Family reunification


Who has the right to come and live as a family in Belgium?

Certain family members of Belgian or foreign nationals legally residing in Belgium have the right to come and live with their families in Belgium, under certain conditions. The right to family reunification for these family members must be recognised if they prove, with documents, that the conditions for family reunification are met.

The conditions for family reunification are determined by nationality, age, family relationship (marriage, partnership or lineage) and the residence status of the person entitled to family reunification (limited residence, unrestricted residence, beneficiary of international protection, etc.).

Good to know: under certain conditions, it is possible to come to Belgium to carry out a marriage or legal partnership project and then apply for residence as part of family reunification.

Read more about visa with the purpose of marriage or legal cohabitation in Belgium visa for marriage or cohabitation in Belgium.

Where to submit an application for family reunion?

As a rule, the application for family reunification must be made abroad (visa application). In certain situations, the application can be made in Belgium (residence application).

What is the time period for examining an application for family reunion?

The time period for examining a visa or residence application is determined by the nationality of the person residing in Belgium.

Who decides?

As a rule, the decision is made by the Immigration Office.

When the right to family reunification is recognised (positive decision), the applicant receives a visa and/or a residence permit.

When the right to family reunification is not recognised (negative decision), the applicant may lodge an appeal with the Council for Alien Law Litigation. In some cases, they can ask the Immigration Office to review the decision. The Immigration Office may also suggest that an applicant who has not been able to prove their parentage via documents take a DNA test.
It is also possible to submit a new application.

What are the conditions for residence in Belgium?

The conditions for residence and for renewing the residence permit are communicated when the visa and/or residence permit is issued. If these conditions are not/no longer met, the Immigration Office may terminate the family member's stay. However, this person has a right to be heard before the decision is made.

After having stayed in Belgium for a certain period of time, the family member can apply for settlement or permanent residence.


Victims of domestic violence 

This circular of 15 June 2023 is about the protection of victims of domestic violence admitted to reside in the Belgian Kingdom under family reunification with a citizen of the Union European, a Belgian or a third-country national, and who do not have an independent right of residence in Belgium.

Experience shows that victims of domestic violence are reluctant to disclose the violence while their right of residence is still subject to the conditions for family reunification. An essential factor in this respect is the fear of losing their right of residence in Belgium. These victims are often unaware of the residence protection clauses set out in the law of 15 December 1980 on access to the territory, residence, settlement and removal of foreign nationals.

This circular aims to help strengthen legal certainty and reduce the obstacles to reporting domestic violence.


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