Criteria and conditions


Country Report: Criteria and conditions Last updated: 18/04/24


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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 responsible for them 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, 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.

Family members without national identity documents however experienced serious difficulties and delays as their right to be issued Bulgarian laissez-passers to replace the lacking passports was not respected uniformly by all consulate services and some needed further intervention to, and by the Consulate Directorate of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA). The MFA itself however continued to request in all of these cases the usual supporting documents, e.g. documents proving sufficient financial means or secured housing, which should have not been the case in visa applications based on family reunification procedure due to the previous vetting and special exclusions with regard to these requirements, envisaged and implemented by the asylum agency SAR when issuing the family reunification permit. [6]

Since 2022, beneficiaries of international protection, mainly from Syria began reporting that their family members experienced serious problems to even approach the Bulgarian consulate services in Istanbul, Ankara and Bursa in Türkiye in order to apply for reunification visas or laissez-passers. A joint NGO communication to MFA raised concerns[7] and requested transparent rules of work to be adopted by these services, however no answer or measures were undertaken in this respect until the end of 2023.

In 2023, a total of 1,165 family reunification applications were submitted to the SAR, out of which 1,116 were approved and 49 rejected.[8]




[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.

[6] Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Consulate Department, Exh. N КОВ-25-00-1 from 25 August 2021.

[7] Bulgarian Helsinki Committee, Foundation Access to Rights, communication to MFA from 28 April 2023.

[8] SAR, reg. No. №РД05-31 from 15 January 2024.

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