Criteria and conditions


Country Report: Criteria and conditions Last updated: 11/05/23


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The same legal framework is applicable to refugees and beneficiaries of subsidiary protection in terms of family reunification. As soon as refugees and subsidiary protection beneficiaries are granted protection, they are entitled to apply for it. Family reunification is allowed for:[1]

  • Spouses or partners (PACS) with whom they were in a relationship prior to lodging their asylum claim if they are at least 18 years old;
  • De facto partners (concubinage) who are at least 18 years old with whom they were and remain in a durable and steady relationship, including living under the same roof;
  • Children until their 19th birthday; the date to determine this is the date of lodging of the family reunification request before the embassy
  • For minor refugees: their first degree parents and their parents’ dependent children; the date chosen to determine if the refugee is or was a minor for the purpose of this procedure is the date of lodging of the asylum claim

The application for family reunification is not time-limited. Family reunification is not subjected to income or health insurance requirements,[2] even if the requested is lodged after 3 months contrary to the possibility offered by EU law to then have refugees go through the normal procedure for foreigners which has such requirements.

Beneficiaries’ family members have to request a visa at the French embassy with all the documentation proving their relationship with the refugee or the beneficiary of subsidiary protection they want to join.[3] The embassy communicates to OFPRA the elements collected and asks for certification of the declarations. If the information collected by the embassy corresponds to the declarations the beneficiary made to OFPRA both at the beginning of their asylum claim and when asked during the family reunification procedure, the family members must be issued a visa without delay.[4]

In practice, beneficiaries and their family members face difficulties in gathering the documentation proving their family ties (which add to the difficulties related to the complexity of the visa form). In case of traditional or religious unions, they do not to have any certificate of the celebration and cannot then prove they are married or partners. They must then prove a stable and durable relationship, which requires much more documents. The same problems have been identified concerning birth certificates. Such documentation does not even exist in some countries and the delays for being issued a visa in order to come to France, in the framework of family reunification, can be very long.

Due to COVID-19, family reunification was suspended for months in 2020: this situation was not foreseen in the decision listing exceptions allowing entry into France. This decision was challenged, and the Council of state decided in January 2021 that family reunification should not be limited in the context of health crisis.[5] It ruled, inter alia, that this decision disproportionately infringes the right to normal family life and the best interests of the child. Consequently a new decision was issued allowing the entry to territory to persons coming for the purpose of family reunification.[6]




[1] Article L. 561-2 Ceseda, as amended by Article 3 Law n. 2018-778 of 10 September 2018.

[2] Article L. 561-2 Ceseda.

[3] Article L. 561-5 Ceseda.

[4] Articles L. 561-14 to L. 561-16 Ceseda.

[5] Council of State, Decisions Nos 447878, 447893, 22 January 2021, available in French at:

[6] Décret No. 2021-99 du 30 janvier 2021 modifiant les décrets No. 2020-1262 du 16 octobre 2020 et No. 2020-1310 du 29 octobre 2020 prescrivant les mesures générales nécessaires pour faire face à l’épidémie de covid-19 dans le cadre de l’état d’urgence sanitaire. NOR : SSAZ2103545D.

Table of contents

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