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Family reunification: what is it

Family reunification can be defined as the right to maintain or regain family unity by foreign family members. This right is granted to foreigners living in Italy as long as the conditions provided for by law are met.

For which family members can it be requested?

Family reunification can be requested for:

  • the spouse who is not legally separated and of not less than eighteen years of age;
  • minor children, including those of the spouse or born out of wedlock;
  • adult dependent children who cannot provide for the needs of life due to their state of health or in cases of total disability;
  • dependent parents, if they have no other children in their country of origin or provenance, and since the other children are unable to support them.

In the event that there are doubts about the veracity of the documentation issued to certify the family bond, it is possible to use the DNA test, whose certification is issued by the Diplomatic or Consular Missions.

Requirements for the application

The necessary requirements for non-EU citizens to apply for family reunification are:

  • have the availability to take advantage of an accommodation that complies with the hygienic-sanitary requirements, as well as housing suitability, ascertained by the competent local Municipal Offices;
  • have health insurance or any other type of insurance suitable for guaranteeing coverage of all risks in the national territory.

Non-EU citizens who have previously obtained refugee status are not required to demonstrate such availability.


The art. 28 of Legislative Decree 286/98 ( Consolidated Law on Immigration) recognizes, in fact, the right to maintain or reacquire the family unit of foreigners holding an EC residence permit, long-term residents or a residence permit with duration not less than one year, which was released for subordinate or self-employed work, for asylum, for study, for religious reasons or precisely for family reasons.

Who can apply for family reunification

The non-EU citizen in possession of:

  • EC residence permit for long-term residents;
  • residence permit with a duration of not less than one year, issued for subordinate work, for self-employment, for asylum or for subsidiary protection, for social or humanitarian protection, for study, for religious or family reasons.


Family reunification: the procedure

The family reunification procedure is divided into two phases:

1st. phase at the Single Desk for Immigration, concerns the verification of the objective requirements for the release of the permit for reunification;

2nd. phase at the Italian Consular Representation, on the other hand, concerns the verification of the subjective and particular requirements for the issue of the entry visa.

How to apply for family reunification

The first thing to do is to submit the application for the permit for family reunification to the Immigration Desk responsible for the place of your residence.

Pursuant to art. 6 of Presidential Decree 394/1999 (Implementation Regulation of the Consolidated Law on Immigration) the following documents must be attached to the application:

  • copy of the residence card or residence permit;
  • documentation certifying the availability of income pursuant to art. 29, paragraph 3, of the Consolidated Law;
  • documentation certifying the availability of accommodation, pursuant to art. 29 paragraph 3 of the Consolidated Law. It is necessary to produce the certificate from the Municipal Office regarding the existence of the requisites, or the hygienic-sanitary suitability certificate issued by the local health authority responsible for the area;
  • documentation certifying family relationships, minor age and family status;
  • documentation certifying total invalidity or serious health reasons;
  • documentation concerning the economic condition of the dependent family members in the country of origin.

The authorization for family reunification

Once the Immigration Desk has verified the requisites required and obtained an opinion from the Police Headquarters on the inexistence of reasons that may hinder the alien's entry into the national territory, it issues the permit for family reunification or, otherwise, a refusal provision.

The permit for family reunification is issued within 180 days of the request (Article 29, paragraph 8 of the Consolidated Law, thus replaced by Law 94/2009).

Family reunification: when does the request get rejected

The request for family reunification is rejected if it is ascertained that the marriage or adoption took place for the sole purpose of allowing the interested party to enter or reside in the territory of the State (Article 29, paragraph 9, of the Consolidated Law).

The issue of the entry visa

The second phase of the procedure for family reunification takes place at the Italian Consular Representation which is responsible for verifying the existence of the subjective requirements for issuing the entry visa.

The Italian Consular Authority verifies the veracity of the documentation presented and, in the event of a positive outcome, issues the entry visa within thirty days of the request, communicating it electronically to the Single Desk for Immigration pursuant to art. 6 Implementation Regulation of the Consolidated Law.

Family reunification news 2020

The discipline dictated by the Unified Text on Immigration just described is also valid for 2020, as the rules on family reunification that provide for it have not been subject to significant changes in recent years.

Refusal of family reunification: how to appeal

Against the denial of the permit for family reunification and the residence permit for family reasons, the interested party may, pursuant to art. 30, paragraph, of the Consolidated Law, to lodge an appeal to the Court in the monochromatic composition of the place in which he resides.

The opposition is regulated by art. 20, Legislative Decree 150/2011: these disputes are governed by the summary rite of cognition pursuant to art. 702-bis and ss. cpc, unless otherwise provided.

In the event of an expulsion measure against a foreigner who has made use of the right to family reunification, art. 13, paragraph 2-bis, of the Consolidated Law specifies that the nature and effectiveness of the family ties of the person concerned, the duration of his stay in the national territory, as well as the existence of family, cultural or social ties must be taken into consideration.

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