Essential information for refugees in Greece:
Dublin family reunification and Brexit
Who are we?
Refugee Legal Support (RLS) is an organisation set up in 2017 by British immigration lawyers. RLS has a small team working in Athens, Greece. We help people prepare for their asylum interviews and provide information and assistance in family reunification cases.
What is Dublin family reunification?
‘Dublin’ refers to the Dublin III Regulations – EU law which determines the EU member state responsible for a person’s asylum claim. ‘Dublin’ countries are EU countries plus Norway, Iceland, Switzerland and Lichtenstein. Dublin contains provisions for asylum seekers to be reunited with their families through a process called family reunification.
If your Dublin family reunification case is successful you will be transferred to the country where your family is – you then go through the asylum process in that country. You do not automatically receive a visa in that country because your family reunification case has been successful.
Who can apply for Dublin family reunification?
Adults can apply to reunite with their unmarried minor children, or their husband/wife. The family members should be asylum seekers or have protection status, depending on the case.
Children can apply to reunite with their parents/legal guardians, siblings, grandparents, aunts/uncles. The family members just need to be legally present in the other country.
In some cases adults can apply to reunite with unmarried partners. Adults can also sometimes apply to reunite with their adult children or other family members. However, they should have serious reasons to do so – such as established dependency on that family member, or other humanitarian reasons. The threshold for this kind of application is very high, and not everyone is able to make them.
How does it work?
You must claim asylum in Greece in order to ask for family reunification. When you attend your registration appointment at the Asylum Service and get your “White Card” / “Ausweis”, you must tell the authorities you have family in a Dublin country and you want to be reunited with them.
You must provide signed consent from yourself and your family member that you want to be reunited with. You should give the Greek Asylum Service your family member’s telephone number, email and postal address. You should also give the Greek Asylum Service documents confirming your family member’s status in the receiving country and evidence of your family relationship. Translate documents into the receiving country’s language or English if possible.
Greece should send the request to the receiving country to ‘Take Charge’ of your asylum claim. It is very important that this request is sent by Greece within 3 months. If you want to be transferred to join family members in Germany, you should be aware that there is even less time available for the Take Charge Request to be sent as Germany count the 3 months’ time limit from the date that you are fingerprinted in Greece, rather than from the date your asylum claim is registered in Greece and your White Card is issued.
The receiving country then has 2 months to answer – if they do not reply that means they automatically accept responsibility for your asylum claim.
If the receiving country refuses the request for family reunification, you can request that they re-examine your case within 3 weeks.
If the receiving country accepts the request for family reunification, you should be transferred to that country within 6 months. Your flights will be arranged and paid for by the Greek authorities.
What should I do?
It is extremely important that you make sure that the Greek authorities are aware of your request for Dublin family reunification, and that you make sure that you and the family member in another country have signed consent forms. Keep copies of these and other documents that go to the Greek Asylum Service. Ask the Greek Asylum Service for a copy of the ‘Take Charge Request’.
The same is true for the family member you are applying to be reunited with. You firstly need to make sure that they are aware of your application and consent to being reunited with you where they are.
Check with the Greek Asylum Service regularly to see if there has been a response or request for further documents. It is very important that you respond to requests for further information as soon as possible. If you are told that your case has been refused, ask for a copy of the refusal letter.
What is Brexit?
Brexit refers to the fact that the UK left the EU on 31st January 2020.
Will Brexit affect me?
Even though the UK left the EU on 31st January 2020, there will be a ‘transition period’ until 31st December 2020. During this transition period, Dublin family reunification will stay the same.
That means that if you have eligible family members in the UK you can still apply for family reunification as normal until 31st December 2020.
Is it certain that Dublin family reunification will change after December 31st 2020?
No. The ‘transition period’ could be extended. However, the British prime minister says he does not want to extend it. If it is going to be extended, a decision must be made before 1st July 2020.
What happens if I receive a decision on my family reunion case after December 31st 2020?
If Greece sent a request to the UK to ‘take charge’ of your asylum case before 31st December 2020, the same Dublin laws apply however if the UK has not answered within 2 months, this does not necessarily mean that they accept. And if you receive a refusal after 31st December 2020 it is not guaranteed that you will be able to request a re-examination in the usual way.
What will happen after December 31st 2020?
At the moment this is unclear. The UK has its own laws about refugees and other migrants bringing family members so there will be other legal ways to reunite with family. As things become clearer we will publish more information, so make sure to check this page and our Facebook profile for updates as they happen.