About family reunification

If you have been granted international protection (recognized refugee or subsidiary protection status) in Belgium, you have the right to bring over particular members of your family to join you. This procedure of 'family reunification', as it is called in Article 10 of the Belgian Act of 15 December 1980 on access to the territory, residence, establishment and removal of foreigners, as amended, applies to specific family members who stayed behind in your country of origin or who are living in another country.

Under the Belgian legislation, only particular family members are eligible for the family-reunification procedure. If they meet the legal criteria and can supply the required documentary evidence, five categories of individuals can join you in Belgium "as of right" pursuant to Article 10:

  • your spouse;
  • your children aged under 18;
  • your disabled children aged 18 or over;
  • if you are an unaccompanied minor (i.e. aged under 18), your parents and any brothers and sisters aged under 18 or any disabled brothers and sisters aged 18 or over. 

Is family reunification a possibility for you?

Other members of your family (your able-bodied children aged 18 or over and grandchildren, nephews, nieces, de facto partners, etc.) cannot join you in Belgium under the family-reunification arrangements. However, under certain circumstances they can apply for a Belgian residence permit on humanitarian grounds, based on Articles 9 and 13 of the Act mentioned above.

Unlike family reunification, a humanitarian visa is not a right but a goodwill gesture by the Belgian authorities to a family member who wants to join you in Belgium but is not an eligible family member under Article 10. Belgian law does not stipulate any specific requirements to be awarded a humanitarian visa. Instead, the decision is left to the discretion of the Belgian Immigration Office, which examines on a case-by-case basis whether the circumstances – which must be appropriately substantiated – meet the criteria for the relevant family member to take up residence in Belgium. However, we draw your attention in this connection to the potentially lengthy and complex nature of the family reunification and humanitarian visa processes.

This website only provides information on family reunification for recognized refugees or beneficiaries of subsidiary protection in Belgium. Given the complexity of the humanitarian visa application process, we suggest you consult a lawyer or an organization that can provide legal advice. The Red Cross cannot assist you with any humanitarian visa application.

We refer you to the following websites: