Status and rights of family members


Country Report: Status and rights of family members Last updated: 05/06/24


Teresa Fachinger, Paula Hoffmeyer-Zlotnik and Marlene Stiller

If family members are already in Germany and have applied for asylum at the same time as or prior to the person granted protection or if family members arrive in Germany and immediately apply for asylum while their partner has already been granted protection, they are usually granted the protection status at the same time, often as part of the same decision, within the concept of ‘family asylum’. These provisions apply to refugees and beneficiaries of subsidiary protection accordingly.[1]

If family members arrive without a visa after the partner has been granted protection and do not immediately apply for asylum, they may face charges for illegal entry under Section 95 Residence Act.

Family members who immigrate to Germany by means of family reunification are entitled to a residence permit with validity of at least one year. The maximum period of validity must not exceed the period of validity of the residence permit held by the beneficiary of protection.[2] At first, the right of residence is generally dependent on the status of the beneficiary of protection, so residence permits of family members are prolonged as long as this person enjoys protection status. However, after a period of three years, spouses may gain entitlement to a right of residence which is independent of the beneficiary of protection. Accordingly, they can be issued a residence permit of their own in case of a divorce.[3]




[1] Section 26(5) Asylum Act.

[2] Section 27(4) Residence Act.

[3] Section 31 Residence Act.

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