Updated information on 31.01.2023.
You have the right to bring your family to Bulgaria once you have been granted refugee status or subsidiary (humanitarian) protection.
Who can you bring to Bulgaria?
Your spouse or long-term partner
This does not include cases where you have several wives and one of your wives is already with you in Bulgaria. You cannot reunite with your other wives even if your country of origin recognises polygamy.
Your child who is under 18 and not married, except in rare cases where the child's best interests lie with his or her original family.
Your child who is 18 or over and not married, but only if he or she is unable to support him or herself because of serious health reasons.
Parents of each spouse, but only if they cannot live alone due to advanced age or serious illness.
If you are an unaccompanied child granted international protection, you have the right to be reunited with your parents. If they are missing or deceased, you have the right to be reunited with another adult member of your family.
How to apply for family reunification?
Depending on whether the family relationship started before or after you came to Bulgaria and received protection, there are two different procedures:
1. If the family relationship existed before you came to Bulgaria and before you received international protection.
In this case you should:
Apply for international protection in Bulgaria.
Obtain international protection - refugee or humanitarian status.
Apply for family reunification in the registration and reception centre of the State Agency for Refugees in Bulgaria, where your application for protection has been examined.
In your family reunification application, include the following:
Names of family members you want to bring to Bulgaria.
Proof of your family connection.
For example, you can include a marriage certificate or birth certificates for your children. If these documents are not available, you can submit a declaration containing the names, dates of birth and location of your family members. Remember that the declaration must be certified by a notary.
Your SAR decision granting you protection.
Ask a lawyer for help. Learn more at:
What's next now that you have applied?
Once you are allowed to reunite with your family, the State Agency for Refugees, through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, will inform the Bulgarian embassy/consulate in the country where your family members live. If there is no embassy, the information will be sent to the Bulgarian embassy responsible for that country.
Your family members must then visit the embassy to get visas in their passports to travel to Bulgaria. If they do not have passports, the Bulgarian authorities should provide them with travel documents (certificate of return to the Republic of Bulgaria).
There are fees you have to pay:
For visa - 100 euros. Children under 6 years are exempt from this fee.
For a certificate of return to the Republic of Bulgaria (travel document) in case your family members do not have passports - 120 EUR per person.
Upon arrival in Bulgaria, they should apply for international protection at the registration and reception centres of the State Agency for Refugees.
If my application is rejected?
If the State Agency for Refugees rejects your application for family reunification, you can appeal this decision within 14 days before the administrative court in accordance with your address where you are registered. The decision of the administrative court can be appealed before the Supreme Administrative Court. You will need legal assistance:
2. If the family relationship started after you were granted international protection in Bulgaria.
The following procedure applies to cases where the family members are nationals of third countries outside the European Union.
In this case, you are again required to have refugee or humanitarian status in Bulgaria and to have resided in the country for at least 1 year. The procedure has 3 stages:
STAGE 1: You, as a person already resident in Bulgaria, must apply for reunification with your family.
To do this, you need to submit the following documents in person to Directorate “the Migration ” or the ОДМВР (Regional Directorate of the Ministry of the Interior) in accordance with your address on your ID card,:
Filled-in Application form. It shall state as the ground Art. 24, par. 1, point 13 of the Foreigners in the Republic of Bulgaria Act. They will give you a form at the counter.
A copy of the photo and personal details pages of your family member's valid passport or another travel document with a validity period of at least 6 months from the date of application with.
Evidence of secured housing - a rental agreement, and a notarized declaration from the owner of the home giving their consent your family members to live there .
Evidence of stable, regular, predictable and sufficient means of subsistence, without recourse to the social assistance system, in an amount not less than the minimum monthly wage (780 leva for 2023), the minimum stipend or the minimum pension for the country, for the duration of residence in Bulgaria.
You can prove this, for example, with a bank statement or an employment contract.
Criminal record certificate of your family member, issued by the country of your nationality or the country of your habitual residence. Required only for initial application. You should provide a certified and legalised translation of this document by a professional translator.
Marriage certificate or birth certificate. If issued abroad, you must provide a certified and legalized translation by a professional translator.
If they refuse to recognise the document proving your family relationship, you can take legal action before the Sofia City Court.
If you got married abroad, your marriage must be in a form recognised by the laws of that country. Not all countries, for example, recognise a religious marriage as a formal legal marriage.
