This document is an excerpt from the EUR-Lex website
WHAT IS THE AIM OF THE DIRECTIVE?
It aims to set out common rules of law relating to the right to family reunification. The intention is to enable family members of non-EU nationals residing lawfully on the territory of the EU to join them in the EU country in which they are residing. The objective is to protect the family unit and to facilitate the integration of nationals of non-member countries.
It does not apply to Ireland, Denmark and the United Kingdom (1). In addition, it does not preclude any more favourable conditions recognised by national legislation.
Non-EU nationals who hold a residence permit valid for at least one year in one of the EU countries and who have the legal option of long-term residence can apply for family reunification.
However, this directive does not apply to family members of an EU citizen, or to non-EU nationals applying for recognition of refugee status whose application has not yet given rise to a final decision or who are under a temporary form of protection.
The following are eligible for family reunification:
EU countries remain free to authorise, under certain conditions, family reunification of:
Polygamy is not recognised; only one spouse can benefit from the right to reunification. Likewise, children of the ineligible spouses are excluded from the right to reunification unless their best interests warrant it (in accordance with the 1989 Convention on Children’s Rights).
EU countries are also permitted to require the non-EU national and his/her spouse to be of a minimum age (subject to a maximum of 21 years), before they can exercise the right to family reunification.
Rights of family members
Guidance on the application of the directive
FROM WHEN DOES THE DIRECTIVE APPLY?
It has applied since 3 October 2003 and had to become law in the EU countries by 3 October 2005.
For more information, see:
Council Directive 2003/86/EC of 22 September 2003 on the right to family reunification (OJ L 251, 3.10.2003, pp. 12-18)
Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council on guidance for application of Directive 2003/86/EC on the right to family reunification (COM(2014) 210 final, 3.4.2014)
Green Paper on the right to family reunification of third-country nationals living in the European Union (Directive 2003/86/EC) (COM(2011) 735 final, 15.11.2011)
Report from the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council on the application of Directive 2003/86/EC on the right to family reunification (COM(2008) 610 final, 8.10.2008)
last update 05.06.2018
(1) The United Kingdom withdraws from the European Union and becomes a third country (non-EU country) as of 1 February 2020.