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Thursday, 23 November 2017

① Introduction to Legal Cohabitation Visa Survival Series for a Well-Prepared Battle

Introduction – Legal Cohabitation Visa. 

Hello to all the YOUs out there! A very warm welcome to the website, LIVE IN BELGIUM. The creation of this website based on my first-hand experience of the legal cohabitation visa process. Subsequently, the discussion on the lifestyle and topics revolving around Belgium. Let’s walk the journey in Belgium together.


Brief Relationship History

My name is MissSJ. I am a Singaporean. My boyfriend is a Belgian with a full-time job. We are currently living in Antwerp, Flemish Region of Flanders.

I knew my Belgian boyfriend since August 2010 through online dating. We first met in Bangkok, Thailand in November 2010 during his summer holiday. In short, we knew each other for six years maintaining a long-distance relationship before declaring a legal cohabitation in Belgium on 15 July 2016.

It took me two months after arrival to get an Orange Card. Following another two months later, the commune approved my residence permit F card. Although the confirmation comes in a short span of four months from the arrival day, I could only receive my F Card after a total duration of eight months. That is also the last day of my Orange Card expiry date in March 2017.

The total time length from arrival in Belgium to receiving your Residence Permit F Card is approximately 9 to 12 months.


Objective of Website

You arrive here because we have many common questions in mind about the process of the cohabitation visa. We have done all our research on some official websites. Undoubtedly, certain requirements baffle us. In spite of the difficulty, make an effort to read the official contents a few rounds to fully digest them.

The “Legal Cohabitation Survival Series for Well-Prepared Battle” is a record of my two years research and actual procedures that happened. Hence, the approach of the discussion is more in-depth tailoring to the subject of declaring a legal cohabitation in Belgium.

I used some “psychological techniques” and reasoning to improve my chance of getting the visa then. Coupled with a smart presentation format that is easy to understand by the municipality, I was ready for the battle.

It would be a nightmare to realise that you forget to bring some essential documents for submission later after arriving in Belgium. To make things worse, you can only obtain those documents in your home country. Hopefully, my step-by-step breakdown on the documents requirement could provide valuable insight and tips to get your cohabitation visa more successfully.

My submission of the documents is only by email. I want to share my cohabitation visa template format with you. There are suggestions to present a more informative draft other than submitting the proof of relationship in a chunk of zipped files.

I did not use USB stick, CD or printed paper. Do note that some communes insist on collecting the hard copies of the documents in an old-fashioned way.  They will not accept anything over emails.

A useful method to understand the cohabitation visa process is to follow the flow of my blogs based on the numbering sequence of my timeline events overview.


Research on Cohabitation Visa Process

Like many people who have partners staying in Belgium, there are a lot of confusion and questions in their mind. Before going to Belgium, I would always search desperately online. Every few others days, I would dig out a new piece of information relating to the cohabitation visa process. I would use many different keywords so that I would not miss out any vital information.

Since a reasonable amount of research on the topic of cohabitation visa was done, I wish to share my knowledge and explain it in the best way to help others reduce the confusion. I highlight that no one is an expert on this subject unless one works for the immigration or related department.

You may have already read a lot about the cohabitation visa process requirements online. The procedures are not the same in every city but the required documents are more or less the same. Even from a similar city, some people took a longer time to get the Orange Card than others. On top of that, they landed up in a more complicated situation.

The commune asked these people to submit more documents and went through more police interviews. Despite all the hassles, no one could give a concrete answer to the repeated procedure. Therefore, take others’ experiences as a guide. You will begin to see the light and note some similarity.


Why is the Procedure So Long and Difficult?

The process is long and nerve-racking, but it is not unfounded. Immigration is a very strict process in almost every country and not just in Belgium. The nation has to control the influx of their immigrants and screen the background of these applicants. You are going to live in Belgium for a long time so have some patience.

If one looks at a bigger picture, a stringent procedure should be in place. It is to prevent fraudulent marriages and cohabitation. The lawbreaker has the upper hand to obtain a Belgian nationality later. Moreover, no one wants to live in a society where every Tom, Dick or Harry can enter into the country and call it “home”. And yes, it is punishable by law to marry or cohabit ‘out of convenience’.

