IOM’s Family Assistance Programme (FAP) works to facilitate the reunification of vulnerable migrant families, who are compelled to leave their country of origin, with a person holding protection status in Germany. The programme started in 2016 with the operation of five service centres in Turkey, Lebanon and Iraq, where Syrian and Iraqi nationals could apply for family reunification visas. Following its initial success, the programme has now been expanded to support migrants from various nations through a network of service centres across ten countries. In Turkey, our centre is based in Istanbul, where a high migrant presence and high demand for the project has been determined.

The project has three main intentions. Firstly, the process aims to protect migrants by offering alternative means of reunification that are not unsafe, irregular or life-threatening. Secondly, the programme looks to uphold the basic right of family unity through visa processing. Thirdly, FAP empowers families through information dissemination in relevant languages.

The process begins with an appointment to understand the situation of each individual and family and to give basic information on the procedures that will follow. Families are assisted with the visa application process and scheduling an appointment with the German Consulate. The surroundings are designed to be family friendly, with child-friendly facilities and disabled access. Next, in collaboration with the German Consulate, applications are submitted on behalf of the family and are tracked as the cases are processed. When grounds for reunification are confirmed, the family is offered further tailored information on integration into German life.