children who have not been issued national documents after their birth, under the pretext of avoiding eventual child smuggling or trafficking.

In 2020, a total of 85 family reunification applications were submitted to the SAR, out of which 70 were approved and 15 rejected.

[1]           Article 34(1) LAR.

[2]           Article 34(4) LAR.

[3]           Article 34(3) LAR.

[4]           Article 34(5) LAR.

[5]           Article 34(7)-(8) LAR.

Table of contents

  • Statistics
  • Overview of the legal framework
  • Overview of the of the main changes since the previous report update
  • Asylum Procedure
  • Reception Conditions
  • Detention of Asylum Seekers
  • Content of International Protection
  • ANNEX – Transposition of the CEAS in national legislation