In the event of both refugee status and humanitarian status, the status holders have the right to request permission for reuniting with their family on the territory of Bulgaria.

The law allows reunification only with the following family members:

  • husband/wife. In cases of polygamy, reuniting with a second or subsequent wife is not allowed if one of the wives is already in Bulgaria.
  • the parents of either of the spouses if they are not able to take care of themselves because of old age or a serious disease and who need to live in their children’s household;
  • children who are aged under 18 and are unmarried;
  • unmarried children who have turned 18, but only if, due to serious health problems, they are not able to earn their own living and provide for their subsistence.
In cases of a child aged under 18 who is in Bulgaria without his/her parents because they are dead or because the child does not know where they are, that child may be allowed to reunite, in Bulgaria, with another adult family member who is responsible for him/her by law or by custom, for example: a grandmother, a grandfather, an uncle, an aunt, or an adult brother or sister aged 18 or over.

In order to receive permission for family reunification, the status holder must submit an application to the Chairperson of the Agency for Refugees who grants such permission.

Documents certifying the marriage and the children’s birth must be attached to the application, if the applicant has these documents on himself/herself. If the applicant does not have them, he/she will submit a declaration listing the names, the dates of birth, and the whereabouts (state and address) of his/her family members, which must be certified before a notary.

Once permission for family reunification has been received, the Bulgarian authorities will send this information, ex officio, to the Bulgarian Embassy in the country where the family members are. The family members must go to the Embassy where a visa will be stamped on their passports. If the family members do not have international passports, the Embassy can issue Bulgarian travel documents (laissez-passer), so that they can travel to Bulgaria.

If the whereabouts of the family members are unknown, the status holder can request that the Agency for Refugees takes search actions. In this case, the officials of the Agency will approach the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the Bulgarian Red Cross for assistance and cooperation in the search for your family outside Bulgaria.

In case the status holder is not refused family reunification, he/she has the right to lodge an appeal before the court and request that the court overturns the refusal and orders the Agency for Refugees to issue permission for reunification.

The appeal before the court must be lodged within 14 days from the day on which the status holder received the refusal decision and certified the receipt by signing.

The appeal is lodged before the administrative court which has jurisdiction over the area where the applicant for reunification lives. The appeal is heard at two levels: if the decision of the court at the first level is negative, a second, last appeal can be lodged before the Supreme Administrative Court of Bulgaria. The decision of the Supreme Court on the appeal will be final. For more information on this issue, see “Appeals before the court” and “Legal aid by a lawyer”.