Criteria and conditions


Country Report: Criteria and conditions Last updated: 30/11/20


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Refugees and subsidiary protection beneficiaries can apply for family reunification under the same conditions.


Family members that are eligible for family reunification are the spouse and registered or unregistered partner, if there is a sustainable and exclusive relationship. Minor children and young adult children (aged between 18 and 25 years old) who still belong to the family of the parents are also eligible for family reunification. This applies to biological and foster or adoptive children or children from a previous marriage from one of the parents. Lastly, the parents of an ‘unaccompanied minor’ in the meaning of article 2(f) of the Family Reunification Directive qualify for family reunification. Since the CJEU judgment of 12 April 2018, persons that are minor while applying for asylum are considered minor in the meaning of article 2(f) of the Family Reunification Directive (Directive 2003/86) even when they reach the age of 18 when they are eventually granted the asylum status and apply for family reunification.[1]


The beneficiary has to apply for family reunification within 3 months after being granted the asylum residence permit, in order to have his or her application considered within a more favourable framework for family reunification. This framework applies to holders of an asylum residence permit and contains less strict conditions for family reunification in comparison to the regular framework. There is no income and health insurance requirement if the beneficiary lodges the application within these 3 months.


If the beneficiary fails to apply for family reunification within 3 months, he or she will have to apply for regular family reunification, meaning that he will have to meet stricter requirements like a minimum income. In its judgment of 7 November 2018, the CJEU ruled that the time limit of three months in which the application has to be lodged in order to enjoy the more favourable provisions for refugees, is in accordance with the Family Reunification Directive and no individualised assessment as in Article 17 of the Directive has to be made when the time limit has been exceeded.[2] However, the Court also ruled that legislation should lay down rules in which particular circumstances render the late submission of the initial application objectively excusable. In addition, member states should ensure that sponsors recognised as refugees continue to benefit from the more favourable conditions for the exercise of the right to family reunification applicable to refugees, specified in articles 10 and 11 or in article 12(2) of the directive. To date, this has not yet been secured in legislation. The legislative proposal extending the time limit for applying for family reunification from 3 to 6 months and the decision period from 6 to 9 months, has been withdrawn after the ruling of the Court.[3]


In practice, there can be difficulties in applying for family reunification within the 3-month time limit due to misinformation or a high influx of asylum seekers, for example.


Another bottleneck is the requirement that identity and family ties have to be made plausible by official documents, and in absence thereof, with sufficient unofficial documents of explanations as to why there are no official documents. Only if there are sufficient unofficial documents or plausible explanations, DNA-research will be done and/or interviews will be held. However, if the unofficial documents are not sufficient and/or explanations are not considered plausible, the immigration service will reject the application without further research. The Council of State,[4] has ruled that this policy is in accordance with the ruling of the CJEU of 13 March 2019.[5]


The following numbers of persons had access to the Netherlands in the context of family reunification with the holder of an asylum residence permit:


Family reunification with beneficiaries of protection in the Netherlands: 2019

Country of origin

























Source: Asylum Trends, December 2019

[1]CJEU, Case C-550/16, A and S v. the Netherlands, 12 April 2018.

[2]CJEU, Case C-380/17, K and B v. the Netherlands, 7 November 2018.

[3]KST 34544, nr. 6, Letter withdrawing the legislative proposal adjusting the terms in the family reunification procedure for refugees, 12 July 2019.

[4]Council of State, Decision 201902483/1/V1, 16 September 2019.

[5]CJEU, Case C-635/17, E v the Netherlands, 13 March 2019.


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