Family reunification, family cohesion and recognition of the right to family unity for foreigners.
Family reunification is the process of joining a family member who lives in Italy. It represents one of the ways provided by the law to legally reside in Italy. It is governed by the Consolidated Immigration Act.
Entry into Italy for family reunification is possible upon issue of a special visa for family reunification.
Family cohesion with a foreign citizen is possible when the applicant is already in Italy for another reason, such as for work or study.
The Single Desk for Immigration issues the authorization. Once the authorization is received, the consular authority of the country of origin, in turn, grants the foreign citizen an entry visa.
Who is entitled to family reunification?
Any foreigner in possession of a residence card or residence permit lasting at least one year has the right to request family reunification with relatives residing in Italy, in the case of subordinate work, self-employment, political asylum, study, religious reasons or family reasons.
The residency permit for family reasons is issued for a duration equal to that of the permit of the family member who requested family reunification.
The person who wishes to join their relative obtains a “residence permit for family reasons“, a document that allows one to:
- subscribe in unemployment placement lists;
- access public assistance services.
Relatives for whom it is possible to apply for family reunification are:
- the husband, wife or partner who is civilly united, provided they are not under the age of 18 and that a legal separation has not occurred in the meantime;
- minor children, including those of the spouse or born out of wedlock, provided that the other parent, if any, has given his consent. Adopted, entrusted or guarded minors are treated as children;
- adult children, if dependent, in the event that they have a serious disability;
- parents, if dependent and in the event they have no other children in the country of origin or provenance;
- Parents over 65, if they cannot be supported by other children living in their country of residence, for serious and documented health reasons;
- first degree direct ascendants, in the case of an unaccompanied minor with refugee
Rarely, entry for family reunification is allowed for the natural parent whose child, a minor, is already legally residing in Italy with the other parent.
The applicant must be a foreigner residing in Italy, holder of a valid residence card or residence permit, with a duration of no less than one year.
The requirements for obtaining family reunification
Being a resident is not enough to obtain family reunification. The additional requirements for applications are:
- Availability of accommodation that can house the number of family members requested in the family reunification application. This accommodation must comply with the hygienic-sanitary and housing suitability requirements, for which it will be subjected to checks by the competent municipal officers, which are responsible for issuing the certificate of accommodation suitability;
- A minimum annual income “not less than the annual amount of the social allowance, increased by half the amount of the same for each family member to be reunited”. The calculation includes the “total annual income of family members living together”.
To understand the amount of income required, let's take for example 2019, where the annual income required for the Family Reunification was as follows:
- Applicant: € 5,954 per year
- 1 family member: € 8,931
- 2 family members: € 11,908
- 3 family members: € 14,885
- 4 family members: € 17,862
- 5 family members: € 20,839
- 6 family members: € 23,816.
In case of reunification of two, or more, children under the age of 14, the minimum income required for 2018 was € 11,908.00.
For any other other relatives (other than children under 14) such as children, spouses or parents, the amount of € 2,977.00 must be added to the amount of € 11,908.00 for each additional person.
Holders of refugee status and those benefiting from subsidiary protection are excluded from the presentation of documents proving income and suitability for housing.
The documents needed for family reunification
The release of the permit for family reunification, which is used to obtain an entry visa, must be requested at the Single Desk for Immigration (Sportello Unico per l'Immigrazione) of the place where the applicant lives, by filling in the appropriate electronic forms.
The follow is required:
- Documents proving the identity of the applicant and the relatives who will be joining them;
- Documents proving the right to stay. In the event of an expired permit, the receipt of presentation of the renewal application is sufficient;
- Tax code of the applicant;
- Certificate of family status of the applicant issued by the Municipality of residence;
- Certificate of family status to trace the number of people living in the house where the reunited family members will live. It must be issued by the Municipality of residence with the wording “immigration use”;
- Documents relating to the type of activity undertaken in Italy by the applicant;
- Documents relating to income.
To obtain recognition for family cohesion, it is necessary to be of the same kinship, to have sufficient income and adhere to the housing requirements needed for family reunification.
The declaration of kinship can be requested directly from your consular authority in Italy.
Those who apply for family cohesion must have a valid residence permit in Italy, or one that has expired for no more than one year.
A marriage celebrated in Italy gives the right to family cohesion if the applicant has been legally residing in Italy for at least one year.
If the applicant is the parent, he/she must demonstrate, with regard to the offspring, the status of the dependent family member in the previous year.
Family cohesion as protection of family unity
Italian law, in line with Article 8 of the ECHR, the European Convention on Human Rights, provides for the protection of the unity of the family. With this in mind, the Supreme Court has expressed itself denying the expulsion “in the presence of family and minor ties”: The Supreme Court of Cassation.
The existence of family relationships in Italy must be assessed, even outside the hypothesis of family reunification, since, even if this right is not exercised, the foreigner must be protected in the event that he has “qualified and effective” ties in the territory of the State. In the presence of minor children, the judge will also have to assess the impact of the distance with the country of origin on the continuation of a relationship with the child.
Originally Published by , December 2020
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.