Eligible family members
Family members with whom the beneficiary of refugee status or subsidiary protection can be reunited are:
- The spouse, registered partner or partner with whom the applicant for family reunification has been living in a long-term relationship;
- Minor unmarried children of the beneficiary:
- minor unmarried children of the spouse, registered partner or partner with whom the applicant has been living in a long-term relationship;
- Adult children and parents of the applicant or the spouse, registered partner or partner with whom the applicant has been living in a long-term relationship, if the applicant or the spouse, registered partner or partner with whom the applicant has been living in a long-term relationship is obliged to support them under the law of their country; and
- Parents of an unaccompanied child.
In exceptional cases, the determining authority can also consider other relatives if special circumstances speak in favour of family reunification in the Republic of Slovenia. Special circumstances exist when there is a family community established between other relatives, which is essentially similar to and has the same function as a primary family, especially in terms of genuine family ties, physical care, security, protection, emotional support and financial dependence. This provision was included in the law on the basis of a Constitutional Court decision from January 2015. The provision is applied in practice as applicants are able to reunite with their parents, siblings and other family members if their claim is eligible. In one case the applicant was able to reunite with their spouse, children and the applicant’s mother. In another case a child was able to reunite with underage siblings.
Conditions and procedure
Generally, there is no waiting period for a beneficiary of international protection to apply for family reunification after being granted international protection status. The only exception is made in the law for beneficiaries who have been granted subsidiary protection for one year – they obtain the right to family reunification after their status is extended. The new amendments to the Foreigners Act state that beneficiaries of international protection can start the family reunification process after the decision on their status becomes final. In practice, this means that if persons with subsidiary protection decide to appeal against a decision, they cannot start the family reunification procedure until the procedure is finished and the decision on status becomes final.
Persons with refugee status and subsidiary protection longer than one year can apply for family reunification immediately after the decision granting them status becomes final.
There are no other differences regarding the criteria and conditions for family reunification between persons with refugee status and subsidiary protection.
Persons enjoying either refugee status or subsidiary protection have to apply for family reunification within 90 days from the moment the decision on their status becomes final (or on the extension of subsidiary protection if it was granted for one year) in order to enjoy the more favourable conditions available to beneficiaries of international protection. In case the beneficiary does not apply in 90 days, the family member must meet the general conditions for family reunification that apply to all foreigners in Slovenia: possession of a valid passport, health insurance and sufficient financial means.
In 2022, 75 applications for family reunification were submitted. 71 were submitted by persons with refugee status and 4 were submitted by a person with subsidiary protection. 31 applications were submitted for nationals of Syria, 14 for nationals of Somalia, 10 for nationals of Afghanistan, 4 for nationals of Cameroon, 4 for national of Congo, 3 for nationals of Central African Republic, 3 for nationals of Iran, 1 for national of Eritrea and 1 for national of Senegal. The applications made by beneficiaries with subsidiary protection were made for nationals of Afghanistan.
The Migration directorate issued 58 decisions on family reunification. 13 applications were granted – 9 applications were granted to family members of refugees and 4 to family members of persons with subsidiary protection – 33 applications were rejected and 11 procedures were interrupted because the applicants did not submit the necessary documents or proof.
The authorities impose strict criteria regarding the required documents to establish identity and links with family members, which can be problematic for citizens of countries where the acquisition of such official documents is difficult or impossible. Applicants for family reunification notably have had difficulties obtaining original or notarised documents of family members in order to prove family ties. They also have had problems obtaining identification documents for family members, especially where the family members reside outside their country of origin.
Only official documents with a picture issued by the country of origin are accepted as proof of identity and family links. In case the applicant cannot submit an original identification document from the family member’s country of origin of original proof of links the Migration directorate also accepts documents issued by international organisations (UNHCR, IOM, Red Cross) under the condition that the document has a picture. For proving family links original birth certificates, marriage certificates issued by the state or in some cases the church will suffice. If identity or family links cannot be established through original documents the Migration directorate can ask an international organisation working in the field of migration (UNHCR, IOM, Red Cross) to establish the family members’ identity or family links.
Before issuing the decision, the Migration directorate can also conduct a personal interview with the beneficiary in order to gather additional information on family members, the submitted documents, inability to provide original documents, family links etc. Submitted documents regarding identity and family links are sent to the National Forensic Laboratory that verifies their authenticity. Before issuing the positive decision a security check of family members is also performed by the Police.
When family reunification is approved the Migration directorate issues a residence permit with a validity of 90 days to the family member. The family member does not have to give fingerprints or other biometrical data in order for the residence permit to be issued. If the family member does not have a passport from the country of origin the Migration directorate also issues a passport for foreigners with a validity of 90 days. With the documents the family members can travel to and enter Slovenia. If they are unable to travel to Slovenia in 90 days the Migration directorate can issue new documents. The beneficiary has to pay for all documents issued by the Migration directorate. Therefore, the applicants normally request the documents and start organising the travel when it is evident the family will be able to arrive in the 90-day time frame. Documents can only be given to family members by a Slovenian embassy or consulate. In case there is no Slovenian embassy in the country where the family member is located the documents can also be served by an international organisation working in the field of migration (UNHCR, IOM, Red Cross). Sending Slovenian documents (passports and residence permits) to countries without IOM, UNHCR and Slovenian representations presented difficulties in the cases of Syrian, Afghan and Palestinian nationals, whenever the documents cannot be served in the country where the family member is located they have to travel to another country to obtain the documents. In some cases, family members have struggled in obtaining exit visas. When the family members arrive in Slovenia they have to give their biometrical data in 30 days based on which the Migration directorate issues new residence permits with the same validity as the permit of the beneficiary.
Vulnerable family members often request the assistance of IOM when travelling to Slovenia. Covering the cost of the assistance is the responsibility of the beneficiary.
Family reunification procedures were not suspended during the pandemic. Strict rules for entry into Slovenia were in place, meaning that an individual had to submit a negative COVID-19 test at the border. In practice, travel restrictions in countries of origin or countries of transit prolonged the duration of the family reunification process, as individuals were unable to leave the country they were in.
 Articles 47.a(2) and 47.b(2) Foreigners Act.
 Articles 47.a(4) and 47.b(4) Foreigners Act.
 Article 47a(3) and 47b(3) Foreigners Act.
 Articles 47.a(7) and 47.b(6) Foreigners Act.
 Official statistics provided by the Migration directorate, March 2023.
 Articles 47.a(3) and 47.b(3) Foreigners Act.
 Article 98(5) Foreigners Act.
 Article 47.a(9) and 47.b(9) Foreigners Act.