Tuesday, 20 October 2020

⑫ Legal Cohabitation Requirements: Read Alien Office’s Email



Legal Cohabitation Requirements after Signing the Contract

This post includes the instructions on legal cohabitation requirements in Belgium from the commune. Following my visit after signing the legal cohabitation agreement on 15 July 2016, this article is about the contents of the letters received and the transmission of the emails between the municipal and me.

In fact, all communications were by emails. Hence, it made things so much easier. As a result, no more visiting the Stadhuis anymore except to collect my Orange Card and the residence permit F Card / Belgian eID. The cohabitation process was running smoothly for weeks until the day I received my Orange Card.

During my holiday in France from 16 to 31 July, I received two letters dated 18 July from Stad Antwerpen. It was three days after I signed the Declaration of Legal Cohabitation Agreement. The response was fast.


The Content of First Letter dated 18 July 2016

» Delayed Registration of Legal Cohabitation

The email acknowledged that I had declared a legal cohabitation. Unfortunately, the municipal office could not register the agreement inside the National Register for the time being. They needed more time to conduct further investigation. After the verification, the municipal office would make a decision as soon as possible.

The registration in the National Register of my legal cohabitation declaration was postponed to 15 September 2016. The given date would be two months after signing the cohabitation contract. The public prosecutor might extend this period for another three months. If the extension occurred, the commune would inform me by writing.


The Content of Second Letter dated 18 July 2016

» Proof of Relationship for “Declaration of Legal Cohabitation”

For a smooth preparation of my file, I have to present evidence of the relationship with my partner in advance. The Municipal Office provided the examples below for submission which help them to determine the duration of the relationship.

  • Facebook prints
  • Documents
  • Invoices
  • Letters
  • Any other proofs

On top of that, they wanted a summary or overview of our relationship to help them get a better picture. I have to provide all the evidence before 1 August 2016. The evidence can be sent by email or delivered to Districtshuis Deurne during office hours. If I want to use the email method, the subject heading or body text must state the reference number clearly.

The file reference number for this letter starts with ws. It stands for ‘wettelijk samenwonen which means ‘legal cohabitation’.


Content of Email dated 22 July 2016

  • Proof of Relationship for “Investigation of Fake Relationship”

On 22 July 2016, still on holiday in France, I received an email with a file reference number starting with CL. I had no clue what CL implied. It was not the same reference number as above.

The sent email was in regards to the ‘Registration of Newcomer’ in Antwerp performed by my boyfriend on 13 July 2016. Only some communes provide this online registration for a newcomer in Belgium. Thus, we had made use of this service.

The email affirmed that the office had my application for registration as a newcomer well received. They had started a file with reference ‘CL’. To further assess my case, I had to provide them with additional information as soon as possible with the following documents:

  • Foreign passport and visa
  • Approval for Declaration of Legal Cohabitation Contract
  • Proof of Relationship / Evidence for relationship durability in a legal cohabitation:
    • Common child OR Proof of living together for 1 year OR Know each other for 2 years
    • Title Deed of the property OR registered lease
    • Proof of health insurance valid for the partner and his/her family living in Belgium
    • Proof of income of the partner in Belgium (Eg. payslips)
    • Payment Proof of federal contribution

Email the documents digitally to the Immigration office. (They seem to encourage this method.)


How Do You Send Your Documents?

  1. Documents scan separately including front and rear;
  2. In the subject heading of the email: full name and the file reference number;
  3. List the attached documents in the covering email.


Important

There is a federal fee for processing the application for residence in Belgium. It is part of the contribution to cover the cost partially of certain procedures.


How Much Should You Pay?

€160 for processing of the application (which is the cost contributed from a foreigner of third national / non-EU country). This amount may differ if the applicant is from EU/EEA or in other circumstances). The final amount can change depending on the final application submitted (anyway, there was no additional cost for me).

* Latest Fee Update as of May 2018: €200 


How Do You Pay?

  1. A European bank transfer to their bank account number.
  2. Fill in the following reference note in the following manner on the bank transfer:
    • Foreign Partner’s Name | Surname | Nationality | Date of Birth
  3. Attach the proof of payment to the documents requested above.
  4. Without the payment receipt, the request could not be processed.

(My boyfriend filled in his bank detail instead of mine during the bank transfer. Luckily, it was not a big problem after clarifying with the staff on the day of collecting the Orange Card.)


What Happens After Receipt Of The Documents?

There would be an email acknowledgement. The documents sent over would be added to my file which they created. After processing the documents, they would send me an email to inform my appointment for registration.




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.

