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 permitted 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;
2. Partners who are at least 18 years old in case their union has been sealed prior to the lodging of the asylum claim if they demonstrate they durably and steady lived together;
3. Children within the year after turning 18 years old;
4. First degree parents if the beneficiaries are still under 18 years old by the day asylum is granted. Following the 2018 reform, unaccompanied children beneficiaries of international protection may be reunited with their first degree parents and their dependant children.
The application for family reunification is not time limited. Family reunification is not subjected to income or health insurance 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. The embassy communicates to OFPRA the elements collected and asks for certification. If the information collected by the embassy corresponds to the declarations the beneficiary made to OFPRA, his or her family members must be issued a visa without delay.
In practice, beneficiaries and their family members face difficulties in gathering the documentation proving their family ties. 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. 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. On 23 March 2020, the Administrative court of Nantes issued a decision concerning the refusal of the French consulate in Athens to register a family reunification request of a separated Afghan family.
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 Conseil d’Etat decided in January 2021 that family reunification should not be limited in the context of health crisis. 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.