There is no difference between refugees and subsidiary protection beneficiaries in relation to the criteria and conditions for family reunification.
Eligible family members
Article 2(j) of the Asylum Act defines family members of the beneficiary of refugee status or subsidiary protection, to the extent that the family is in the country of origin at the date of the asylum application made by the sponsor, as:
– Minor unmarried children of the beneficiary or the spouse, with the condition that they are unmarried, regardless of whether they are born in the marriage or out of wedlock or adopted in accordance with the national law of the country of origin.
The law does not set out any waiting period before a beneficiary of international protection may apply for family reunification. The law does not prescribe any deadline for applying for family reunification. The beneficiary of international protection in Romania may apply for asylum for his or her family members as long as they are not on the territory of Romania. Beneficiaries of international protection are also not required to prove the existence of income, accommodation or health insurance for family reunification.
They only need to prove the family relationship with the family member or the fact that the marriage was concluded before entering the territory of Romania. In practice, if the beneficiary of international protection does not have the financial means to pay for the translation of necessary documents to prove family ties, NGOs might help him or her in covering the costs of translation. In this case, the beneficiary has to wait until he or she receives the Residence Permit, as the terms of the project funded by the national AMIF programme clearly state that costs of such translations may be covered only based on residence permit.
Family reunification procedure
Prior to 2017, the applications for family reunification were assessed by IGI-DAI Bucharest. Currently, family reunification applications are to be processed by every Regional Centre.
According to the law, once the application has been submitted, the beneficiary shall also present original documents (birth certificate, marriage certificate, identity card) to prove family ties with the family members or, in the absence of these documents, any other documents proving the status of family member.
In order to obtain additional data and information on family ties and to clarify other relevant aspects of the asylum application lodged for family members, IGI-DAI must conduct an interview with the beneficiary of international protection.
If the beneficiary of international protection does not present to IGI-DAI sufficient documents showing his or her family relationship with the family member in whose name the application is made, where originals are in the possession of the family member who is in a third country, IGI-DAI must communicate to the Directorate-General for Consular Affairs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs the list of the necessary documents.
The General Directorate for Consular Affairs requests the diplomatic mission or the consular office of Romania from the country where the family member of the beneficiary of international protection is, to establish the existence of the documents requested by IGI-DAI. The family member must present these documents, in original, to the diplomatic mission or consular office of Romania. The documents shall be sent in copy, with the mention “according to the original”, through the General Directorate for Consular Affairs, to IGI-DAI by the diplomatic mission or consular office of Romania from the country where the family member is present.
Cases of family reunification in 2019 per regional centre
Timișoara: According to AIDRom representative and the director of Regional Centre Timișoara, there were no cases of family reunification in 2019.
In Galaţi there were many applications for family reunification and they were all admitted or still pending a decision. The procedure takes around 6-9 months, as the application is assessed by the case officer, according to article 31(2) of the Asylum Decree. When the application was assessed by IGI-DAI Bucharest the average duration of the procedure was 2-3 months. Thus, the procedure for family reunification takes much more time since the assessment of the application is done at the regional level.
Rădăuţi: 16 requests were lodged, all of them were admitted and in 14 cases the family members already arrived in Romania. The family members arrived within 2-3 months. In some cases, they arrived within 2-3 weeks. IGI-DAI is assessing the applications swiftly in 1-2 weeks. An unaccompanied child who attained the age of majority wanted to submit an application for family reunification; however, he did not apply as he received the documents 6 months after he had been granted a form of protection. It was also noted that in one case, the Embassy from Erbil requested the proof of financial means. However, the situation was remedied.
Şomcuta Mare: According to JRS representative, 3 unaccompanied minors submitted applications for family reunification, which were all admitted. According to ASSOC representative, there were 2 applications, that were also admitted. The IGI-DAI accepts scanned documents. As for covering the translation fees of the documents, ASSOC representative reported that, if the beneficiary states in advance that he or she would like to apply for family reunification, this is taken into account and may be covered by the project implemented by the NGO. As of August 2019, with the start of a new phase of the SIM_CIS project, the budget line assigned no longer covers this. However, the NGO may help beneficiaries who intend to apply for family reunification, by putting them in contact with a translation company in Bucharest. Beneficiaries may cover the cost of translation from the non-refundable financial aid, as the procedure for family reunification is triggered only after the beneficiaries are informing their families about the requested documents and not immediately after they are granted a form of protection.
It was reported by some of the stakeholders interviewed that in general IGI-DAI requests original documents, but if the applicant cannot present the original documents, he or she is informed that the family members have to present them at the Romanian Embassy.
IOM reported that in some cases beneficiaries of international protection had to prove they have an income, medical insurance or accommodation.
