Family reunion and family reunification are two procedures that allow foreigners to bring in family members. However, these two procedures are sometimes confused. Indeed, one or the other of these procedures apply separately, subject to fulfilling certain conditions.

Family reunion

The family reunification procedure is complex and requires compliance with several conditions.

Family reunification allows foreigners living in France to bring their spouse and children. Indeed, this procedure only concerns the families of foreigners. In this case, the family consists of the spouse and minor children under the age of 18.

Beneficiaries of family reunification

Family reunification exclusively concerns the spouse and children of the foreigner living in France.

The spouse and children of the foreigner living in France

  1. The spouse must be at least 18 years old and be married abroad living in France.
  2. The children concerned by this procedure must be under the age of 18, on the day of the request, and:

– from the couple

– whose parentage is only established with regard to foreigners living in France or their spouse;

– the other parent of which is deceased or deprived of his parental rights, subject to producing a decision from a foreign court;

– adopted or collected under the Kafala subject to producing a decision of a foreign jurisdiction.

Exclusions from the family reunification procedure

  • Ascendants (parents) and collaterals (brothers and sisters);
  • French family members;
  • Spouses and children of refugees, stateless persons and beneficiaries of subsidiary protection;
  • The spouse and children of the foreigner holding a “long-term-EU” resident card, a “talent passport” or “ICT seconded employee” residence card.

The conditions to be fulfilled in the family reunification procedure

To be able to benefit from this procedure, several conditions must be met.

The conditions linked to the family’s residence at the time of the application.

Generally speaking, a family member already residing in France cannot benefit from this procedure.

On the other hand and in certain cases, the member of the family already in France can benefit from a family reunification on the spot. In this regard, both spouses must be married in France and hold a residence permit.

Conditions linked to the applicant’s situation

First, only foreigners who are regularly present in France can bring in their family members.

Second, the foreign applicant must be present regularly in France for at least 18 months from the date of the application.

Conditions related to the applicant’s resources

First of all, if the applicant does not justify stable and sufficient resources, the benefit of the procedure can be refused.

Overall, the amount of resources is assessed according to the size of the family and is calculated on the basis of the last twelve months preceding the filing of the application.

In this case, the amount of resources corresponds to the amount of the minimum wage:

  • for a family of two or three people;
  • increased by one tenth for a family of four or five people;
  • increased by one fifth for a family of six or more.


On the other hand, the means test does not apply for the foreigner:

  • beneficiary of the allowance for disabled adults;
  • beneficiary of the supplementary invalidity allowance;
  • over 65, legally residing in France for at least 20 years and married for at least 10 years.

Conditions related to family housing

The housing conditions are assessed according to the area compared to the number of occupants expected. Thus, the total living area must be at least equal to 22, 24 or 28 m², depending on the location of the accommodation, for two people, increased by 10 m² for each additional person.

The procedure for family reunification

The application for family reunification is presented on a form with the supporting documents.

The complete file must be submitted to the territorially competent French Office for Immigration and Integration (OFII).

Once the file is complete, the OFII issues a deposit certificate. Also, receipt of the certificate causes the examination period of six months to run by the administration.

After checking the documents in the file and issuing the certificate of filing of the application, the OFII sends a copy of the file to the mayor of the municipality of the applicant. The mayor has two months to make a decision.

The prefect has six months to render his decision from the date of the initial request.. However, the absence of a decision within this period is deemed to be the rejection of the application for family reunification. 

Lastly, the foreigner who brings his family to France outside of the family reunion runs the risk of having their residence permit withdrawn.

Family reunification


The family reunification procedure allows members of the family of a foreigner benefiting from international protection to settle in France.

Beneficiaries of family reunification

Family members of foreigners who are beneficiaries of refugee status or subsidiary protection may benefit from family reunification, if:

  • the marriage or civil union is prior to the date of submission of the asylum application, or if a cohabitation is sufficiently stable and continuous in the event of cohabitation;
  • the couple’s children do not exceed their 19th birthday and are not married.

If the refugee or the beneficiary of subsidiary protection is an unmarried minor, he / she benefits from his right to be joined by his / her direct ascendants in the first degree, accompanied, if applicable, by their unmarried minor children for whom they are effectively responsible.

The age of the children is assessed on the date on which the application for family reunification is made.

The conditions to be fulfilled and the procedure to be followed

Family reunification is not subject to conditions of prior duration of regular stay, resources or housing.

Members of the family of the beneficiary of international protection apply for a long-stay “family reunification” visa from the French consulate in the country of origin.