Friday, 23 July 2021

⑰ Belgian/EU Partner Proof of Income, Health Insurance and Housing

Belgian/EU Partner Proof of Income, Housing & Health Insurance for Legal Cohabitation

This article concentrates on the document requirements of the partners residing in Belgium. What do they need to prepare? The minimum salary requirement for proof of income is a great concern for most couples. In fact, this is one of the most stringent criteria for a successful cohabitation application.

To apply for legal cohabitation, the partner in Belgium submits three documents other than his/her identification card. They are proof of income, title deed/rental agreement and health insurance. He has to prove his sufficient personal means of subsistence before the authority can approve his partner’s residence permit.

Adequate Housing

For the preparation of family reunion application, one criterion of the partner in Belgium is to provide evidence of sufficient accommodation for the foreign partner. Therefore, the dwelling must be healthy for staying. The Belgian/EU partner can demonstrate adequate housing in either way: –

  1. Title deed/ownership of the house or apartment
  2. Rental Lease Agreement

The proof of housing is usually the easiest to produce. If one does not have the rental contract, one can always ask for another copy from the landlord.

Adequate Health Insurance

Social security contributions are mandatory for people working in Belgium. A percentage of the contribution goes to health insurance. The name of the health insurance is ‘mutualité’ in French and ‘ziekenfonds’ in Dutch.

The Belgian/EU partner must provide proof of health insurance valid in Belgium for himself and the family member joined. The partner in Belgium can obtain this insurance certificate from his national health insurance company. Alternatively, the Belgian partner can provide the health certificate purchased from other insurance organisation.

In my case, my Belgian partner went down to his national health insurance company, CM. I want him to ask specifically for PDF format. So, I did not have to do double to convert the hard-copy to soft-copy later. CM emailed him the certificate on the spot.

Proof of Income

The Belgian/EU partner should have a regular and stable income in order not to burden on the social security system. The Government wants to ensure that the partner in Belgium has the capability to support his foreign partner financially.

    Minimum income of 1,555.092 nett/month
    Has worked continuously for 12 months

As a result, the Belgian/EU partner must satisfy the two conditions as proof of income requirement met for the legal cohabitation visa.

» How to derive the minimum salary needed to apply for legal cohabitation?

The partner to be joined in Belgium should have a salary which is 120% of the minimum income. The minimum wage is under Category 3 Montants en euros sur base mensuelle laid out by SPP Social Integration as of 1 March 2020. The minimum income calculation is €1,295.91 x 120% = €1,555.092.

The Belgian Immigration website has also adjusted the minimum income to €1,555.092 net/month. You have to check the page for the latest published salary. Then, you will know the minimum wage to submit as evidence for the income proof.

If you click on the link to the SPP website below, you can see that the minimum salary (excel) increases almost every year. Sometimes, the adjustment is 2 to 3 times a year.

Download Excel file

» Regular or Irregular Income for 12 months or Less

Having a full-time work contract and at least one year of payslip with the minimum income requirement is the most ideal. However, for many couples especially the younger ones, fulfilling one of the above criteria may pose a challenge.

It is rather common to hear the reasons that the cohabitation visa is not approved when the Belgian/EU partner:-

    does not earn the minimum salary requirement.
    has just started working for less than a year.
    just graduated from school.
    is still a student.

Danger! These are signs of financial instability in which the likelihood of rejection for the legal cohabitation approval is high.

What if my Belgian/EU partner does not fulfil the minimum income of €1,555.092/month for one year?

If your Belgian partner’s proof of income does not meet the minimum salary requirement for 12 months, chances of the foreign partner getting a residence permit F card is low, though not entirely impossible.

The French site of the Belgian Immigration Office states that failing to fulfil the two criteria above does not lead to outright refusal of the cohabitation visa application. Therefore, the authority offers solutions to turn the table for those who earn a lower salary than the stipulated amount. It is an extra step to prove that the Belgian’s current household expenses are manageable.

» Favourable Benefits as Remedies for Lower Income

Other than submitting the inflow of regular and stable income, the Belgian provides additional evidence in his favour. Consequently, it will enable the Immigration Department to have a better assessment of his financial situation. The given examples to provide as proof below:-

  • The amount of rent that he pays monthly

» Maybe his rent is not high. Or, he does not have to pay rent at all as he owns a house. Or, he stays with his parents.

  • The amount of rent that he collected monthly

» Maybe he has property on lease or rooms that he rents out.

  • Unemployment benefit

» This benefit is taken into consideration only if the Belgian partner provides proof of looking for jobs constantly.

  • Amount of child benefits that he receives
  • Other types of premiums received
  • Specific reductions allocated based on personal circumstance
  • Other beneficial sources

» What Kind of Benefits are Not Taken into Consideration?

The following benefits or income stated in the Belgian Immigration website are not taken into account: –

  • Integration income
  • Family allowances
  • Supplementary family allowances
  • Social assistance (CPAS)
  • Waiting allowances
  • Transition allowance
  • Income allowance
  • The integration allowance received by a disabled person
  • Income from an employment contract signed on the basis of Article 60 (7)
  • Signed commitment in favour of a student (Annex 32)

Case Studies

These are a few case studies came across in which the foreign partners have already obtained the Orange Card.

» Scenario 1

The foreign partner has a regular job in Belgium and earns more than the minimum amount required. Whereas, the Belgian partner is either not working, have a salary lower than required or just started working for a few months. Correspondingly, all these factors lead to a rejection of the residence permit application of the foreign partner after 6 months of waiting.

Of course, the foreign partner having a Belgian partner can continue to work with an Orange Card. Besides, they can always reapply the process all over again. So, it does not matter anymore how many times the rejections were. In summary, after the Belgian partner fulfils the two proof of income requirements stated above, notably, the foreign partner’s approval for an F card turns positive.

» Scenario 2

A woman came to Belgium to apply for the legal cohabitation visa with her Belgian boyfriend. He was a student back then. Subsequently, she received the Orange Card. After waiting for the first round, the approval of her permanent stay was not positive. Reason being that the Belgian partner was a student. They reapplied for the second time.

The Belgian partner found a job shortly after graduation. Another six months later, the result was once again depressing. She was again not approved of her F Card. Surely, her partner could not fulfil one or the income proof requirements. Either he was not earning the minimum income required, or he did not work long enough.

In the meanwhile, the woman makes use of the time by going to Dutch classes and Social Integration course as it is compulsory for non-EU citizens to follow a Civic Integration Programme in Belgium.

Ask Someone to be a Sponsor / Guarantor

The next resort is solely my personal suggestion for the Belgian partner who does not meet the minimum salary requirement. If the foreign partner is financially self-sufficient and able to provide her bank statement, submit it together with the Belgian partner’s income.

Nonetheless, the best solution is to submit a Bijlage/Annexe 3bis of a family member of the Belgian. Annex 3bis is a pledge of financial support to the foreign applicant. Check with the Belgian partner’s parent(s) whether he/she is willing to be your sponsor.

If the parent agrees, submit an Annexe/Bijlage 3bis or a written Letter of Guarantee to the authority. If you have more documents to support your case, it may improve your chance of getting a residence permit visa. Please note if the guarantor is not a family member, the authority needs a Letter of Attorney.

The foreigner’s income or bank statement is not a critical consideration when it comes to attaining a residence permit. The Belgian income stability is more important in the decision making and not that of the foreign partner.

On the contrary, staying with parents and not renting an apartment are useful ways for demonstrating to the authority. It says that the couple has some form of financial relief. Additionally, it may help to strengthen the case.

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 fascinating Belgium from the eyes of an expat.