While what you want is simply to be with your loved ones, the authority begs to differ. The long investigation process and proof of relationship submission are for clamping down people with ulterior motives. As a result, they pose a serious immigration problem in Belgium over the years. Consequently, it is natural that the authority conducts a check on us because they do not know our background.


Main Referencing Official Website

The primary referencing website for the process of legal cohabitation is Belgian Immigration Office. Still, a few critical links on the official website are not working. They contain a further explanation of a specific term.

You can find the broken links’ contents and much more information on Belgian Immigration Office French language site. I will provide such links on the appropriate post later. Use a translation tool if you do not understand French.


Cohabitation Documents Requirement

Let’s take a quick look at the documents below before I dissect everything post by post. These are the legal cohabitation visa documents requirements of Belgian Immigration Office (DOFI) on the French language site. A lot of vital information on the English website is down so I have to direct you to the French site or the DOFI Dutch language site if you prefer.


Cohabitation Visa in Belgium

This video is an overview of the different type of visa in Belgium – Spousal Visa, Fiance Visa and Cohabitation Visa.

Video Length: 3m 18s


Disclaimer

Copying the style of many websites out there and playing safe, I am a nobody in Belgium. In no way am I associated nor representing on behalf of the relevant departments and authorities discussed. The content is written entirely based on my personal experience, surrounding and research on the official websites in English, French and Dutch. The rules, law and regulation may change anytime without notice. The responsibility lies solely on the individual to get the facts verified again if necessary to suit their circumstances which may be different from mine.


About Live in Belgium

Hello, my name is MissSJ. I am a Singaporean. I am living with my Belgian partner since July 2016 in a cosmopolitan city, Antwerp. However, I had been travelling to and fro Belgium since 2011 as a tourist. The creation of this blog is to document my new journey in Belgium which I would like to call ‘home’. Join me in discovering the fascinating Belgium from the eyes of an expat.

4 comments

  1. Thanks you for taking the time to do this blog, you have no idea how usefull is!
    <3 keep posting please!

    • Hi Ines, thank you for your time to comb through the articles and leaving a comment. I am touched by your kind words!!! 😀 Please let me know if there is anything you want to know. I will try my best to help or to give you some links that might be useful to you. I wish you all the success and luck in getting your family reunion visa soon!! 🙂

  2. To whom it may concern,
    I am a filipina, living as aupair here in belgium. i have a belgian boyfriend. We’ve known each other for 9 months now and we are together as bf/gf for 5 months now. We are planning to leave together on september as my contract ends by that time. Is it possible to apply for a live in visa already? What are the requirements for applying?

    Thank you so much!

    • Hi Zhel,

      I suggest that you do not apply for the legal cohabitation / aka cohabitation visa yet because you have not met the minimum requirement. Otherwise, you will be heading straight for a rejection. You have to prove that: –

      1) You have a relationship with your bf for at least 2 years

      OR

      2) Have lived together for at least 1 year.

      For both requirements above, you have to submit evidence. For living together one year in Belgium or overseas, it is in your best interest to submit a tenancy agreement with both names on it. Or, submit other documents to prove that you are living with your bf if he is the owner of the house.

      The other suggestion which is unconventional is to apply for legal cohabitation before your aupair visa ends. The commune will issue you an Orange Card later. Therefore, you can continue to stay in Belgium.

      After 6 months, you will get a rejection because you do not fulfil one of the criteria which I have stated above. Then, you reapply and go through the process all over again for 1 to 2 times until you reach the requirement of living together for 1 year.

      There are people who live in Belgium with an Orange Card for more than 2 years because they never meet some requirements and apply over and over again. In the meanwhile, they can live in Belgium and find a job if their partner is a Belgian. Alternatively, you can take register for a Civic Integration Programme and take a Dutch Language Course.

      I do not know whether you want to take the risk of a rejection over and over again. After all, it is a negative impression in the record. You can make an appointment at the commune and ask questions regarding your case. Making an appointment at this point might do you some good. You can read from my case how it might be advantageous for you later.

      The last resort is to go back to your country and reapply it after knowing each other for two years. For declaring a legal cohabitation, another requirement is ‘Certificate of Celibacy‘ to prove that you are single. This document is likely obtainable only in your country.

      The requirement is written on this page “Cohabitation Requirements Document“. You may also refer from article 5 to 10 and 22. Checklist for Moving to Belgium for Cohabitation.

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