Can my family join me in the UK?

Family Reunification by the UK government

It is difficult and heartbreaking to be separated from your family. Refugee Info Bus have made this Fact Sheet to give you information about how you can be reunified with your family.


There are different ways that you can request family reunification and different conditions that apply.  


This fact sheet is for people with asylum, humanitarian protection or who are part of a resettlement program in the UK and want to request family reunion from the UK government.


This is not the only way you can request family reunification. Please look at Refugee Info Bus Fact Sheets on family reunion under Dublin III and family visas for more information on family reunion.


If you have refugee status, humanitarian protection status or if you are admitted under a resettlement program you can request family reunion under the UK government.


You do not have to be earning money, be in the country you are living in for a certain amount of time or be able to speak the language to request family reunion by the UK Government (you do for a family visa).


Your family members do not have to be in Europe to request family reunion under the UK Government (they do for family reunion under Dublin III).


You do not need to pay to request family reunion in the UK.


Your family members are given the same permission to stay in the UK as you. For refugee status and humanitarian protection this is normally 5 years and  the ability to stay permanently if the situation in your home country has not changed in this time.


You will have to prove that the relationships with your family members you are requesting reunification with exist, are genuine and existed before you requested asylum. 

You can prove this through legal documents including passports, testimonies from witnesses who know you, social media records of your relationships, DNA tests and other forms of evidence.


You can request family reunification for:

  1. Spouses, civil-union partners or common law spouses

  2. You or your spouse/ partner’s children


IMPORTANT: You may be able to apply under this route if you are a parent, brother, sister, or other kind of relative.  However it is much for difficult in these situations and you will need a lot of evidence and specialist advice.  It is however easier to apply under these categories if you are in France.  

 If you have been separated from your family members in Europe the rules for this are different, please look at the Refugee Info Bus Dublin III family reunion Fact Sheet.


  1. Your spouse, civil-union partner or common law spouse


Your relationship with your spouse, civil-union partner or common law spouse must have existed before you left your home country. 


You must have the intention of living together in the UK.

You must be able to prove, either:

  1. You are married/in a civil-union partnership which is legally recognised in the country it took place

Some types of marriages, like religious of cultural marriage, are not legally recognised and so you cannot apply for family reunification as a spouse. You might be able to apply as a common-law spouse instead .

The UK does not allow marriage to more than one person. This means you can only request family reunification for one spouse or civil-union partner.

You have to be able to prove that any previous marriages/ civil-union partnerships you have been in the past have ended.

  2. You are in a common-law marriage and you have lived continuously and stably together for 2 years.

You have to be able to prove your relationship. This is can be proved if you have evidence of a non-legally recognised marriage (for example, a religious marriage) or if have had children together.


2. Your children


This includes:

  • Your children from current and previous relationships

  • Children of your spouse/partner, but only if the other parent can be proved to not have parental responsibility (for example, they are dead)

  • Legally adopted children (this does not include children who cannot be proved to be legally adopted)

The children you are applying for family reunification for must be under 18.

The children you are applying for family reunification for must not be living independently (for example they cannot be married or have their own children).


Unborn and newly born children need to have been conceived before you left your home country.


There are sometimes exceptional circumstances which means you can request family reunification for family members who are not on this list (for example a family member has a disability or another compassionate factor). Requesting family reunion using exceptional circumstances is very unusual but you should talk to a lawyer if you think your family member is eligible.

If you family member is not eligible to join you by family reunion they might be able to join you with family reunion under Dublin III or through a family visa, please look at the fact sheets on this.

This page is run by the UK registered charity, Refugee Info Bus - for more info on our work, check out our website. 

PO BOX:  Po Box 28652, Edinburgh, EH4 9EX

Registered UK Charity Number: 1168538

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Instagram