Family-reunion for children living in West Africa

Long-term IrregulaarDear Readers,

In this article the focus is on family-reunion for children living in West Africa. Recently the rules changed positively but the manner the rules are implemented became more complicated.

What has changed positively?

Positive is the change in the rules about which children are able to get a permit because of family-reunion. In the recent past only those under 18 years were able to get re-united with their parents in The Netherlands.

Children who are slightly over 18 years, the young adults, are no longer excluded from family-reunion but only if they used to be and still are part of the family of the parents they want to reunite with. The IND will in every individual case make an assessment whether the young adult is still part of the family. This will not be the case when one is living on its own, when one makes a living for himself, one is married or started a relation or is taking care of an extra marital child. This does not mean that things will be easy now, on the contrary. More than before, evidence and information must be submitted. That is not a problem for those who are prepared, like the readers of this article.

What became more complicated?

In cases of family-reunion, whether it is for family member under or over 18, I see a rise of cases in which the Immigration Authority starts to ask many questions about several subjects. In family-reunion that usually happens if there are things that are out of the ordinary.

This will be the case when the application concerns children that have not been registered directly after they were born but much later. These so called late entry birth certificates are looked upon with suspicion. In those cases one must realize that the Immigration Authority will demand a lot of evidence before it is accepted that the child’s birth certificate is legitimate.

It’s best to avoid all problems by taking adequate care of the registration of the child. However, events from the past cannot be changed so if one applies for a child with a late entry birth certificate, prepare the application as well as possible with evidence that confirms the child’s date of birth and identity. The best evidence is a certificate of the West African Examinations Council or WEAC in short.

For more information, see: and you will find what you need to know. If it is not possible to get a WEAC certificate then one must collect all kind of verifiable information like other kind of certificates, ID card, school card, sports card and all other documents and information supporting the identity of the child.

It also happen once in a while that a parent asked for family-reunion just before the child becomes 18 years old while the parent could have applied for it years ago. Then it is to be expected that there will be questions asked about the strength of the ties between parent and child. Is there still such strong family life between parent and child that this requires that a residential status must be issued to the child?

This question is relevant because the existing intense family life is the basis for the permit. If there is no evidence provided of such strong ties between parent and child, this will be a reason to refuse the permit. In cases concerning family-reunion it is important that one apply for it as soon as reasonably possible. This is not only important to avoid a dispute over the intensity of the family-life.

For the children, it is very important to be able to start their school and integration in The Netherlands as soon as possible. A child of a few years old will pick up the language very fast and also will fit in the educational system much easier than a child of almost 18. So do not wait too long because that is much against the interest of the child.

What to do when one wants to apply for family reunion

The best thing is to visit the website of the Immigration Authority ( and see what is required for the application. Then collect all possible evidence as mentioned above. Be aware of the fact that it is not possible to provide too much information, so do not hold back. Also realize that information will be cross-checked so all information must be valid and correct. With this information, your application has a much better chance of success. Also it is wise to consult Het Juridisch Loket ( and ask this organization for free advice on how to prepare and file an application.

What to do when you want to visit our office?

If you have a case concerning immigration law or you are in immigration detention, we are able to support you. Our office can also help in cases of family law, problems with welfare, employment, the landlord, criminal law, labour law and so on.

In our office, several lawyers work with their own specialism, so an appointment can be made with a lawyer that is qualified to handle your case.

Have a look at our web-site to learn more about our office.

For an appointment call 070 427 3215 and explain to our Secretary what your question is.

When you come to the appointment, bring all information that is available. Only then can we judge the case and do make good use of the time.

*A.G. Kleijweg. Balen van Andelplein 2e, 2273 KH Voorburg – +31 70.427.3215 – /