The 1951 United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees defines a refugee as:-
"A person who owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality and is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country"
Unfortunately, as a result of war, conflict and persecution, many thousands of people are forced to flee their countries of origin and seek protection in other countries. Sadly, due to the often urgent need to flee from their home country, many asylum seekers are forced to leave behind their loved ones resulting in the break-up of the family unit. This can leave asylum seekers in a difficult and distressing situation, often facing life on their own in a new and unfamiliar country.
In the UK, the Home Office recognise this challenging situation and have addressed this problem through their family reunion policy. This policy allows for those granted refugee status in the UK to be reunited with their families and rebuild their lives together here.
Under Part 11 of the UK Immigration Rules, refugees and those granted Humanitarian Protection are entitled to be reunited with their families. Under this provision, spouses, civil partners, unmarried partners and minor children who formed part of the refugee’s family unit before they fled their country of origin can apply to come to the UK to be reunited with their family. The Home Office do not charge a fee for this application.
If an application for Family Reunion is successful, the family member will be granted leave in line with their refugee sponsor. This means that they will have the right to the same entitlements as their sponsor for example access to public funds. In addition, their leave to remain in the UK will expire at the same time as their sponsor’s. If an application is refused, the applicant may have a right of appeal to the Immigration and Asylum Tribunal.
The Family Reunion policy does not include any other family members other than those mentioned above, however these family members may be able to reunite with their family under other provisions of the UK Immigration Rules. It is recommended that specialist legal advice is taken for this type of application.