Family members of Refugees may choose to apply for asylum in the same EU country

For many asylum seekers, choosing the country of asylum is already a complex issue – it gets even more complicated when the country they want to apply for asylum in, is actually not responsible for the review of their asylum application under the EU “Dublin” regulation.

Syrian Refugee asylum application

Indeed there is a misunderstanding in the media that asylum seekers can only apply to the country they arrived first. However, the regulation sets out a more complex list of criteria for determining which EU member state where an asylum seeker can concretely apply for asylum. 

Understanding this mechanisms makes it easier to determine the country in which an asylum application can be lodged. It may also allow applicants to join family members that previously applied for asylum in the EU.

Applying for asylum in an EU country where family is already resident
Notably, any asylum seeking applicant with a family member (regardless of whether the family was previously formed in the country of origin) currently allowed to reside in a EU member state as a beneficiary of international protection (refugee status or subsidiary protection for instance), can apply for asylum in that same country. It is this country that is responsible for examining the application for asylum, provided that the person concerned expressed this desire in writing.

For example, a Syrian in Italy can express in writing his desire to join his partner recognized as a refugee in France. Unless an express request is made, the transfer won’t happened.

Same mechanism applies if the applicant has a family member in a member state whose application for international protection is pending and has not yet been the subject of a first decision.

An Afghani located in France can apply to join his partner currently living in the UK If that partner has made an application for asylum in the UK.

What is a family member?
Note however that for the purpose of the regulation “family member” does only include:

– the spouse of the applicant or his or her unmarried partner in a stable relationship (where the law or practice of the member state concerned treats unmarried couples in a way comparable to married couples under its law);

– the minor children of couples referred to in the first indent or of the applicant;

– when the applicant is a minor and unmarried, the father, mother or another adult responsible for the applicant;

– when the beneficiary of international protection is a minor and unmarried, the father, mother or another adult responsible for him.

According to French judges, this mechanism does not apply to siblings (CE, réf., 24 décembre 2007, n° 311677) and to extended family. Read more about how to apply for asylum in France on Migreat blog

For example, this mechanism does not apply to a Syrian in Germany willing to join his brother who is a refugee in France.

The “Dublin” regulation sets out other criteria for the determination of the responsible member state taking into consideration the interests of minors, family procedure, issue of residence documents or visas, entry and/or stay in another member state, visa waived entry, application in an international transit area


You can ask further details to Migreat expert and author of this article, Lou-Salomé Sorlin, lawyer in France specialised in refugee law and immigration law (focus on asylum applications – Afghanistan, Iran, Egypt, Syria, Iraq, etc.; advocacy; risks of detention, expulsion and extradition).

Photo credit:

Read more on the refugee crisis and its latest news by clicking on the EU refugee crisis tag.

5 thoughts on “Family members of Refugees may choose to apply for asylum in the same EU country”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s