More about RFL

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Central Tracing Agency

Our Restoring Family Links service came into being when the Red Cross established a Central Tracing Agency (CTA) during the Franco-Prussian war of 1870-71. Since then, we have restored family links for countless numbers of people.

This service is a potent symbol of the Red Cross Movement's humanitarian mission. We support people in need of the basics for survival but we also recognise the crucial importance of alleviating emotional, mental and psychological suffering.

Our team of tracing specialists number more than 100 in the field plus 60 at our Geneva HQ. This teams works with our network of national societies, giving this service a truly global reach. We have also developed PERCO, the Platform for European Red Cross Cooperation on Refugees, Asylum Seekers and Migrants, to enhance coordination.

Our work involves:

• arranging the exchange of family correspondence when the usual means of communication have been disrupted

• forwarding information that helps identify people supported by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and who are in particular need of protection

• tracing people who are missing or have lost touch with their families

• arranging transfer, repatriation and reunification of separated families members

• issuing time-limited ICRC travel documents for people without identity papers

• issuing certificates of captivity, hospitalisation or death for former detainees, prisoners of war or their rightful claimants.





Reunification for refugees

A person with refugee status can apply for permission to have a family member or civil partner live in the State. The application is referred to the Refugee Applications Commissioner and notified to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

The Refugee Applications Commissioner will investigate and submit a report to the Minister for Justice setting out the relationship between the refugee and the applicant, including their domestic circumstances.

If the Minister is satisfied the subject of the application is eligible, permission will be granted. People with leave to remain do not have this as an entitlement but they may apply. Anyone residing in the State as a result of family reunification enjoys the same rights as a person with refugee status for as long as the refugee who made the application is entitled to remain in the State.

A member of the family in relation to a refugee means:

• Spouse, provided the marriage exists when the application is made

• Where a refugee is under the age of 18 years and is not married

• The child of a refugee who on the date of application is under 18 years and not married.

• The Minister also has discretionary powers to grant permission to a dependent member of the family of a refugee to reside in the State. In the event that happens, the family member enjoys the same rights as a Convention refugee for as long as the refugee who made the application is entitled to remain in the State. A dependent member is defined as: a grandparent, parent, brother, sister, child, grandchild, ward or guardian of the refugee and who is dependent on them or is suffering a mental or physical disability that renders them unable to support themselves.

How to apply

Contact the Family Reunification Section of the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) for details of the documents required. In the event of a successful application the person abroad must apply online for a visa.

Further information: Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service, Burgh Quay, Dublin 2. Helpline: (0)1 616 7700 or Locall:1890 551 500