Slovenia removing obstacles for reuniting families

Written by Thomas Huddleston, MIPEX Research Coordinator, Co-author and Policy Analyst, Migration Policy Group

With the new Aliens Act in Slovenia, another new immigration country makes slow but steady progress towards the common goal of equal treatment for citizens and non-EU residents. MIPEX finds that most newcomers, whatever their gender or sexual orientation, will be eligible for family reunion procedures that are now favourable for integration. 

Will the 2011 Aliens Act improve the lives of immigrant families in Slovenia?

Neža Kogovšek Šalamon of the EU’s non-discrimination independent legal network reports that Slovenia’s 2011 Aliens Act expands the definition of the family eligible to reunite together. The Act, which also implemented the EU Blue Card Directive, entered into force on 27 July 2011 and can be used as of 27 October 2011.

Under Article 47, most newcomers are eligible for a family reunion procedure that is ‘favourable’ for their integration, according to my new unofficial MIPEX retrospective impact assessment. MIPEX III found that Slovenia’s policy already scored 75 out-of-100 and ranked 5th out of 31 countries, just behind Sweden (84). Article 47 raises its score five-points to 80/100 because of the more favourable eligibility provisions (90). The changes clearly emerge from this graph comparing the previous (labelled 2007) and new policy (labelled 2010):

When can I apply?

All temporary and permanent non-EU residents (except seasonal workers) are now eligible to sponsor their families. For years, Slovenia imposed no waiting period for family reunion. But legislators transposing the EU family reunion directive choose to limit this right to people living there for already a year and with valid permits of at least a year. MIPEX concludes that this policy delayed and excluded many families from the integration process.

What will happen to my partner?

Secondly, registered or co-habitating partners are also recognised as close family members who should be eligible for reunion. All partners are treated equally, regardless of their gender or sexual orientation. Before the 2011 Act, partners were excluded from provisions for spouses. They had to rely on the absolute discretion of the authorities to see the “special circumstances” of their life together. Now family reunion laws in Canada and 11 European countries (in pink) recognise the different ways that immigrants and citizens live together as modern couples:

Some of the people who will benefit from the 2011 Act’s new provisions are Slovenia’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered couples. Coincidentally, Slovenia was one of the highest-scoring countries for LGBT rights on the Rainbow Europe Index of ILGA-Europe, an LGBT advocacy organisation.

Looking back to MIPEX III, ahead to Slovenia event

In the 2010 MIPEX III, Slovenia emerged as the Central European country with the most developed integration policies. However, its low overall score of 48/100 suggests that its policies still create as many obstacles as opportunities for immigrants to fully participate in society. Between 2007 and 2010, the average EU country improved just one point on the MIPEX 100-point-scale. At the time, Slovenia was not one of the few Central European countries that were catching up on integration policies.

Slovenians working on integration are encouraging their country to recognise itself as a country of immigration. Anyone interested in the issue should definitely attend our upcoming MIPEX policy debate on 21 September, 2011 in Ljubljana.