Family reunification

Anyone who is not safe in their own country can obtain protection in the Netherlands (asylum). Asylum seekers who have a right to this can build a future in the Netherlands. Sometimes, reunification with family members who have stayed behind is part of this. We call this 'family reunification'.

Do you have an asylum residence permit and do you want to bring your family to the Netherlands? Then go to the page family member of a refugee.

Reunification with partner and family members

An asylum seeker can have their married or unmarried partner come here. Any children or foster children are also eligible for reunification. If the asylum seeker is unaccompanied and a minor (under 18), the parents can also come over for family reunification.

Applying to join a family member and proving family ties

An asylum seeker who wants to apply for family reunification must do so within three months after the residence permit has been issued. This is free of charge. The asylum seeker must, however, be able to prove family members’ identities and the family relationship. This is usually done using documents. If the applicant does not have such documents, or is unable to show them, the IND can help with an investigation. For example a DNA test or interview with the applicant and the family member.

Journey to the Netherlands and registration with the IND

Before departing for family reunification, family members are already known to the IND. They will receive a visa that enables them to travel to the Netherlands. The full name for this is a provisional residence permit (in Dutch: machtiging tot voorlopig verblijf or MVV). As soon as the family members and/or partner arrive in the Netherlands, they must register with the IND.

Family reunification desk relocated

It was previously standard procedure that family members registered in Ter Apel for family reunification. This changed in 2021. The registration centre in Ter Apel had in fact been very busy for a long time. By relocating part of the influx of people arriving for family reunification to Zevenaar, the IND has reduced the pressure of work in Ter Apel. In this way, we are able to help more asylum seekers and  family members travelling for family reunification more quickly. 

Family members must register online in Zevenaar

As soon as the airline ticket to the Netherlands has been booked, the family members concerned can make an appointment in Zevenaar online. This is required. Then the IND immediately starts the preparations for the appointment. The Central Agency for the Reception of Asylum Seekers, COA, checks whether housing at the family member in the Netherlands is appropriate.

Once in Zevenaar, the family member will receive the decision from the IND. It says that the person will receive a residence permit. Sometimes the IND also takes biometrics (passport photo, fingerprints and signature). After registration, the family members must also have themselves registered in the Personal Records Database (in Dutch: Basisregistratie Persoonsgegevens or BRP). The local council of Westerwolde does this for all asylum seekers.

Not everyone can come

Keeping the Netherlands safe is an important goal of the IND. So, if someone wants to come to the Netherlands, we always check whether they pose any threat, for example, to public order or national security. We also investigate whether persons arriving here for family reunification have been guilty of war crimes or crimes against humanity. There is no room in the Netherlands for people who commit such serious crimes. They will not receive a residence permit under any circumstances. 



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