Update on 17.05.2021, based on the information provided by Magdalena Bahoudaila, senior protection assistant at UNHCR, during the webinar “Reuniting Refugees with Their Families” on April 29, 2021
You have a right to bring your family members to Bulgaria once you are granted refugee status or subsidiary (humanitarian) protection.
Who you can bring to Bulgaria
- Your spouse or long-term partner
This does not include cases of polygamy where one of your wives is already with you in Bulgaria. You cannot reunite with additional wives even if your country of origin recognizes polygamy.
- Your child who is under 18 and not married, except in rare cases when the best interest of the child is to be with his or her initial family
- Your child who is 18 or older and not married, but only if they are unable to support themselves for serious health reasons
- The parents of each spouse, but only if they can’t live independently due to advanced age or serious illness
The family ties should have already existed before you entered Bulgaria.
If you are an unaccompanied child and you have been granted international protection, you have the right to reunite with your parents. In case they are missing or they have passed away, you have the right to reunite with another adult member of your family.
How to apply
- Apply for asylum in Bulgaria
- Submit a reunification application to the State Agency for Refugees
In your application to reunite with family members, include the following:
- Names of the family members you want to bring to Bulgaria
- Proof of your family connection
For example, you could include a marriage certificate or birth certificates of your children. If these documents are not available, you can include a statement containing the names, dates of birth and location of your family members. Make sure to get this document certified by a notary.
- Your SAR decision
For this process, request help from a lawyer. Learn more:
After you apply
Once you receive permission to reunite with your family, SAR will inform the embassy of Bulgaria in the country where your family members are living. If there is no embassy, the information will be sent to the Bulgarian embassy responsible for that country.
Then, your family members must visit the embassy to receive visas in their passports to travel to Bulgaria. If they do not have passports, the Bulgarian authorities will provide travel documents.
There are fees you need to pay:
- For the visa - 100 еuros. Children under 6 years old do not have to pay this fee.
- For a Certificate to return to the Republic of Bulgaria (in case your family members do not have passports) - 120 euros per person.
Following their arrival in Bulgaria, they have 2 options to obtain a residence permit:
- Apply for a residence permit with the Migration Directorate, valid for 1 year
- Apply with SAR for the same international protection status as yours
If your application is rejected
If the SAR rejects your application to be reunited with your family, you may appeal the decision within 14 days. The judgment of the first administrative court may be appealed before the Supreme Administrative Court. You will need legal assistance to file the lawsuit.
What if you are an asylum seeker?
If you do not have refugee or humanitarian status and your asylum procedure is ongoing, you can ask your asylum application to be reviewed in another Member state of the European Union where you have family members who:
- have refugee or humanitarian status and because of that are allowed to reside in another Member State.
- applied for asylum in another Member State and there is yet no decision on their application.
The family members with whom you can reunite are:
- Your spouse or partner with whom you are in a stable relationship.
- Your children under 18, who are unmarried, regardless of whether they were born in or out of wedlock or adopted.
- Your child (over 18 years old), sibling or parent legally resident in one of the Member States who are dependent on your assistance (or you are dependent on theirs) because of pregnancy, newborn, serious illness, severe disability or old age.
In order to unite with these family members, you need to express your desire in writing to the State Agency for Refugees as soon as possible and no later than 3 months after you submit your asylum application.
If you are an unaccompanied child and your asylum procedure is ongoing, you can ask to be reunited with your family members (parents, sisters or brothers over 18 years old, aunt, uncle) who reside legally somewhere on the territory of the European Union. Your family members should prove that they can take care of you.
If your request is approved the transfer should happen within 6 months.
If your request is rejected
You may appeal the decision within 7 days before the administrative court. The judgment of the court is final. Seek legal assistance to file the lawsuit.
If you need help finding a family member
For more information watch this recording from the webinar that took place on 29.04.2021г.:
This article is updated under the project "Legal aid to financially disadvantaged refugees and immigrants during a pandemic by using and improving the Migrantlife.Bg platform", implemented by the Foundation for Access to Rights - FAR with the financial support of the Active Citizens Fund of Bulgaria under the Financial Mechanism of the European Economic Area.
The project "Legal aid to financially disadvantaged refugees and immigrants during a pandemic by using and improving the Migrantlife.Bg platform" is implemented with financial support in the amount of EUR 10,000 provided by Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway under the EEA Financial Mechanism. The main goal of the project “Legal aid to financially disadvantaged refugees and immigrants during a pandemic by using and improving the Migrantlife.Bg platform” is to offer modern digital solutions for access to reliable information and a lawyer during a pandemic.
The entire responsibility for the content of this article lies with the Foundation for Access to Rights - FAR and under no circumstances it can be assumed that this content reflects the official opinion of the Financial Mechanism of the European Economic Area and the Operator of the Active Citizens Fund Bulgaria.