In Giurgiu, original documents are preferred, according to the JRS representative. Even though family reunification is not part of JRS representative’s responsibilities, she drafted upon request approximately 10 applications for family reunification, of which 3 were approved.
Specific procedure for unaccompanied children
The Asylum Act provides for a family reunification procedure for unaccompanied children, with specific requirements. The family reunification for unaccompanied minors, beneficiaries of international protection, shall be done with respect to his or her best interests. The procedure may be triggered ex officio by IGI-DAI. In this case the consent of the legal representative and/or the unaccompanied child is also required. In all cases, the unaccompanied child’s views will be taken into account and given due weight.
If the unaccompanied child’s family has been traced, the case officer analyses the possibility and the conditions for carrying out family reunification and issues a reasoned decision in this respect.The decision provided may be challenged under the same conditions as a decision delivered by IGI-DAI in the Regular Procedure.
IGI-DAI shall take, as soon as possible, the necessary measures to trace the unaccompanied child’s family, while protecting his or her best interests. The unaccompanied child’s opinion on the tracing of his or her family is taken into account and given the due importance, in relation to his or her age and maturity.
The data and information collected for the purpose of family tracing are processed in accordance with the principle of confidentiality, especially when the life or physical integrity of a child or his or her close family who have remained in the country of origin is endangered.
According to Save the Children, it is rather NGOs than IGI-DAI that assist unaccompanied children to initiate the family reunification procedure. Nevertheless, there were not many cases of family reunification for unaccompanied children in 2019.
According to IOM Romania, the reunification procedure is triggered at the request of the child through the legal representative. The AIDrom representative stated that, according to her knowledge, the NGOs triggered the family reunification procedure for unaccompanied children.
In Galaţi, it was reported that an unaccompanied child who applied for family reunification requested the assistance of the NGO representative, who was in contact with IGI-DAI and his legal representative.
In Rădăuţi, the reunification procedure is triggered by the NGOs.
The same was reported in Şomcuta Mare; the NGOs are initiating the procedure, taking care of the documents, with the legal representative’s support and approval. However, according to the ASSOC representative, IGI-DAI is triggering the reunification procedure for unaccompanied minors.
Time limits and duration
The law prescribes that the family reunification procedure must be completed as soon as possible, not exceeding 9 months from the date the application was made. If further checks are required, the 9-month period may be extended by up to 6 months.
Timișoara: The family reunification procedure takes around 6 months. In comparison with 2017, in 2018 the procedure at the level of the National Centre for Visas for foreigners who want to travel to Romania did not delay the process. In 2019 there were no applications for family reunification.
Şomcuta Mare: For an application submitted in February 2019, the parents of the unaccompanied minor arrived in Romania in October 2019. Another unaccompanied minor lodged the application in September 2018 and received the approval in March 2019. According to the ASSOC representative, the duration of the procedure depends on the country of origin of the family members, and their ability to communicate with the embassies. For example, in Afghanistan they do not have identity documents and they only request them when the reunification procedure starts; this procedure also takes time.
Rădăuţi: The family members arrived within 2-3 months of the registration of the family reunification application, but there were also cases when they arrived within 2-3 weeks. IGI-DAI is assessing the applications swiftly within 1-2 weeks.
Bucharest: The average duration of the procedure is 6 months.
Giurgiu: The procedure takes 8-12 months.
Galaţi: The procedure takes 6-9 months, but not more than 9 months. There were no cases where the 6 months timeline was exceeded.
In 2019, 123 applications for family reunification were submitted, of which 46 from nationals of Somalia, 45 from Syria, 10 from Iraq, 9 from Afghanistan, 4 from Turkey, 2 from Cameroon, 2 from Rwanda, 2 from Palestine, 1 from Comoros, 1 from Bangladesh and 1 from a stateless person. IGI-DAI took 95 decisions, of which 79 were admitted and 16 dismissed (12 Somalia and 4 Syria).
 Article 71(1) Asylum Act.
 Article 71(3) Asylum Act.
 Article 30(1) Asylum Decree.
 Article 30(2) Asylum Decree.
 Article 30(3) Asylum Decree.
 Article 30(4) Asylum Decree.
 Article 30(5) Asylum Decree.
 Information provided by ASSOC, 5 March 2020.
 Information provided by IOM, 18 November 2019.
 Article 72(1) Asylum Act.
 Article 72(2) Asylum Act.
 Article 72(2) Asylum Act.
 Article 72(3) Asylum Act.
 Article 72(4) Asylum Act.
 Article 73(1) Asylum Act.
 Article 73(2) Asylum Act.
 Article 73(3) Asylum Act.
 Information provided by ASSOC, 5 March 2020.
 Article 31(4) Asylum Decree.
 Information provided by ASSOC, 5 March 2020.
 Information provided by IGI-DAI, 20 February 2020.