Family reunification

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If you have completed your asylum procedure in Switzerland and would like to bring other family members to Switzerland, but the legal advice office for asylum seekers in your canton can not help you... We are here to advise you.

Prerequisites for family reunification

You must have completed your asylum procedure before you can apply for family reunification. There are different prerequisites for bringing family members to Switzerland, depending on the residence status of the person already here.

If you only became a family after you fled your country, the provisions for persons with a residence permit apply (see ‘Persons with temporary admission and ‘Persons with a residence permit’).

If you lived together as a family before you left your home country and were separated from your relatives due to the flight, your family members can also obtain asylum in Switzerland. There are exceptional circumstances under which this is not possible: for example, if you have broken off the relationship or if your family members are citizens of another country and the whole family could live in that other country.

The Foreign Nationals and Integration Act (FNIA) states that once you receive temporarily admitted refugee status, you must wait three years before you can apply for family reunification. In practice, however, the Swiss authorities already examine applications after two years. The other prerequisites are:

  • Sufficiently large apartment for the whole family

  • Not receiving social benefits

  • Not receiving complementary benefits

  • Your family members abroad speak the language of your place of residence in Switzerland at A1 level or have signed up for a language course

  • The time limit for family reunification must be complied with (see ‘Time limits’)

The prerequisites are as follows:

  • Sufficiently large apartment for the whole family

  • Not receiving social benefits

  • Not receiving complementary benefits

  • Your family members abroad speak the language of your place of residence in Switzerland at A1 level or have signed up for a language course

  • The time limit for family reunification must be complied with

  • You must submit your application for family reunification within five years of receiving your residence status in Switzerland.

  • If you receive a residence permit before founding a family, your application must be submitted within five years of founding a family.

  • For children over 12 years old, the time limit is only one year from the moment the residence permit is received or the family is founded.

  • If you hold an F permit, the five-year or one-year time limit for family reunification starts once the waiting period has expired.

  • Once you have gone past the time limit, family reunification is only possible under important family circumstances and is very rarely granted.

Which family members can come to Switzerland?

You can bring the following third-party state nationals to join you here. Third-party state nationals are people who are not citizens of Switzerland or an EU/EFTA country.

Family reunification is possible for:

  • underaged children

  • spouse

  • registered partner

If you would like to bring your underaged children to live with you here, you must apply for family reunification before their 18th birthday.

Other family members can only be brought to Switzerland under the family reunification rules under extremely exceptional circumstances, such as if they are very dependent on you.

Procedure

What is the procedure if I want to apply for family reunification?

Family reunification step by step

See the ‘Prerequisites for family reunification’ section. During the asylum procedure, if you have any questions about family reunification, please contact your assigned legal representation or legal advice service.

First of all, it is best to contact the legal advice office in your canton. They can help you check whether you fulfil the criteria.

If you fulfil the criteria, you can submit your application. Depending on your residence status, you might have to do that at another place.

Recognized refugees (with asylum and separated from their families because they had to flee from their country) should directly contact:

State Secretariat for Migration (SEM)
Quellenweg 6
Wabern

People with temporarily admitted refugee status or a residence permit, should contact the immigration authority in their canton:

What we do

Advice

We provide advice about family reunification in special or complex cases.

Special or complex cases

  • Reverse family reunification (children who bring their parents to Switzerland)

  • Family reunification involving siblings

  • Family reunification involving persons who do not fall within the strict definition of ‘nuclear family’ but for whom there is a special dependent relationship.

  • Subsequent family reunification (after the time limit has passed)

  • Family reunification involving ‘working poor’

  • Family reunification involving particular social benefit circumstances

In some cases we cannot help you

The Family Reunification Service is unable to help you with the following issues:

  • Travel costs

  • Lawyer’s fees

  • Family reunification for persons without legal residential status (sans-papiers)

  • Persons under the Dublin system or asylum procedure

  • Family reunification by people who have never undergone an asylum procedure, e.g. people with an EU/EFTA residence permit.

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We are committed to improving how the current law is applied.

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