Medical documents on the existence of serious health reasons in cases where you want to reunite with your child who is 18 years old or over and has serious health problems.
When reunited with your spouse, both of you will be interviewed to determine if the marriage is genuine and not a scam, for the sole purpose of obtaining a residence permit. This would be a ground for refusing to grant you family reunification.
Your application is considered within 1 month after coordination with the State Agency for National Security and the Consular Relations Directorate of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (DCO - MFA).
You will be notified of the decision in writing at the address you have given for contact or at the address on your ID card. Therefore, check your mailbox regularly.
If you are refused reunification with your family, you can appeal against this decision to the administrative court of your address within 14 days.
STAGE 2: Issuance of visa
If you are allowed to reunite with your family within 6 months of being notified of the decision, your family member must apply in person for a long-stay visa (D visa) at a Bulgarian embassy in the country where they are living permanently.
The application for a visa for children under the age of 14 must be submitted by their legal representatives or a person authorised to represent the child on behalf of the legal representative.
The visa application for children between 14 and 18 years old shall be signed by the child and countersigned by their legal representatives, guardians or other authorised persons.
You will need to book an appointment in advance to submit your documents at the embassy.
Visa application form. samples in Bulgarian, English, Turkish, French and Russian You will find here.
A valid foreign travel document containing at least two blank pages and issued within the previous 10 years.
A photocopy of the pages of the travel document with the personal data and the visa(s) applied for and/or a photocopy of the residence permit(s) held for the next countries on the itinerary and for the country of destination, if required;
Photograph scanned or taken at the time of application;
Your family member will be fingerprinted ten times;
Proof of paid visa fee - 100 EUR.
Foreign nationals who are under 12 years of age at the date of visa application are exempt from fees for the acceptance and processing of visa applications.
In addition to these documents, your family member must carry
The decision by which you are permitted to assemble;
The documents from STAGE 1.
The refusal to issue a D visa to your family member can be appealed within 14 days before the administrative court. In this case, you must prove that your right to family life has been violated.
Get legal help from a lawyer specialising in migration law:
STAGE 3: Issue of residence permit.
Once your family member arrives in Bulgaria no later than 14 days before the expiry date of the issued visa, they must go in person to the relevant Directorate “the Migration ” or the ОДМВР (Regional Directorate of the Ministry of the Interior) in accordance with the address where they will live to apply for a continuous residence permit.
The initial documents submitted at Stage 1 should be accompanied by:
A new application form. It shall state as the ground Art. 24, par. 13 of the Foreigners in the Republic of Bulgaria Act. They will give you a form at the counter.
Their valid passport or travel document with a copy of the pages consisting their photo, personal details, visa where required and the stamp of the last entry into the country. The original of the passport shall also be shown to verify the copy.
Compulsory medical insurance valid in Bulgaria.
Proof of paid state fee of 150 BGN, which can be paid on the spot at the Migration Directorate.
The residence permit is issued for a period of up to 1 year and it is renewable.
The refusal to issue a residence permit can be appealed before the administrative court within 14 days. For this, seek legal assistance from a lawyer:
If you are an asylum seeker and have no status
If you do not have refugee or humanitarian status and your refugee procedure is still ongoing, you can ask for your application for protection to be examined in another EU country where you have family members who:
have refugee or humanitarian status and are therefore allowed to stay in another Member State.
have applied for protection in another Member State and there is still no decision on their application.
Family members you reunite with are:
Your spouse or partner with whom you are in a stable relationship.
Your children under 18 who are single, whether born in or out of wedlock or adopted.
Your child (over 18), sibling or parent legally resident in one of the Member States who is dependent on your support (or you are dependent on theirs) because of pregnancy, a newborn, serious illness, severe disability or old age.
To be reunited with these family members, you must express your wish in writing to the State Agency for Refugees as soon as possible and no later than 3 months after submitting your application for protection.
If you are an unaccompanied child and your refugee procedure is ongoing, you can ask to be reunited with family members (parents, siblings over 18, aunt, uncle) who are legally residing somewhere in the EU. They must prove they can look after you.
If your application to be reunited with your family is approved, the transfer must be made within 6 months.
If your application is rejected
You can appeal against the decision within 7 days before the administrative court. The court's decision is final. Get legal help:
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