In Croatia, family reunification is regulated primarily by the LITP, as well as by the Law on Foreigners. At the moment, no requirements in relation to waiting periods before a beneficiary can apply for family reunification or a maximum time limit for applying for family reunification are prescribed by the legislation, nor is there a minimum income requirement.
A family member for whom reasons exist for exclusion and for reasons of protection of the national security or public order of the Republic of Croatia shall not have the right of family reunification.
The Croatian Law Centre, in cooperation with UNHCR Croatia, the Ministry of the Interior and the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs, created leaflets with information on the procedure for family reunification. The leaflet was published in Croatian, and translated into Arabic, Farsi and English.
In practice, family reunification procedures remain lengthy and highly bureaucratized that beneficiaries of protection alone, without additional support, can hardly manage.
In 2020, the Croatian Law Centre prepared the updated analyses of the institute of family reunification in Croatia. The paper explains the conditions for family reunification, stages in the family reunification process, but also the reasons when exclusion from the right to family reunification may occur. The paper also lists the most common problems that arise in these procedures:
- non-receipt of applications for family reunification by embassies and / or consular missions of the Republic of Croatia due to incomplete documentation;
- distance of embassies and / or consular offices of the Republic of Croatia from the countries of origin where persons who want to apply for family reunification are situated:
- uneven practice of some honorary consuls located in countries where there are no diplomatic missions and / or consular missions of the Republic of Croatia, as some are reluctant to participate in connecting persons in need and embassies and / or consular missions:
- family members who want to reunite with a beneficiary of international protection and who are in war-torn countries are often unable to obtain travel documents, which makes it impossible to initiate the procedure itself;
- obtaining documents proving kinship with a beneficiary of international protection is also a problematic for persons who want to reunite;
- the problem of financing travel expenses which include airplane tickets, fees, travel health insurance, travel expenses to the country where the diplomatic mission and / or consular post of the Republic of Croatia is located, and financing accommodation / staying costs in that country pending a decision.
Eligible family members
Both refugees (“asylees”) and beneficiaries of subsidiary protection have the right to family reunification with following family members:
- the spouse or unmarried partner under the regulations of the Republic of Croatia, and persons who are in a union, which under the regulations of the Republic of Croatia may be deemed to be a life partnership or informal life partnership;
- the minor child of the marital or unmarried partners; their minor adopted child; the minor child and minor adopted child of a married, unmarried or life partner who exercises parental care of the child;
- the adult unmarried child of a refugee or beneficiary of subsidiary protection who, due to his or her state of health is not able to take care of his or her own needs;
- the parent or other legal representative of a minor;
- a relative of the first degree in a direct ascending blood line, with whom he or she lived in a shared household, if it is established that he or she is dependent on the care of a refugee or beneficiary of subsidiary protection.
A minor child of a refugee or beneficiary of subsidiary protection who has not formed their own family shall follow the legal status of their legal representative to whom international protection has been granted, on which the Ministry of Interior shall render a decision.
In the case of family reunification of refugees or beneficiaries of subsidiary protection, for a person who is unable to obtain official documents to prove a specific family relationship, circumstances shall be taken into consideration on the basis of which it may be assessed whether or not such a relationship exists. A decision to refuse an application for family reunification cannot be based exclusively on the fact that no official document exists to prove a specific family relationship.
Family reunification procedure
The family reunification procedure consists of two stages. First, an application for the temporary stay is submitted; once temporary stay is granted, an application for the issuance of a long-term visa has to be submitted.
National legislation stipulates that in the case of reunification with an asylee or a foreigner under subsidiary protection, the procedure is initiated by a family member of the person who has been granted international protection in Croatia, by submitting an application to the competent Croatian diplomatic/consular representation. In practice, if some problems exist and family members cannot reach the competent Diplomatic Mission, some Diplomatic Missions or Consular Offices of the Republic of Croatia allow applications to be submitted at some other Croatian mission. The application for temporary stay based on family reunification may be submitted regular mail. Once temporary stay for the purpose of family reunification is granted, the person has to apply for visa to enter Croatia. Family member has to appear in person at the embassy or external service provider to make an application for a visa to enter Croatia and provide biometric data. The legal time limit for issuing the visa is 15 days from the date of submission of the application for a long-term visa. However, this period can be extended up to a maximum of 45 days, if there are justified reasons to do so.
