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Ensuring the right to family reunification of migrants and refugees

“The right to family life applies to everyone, including refugees and migrants,” said the Migration Committee, which called on member States to “develop common guidelines” to implement the right to family reunification. “Families must not be torn apart and they should not be prevented from reuniting after an often dangerous departure from their country of origin,” the parliamentarians said, approving the report by Ulla Sandbæk (Denmark, UEL).

According to the draft resolution adopted today by the committee, persons fleeing persecution or war have the right to international protection and their separated family members as well; States should therefore ensure consistency in granting refugee status to the members of the same family.

Noting the introduction in many member States of selective policies aimed at limiting family reunification, the committee considered that States should not substitute ‘subsidiary or temporary protection status’ for ‘refugee status’ instead, visas being often refused to family members who have not been granted refugee status. It also regretted high financial requirements or long waiting periods for migrants who apply for visas for their family.

Stressing that family reunification is often hindered by the fact that the whereabouts of family members are unknown, the committee also recommended that national authorities register all migrants upon arrival, and share such data with other member States, in particular through the EU Schengen Information System.

Finally, the committee proposed that the Committee of Ministers develop guidelines for the application of the right to family reunification of refugees and migrants as well as mutual legal assistance and administrative co-operation between member States and with third countries.