In practice, the whole procedure lasts approximately six to nine months, and in some cases even the whole year from the date of submission of application for temporary stay until family member come to Croatia.
All family members of asylees and foreigners under subsidiary protection shall regulate their residence pursuant to the provisions of the Law on Foreigners in order to be able to enter Croatia, which means that they should submit applications for temporary stay.
Family members of asylees and foreigners under subsidiary protection who regulate their stay pursuant to the provisions of the Law on Foreigners have to fulfil the following requirements:
- justify the purpose of temporary stay,
- hold a valid foreign travel document,
- when applying for temporary stay for the first time, provide a document proving that s/he has not been convicted of criminal offences by a final ruling, which has been issued by home country or a country in which s/he has resided for more than a year immediately prior to arriving in the Republic of Croatia,
- has not been forbidden to enter into the Republic of Croatia and stay in the Republic of Croatia, or if no alert has been issued in SIS for the purpose of forbidding his entry
- does not pose threat to public policy, national security or public health.
However, they do not to provide proof of health insurance and proof of means of subsistence in order to be granted temporary stay for the purpose of family reunification. If, during the procedure for granting temporary stay, the close family member cannot provide proof of the existence of a certain familial relationship with a third-country national who has been granted international protection, other proof of the existence of such relationship can also be taken into account, which is assessed in line with the legislation governing the general administrative procedure.
A temporary stay permit shall be issued with the period of validity of up to one year and the validity of the foreign travel document should be for three months beyond the period of validity of the temporary stay permit.
According to the Ministry of Interior, there were 39 applications for family reunification in 2018. 29 applications were approved and 10 were still pending at the end of 2018.
In 2021. total of 60 applications for temporary stay were submitted for the purpose of family reunification with persons granted international protection. Out of these, 47 were granted (Bangladesh 1, DR Congo 7, Egypt 1, Eritrea 4, Iraq 2, Iran 1, Yemen 1, Jordan 1, Pakistan 3, Sierra Leone 2, Syria 20, Northern Macedonia 1, Sudan 1, Türkiye 1, Ukraine 1) while 13 (Afghanistan 1, Eritrea 4, Russia 1, Syria 7) were pending.
In 2022, a total of 64 requests for family reunification with beneficiaries of international protection were submitted, and by the end of 2022, 21 requests were in the process, while 43 requests were approved. The largest number of requests were submitted by nationals of Syria, Iraq and Iran.
 Article 66 LITP.
 Article 66(5) LITP.
 CLC, UNHCR, Ministry of Interior and Ministry of Foreign and European affairs, Family reunification in Croatia – Information for persons granted international protection, available in Croatian at: https://bit.ly/2RfNCgY; in Arabic at: https://bit.ly/2V7Prh5; in Farsi at: https://bit.ly/2whB6Ge; and in English at: https://bit.ly/2Xi6lwe.
 Article 66(6) LITP.
 Article 37(6) Law on Foreigner
 Article 59(1) Law on Foreigner.
 Article 66 (1) Law on Foreigners.
 Article 66 (2) Law on Foreigners.
 Article 61 (1),(2), (5) Law on Foreigners.
 Croatian Law Centre: The Croatian Asylum System In 2021 – National Report, The report was prepared as part of the project “Access to the territory and the asylum system in Croatia – legal support and capacity building” with the financial support of UNHCR; available in Croatian at: https://bit.ly/3NgBDfc and in English at: https://bit.ly/3NBvVpC.
 Croatian Law Centre, The Croatian Asylum System in 2022 – National Report. The report was prepared as part of the project “Legal Assistance and Capacity Building for Access to Territory and Asylum in Croatia“, with financial support of the UNHCR Croatia: available in English at: https://bit.ly/434T7RL.