42 comments

  1. Hello, I’m sorry. I don’t know where I can really post a question here, but I’d like to know if I can apply for a cohabitation visa with my boyfriend in Belgium and find a work when I get there? Will this visa allow me to apply for a job when I get to Belgium? Thank you so much.

  2. Hi, please I would like to know when you first visit the commune with your partner and give them both documents, what will they give? Is it an orange card or they will first give you a declaration receipt

    • Hi Ama, kindly read this article when you declare a cohabitation at the commune. They will not issue an Orange Card when you first visit the place. Additionally, you may have to go through 1 or 2 interviews at the city hall or a police visit first before signing the contract. Things are getting a bit more strict and difficult now as compared to my time. You will also not get a declaration receipt on the spot. The legal cohabitation approval will be sent to you by post a few weeks later after you sign the paper.

  3. Please, madam. I would like to know if my legal cohabitation was cancelled by my partner and the court by letter. Can I still have the right to live in the same address or my address will be removed after some times? Thanks.

    • Hi Kaycee, you can continue to live in the same address if the legal cohabitation is cancelled legally, provided it is also agreeable by your partner. If your partner wants you out of the house and the ownership or rental is under her name, then you have to move out of the house. It is more of a personal arrangement between the two of you.

  4. Hello dear,

    I am a student in Liege and I will be finishing June this year. I have been with my French girlfriend for almost two years now. However, we never lived together. We are planning to find an apartment and declare cohabitation in Belgium.

    Now from what I understood, I have already fulfilled the condition of knowing each other for 2 years. However, she doesn’t work yet, and she is planning to find a job in Belgium during the next few months. My question is will we be able to cohabit immediately after she finds a job or there is a waiting period or something like that?

    Also what kind of contract should she be having? Will a fixed-term contract (CDD in French) do the job or should she get an open-ended contract (CDI in French)? I also know that there is a minimum salary requirement but I am not sure how much it is. Finally, is there any other requirement we need to fulfil or that would be all, please?

    There is a high possibility that I’ll find a job myself using my master’s degree obtained from Belgium. I will have a contract and everything but as a student. Meaning I will be a student resident even though I will not be actually attending school (I have a couple of friends who did exactly that) since getting a work permit requires a minimum salary of 3000 euros, and no fresh graduate can get that in Belgium. Anyway, so will that make things easier for us?

    Another piece of information to mention is that my mother is Belgian but she doesn’t reside in Belgium, I don’t know if she can help me by any chance? Maybe she can sponsor me or something (I already have the Annex 32 from her). Best regards to you

    • Hi Farouq, you can apply for legal cohabitation anytime with your girlfriend. It is not difficult to get approval. The difficult part is the family reunion after it which will grant you an F Card.

      A CDD is prefered and one has to work for one year as a requirement. As for the minimum salary to apply for family reunification, you can refer to this post.

      Your salary is not a factor for consideration. Your French partner’s wages matter more. Yes, your mother can be a guarantor for your case and increase your chances of getting approved since both of you fall short on the income requirements.

      • That is good news actually.

        Well, quite frankly I don’t know if my girlfriend will find a job with these requirements so I will go with my mother’s option as it is much easier and she is already my sponsor.

        Another note is that even if my girlfriend finds a job this year, the next year she will resume her master’s studies, meaning she will be a student all again. Do you think that that will cause a problem?

        And for my mother’s sponsorship, do you think it will be 100% accepted?

        • Hi Farouq,

          If you can get your F Card before she goes back to school next year, then it does not affect your application anymore. However, if your application is not yet approved while she becomes a student again, then yes, it might be affected. Therefore, apply as early as you can as the whole cohabitation process can take up to 1 year.

          Anyway, looking at your situation, your girlfriend will not fulfil the 12-months working criteria even if she can find a job now with the required minimum salary. You have only one option now. Your mother has to be the guarantor and put in writing stating she will support you every month with the required amount like what I told you in the comment above.

          Her sponsorship will be accepted as long as she fulfils the criteria of being a guarantor. I do not see it as a problem since she is now sponsoring for your study. However, whether your family reunification process goes through or not is up to the Immigration Office. I can only tell you there are success cases with this method, but I can’t tell you whether you will succeed eventually as other conditions will come into play for the authority to decide. If you try, there is hope. If you don’t, you have none.

          • Thank you very much for your thorough response, you are a true gift. So yes, I will go with my mother’s option. Thank you again!

            • Oh yes, please do use your mother as a sponsor for your family reunion! If you go through this successfully, please share your good news so others can benefit from it! I wish you good luck! 🙂

  5. Hello Miss SJ, thank you so much for the information, it is very helpful. I recently came to Belgium from Uganda to visit my boyfriend who lives in Deinze. I have a 90-day visa, and we want to apply for cohabitation. We do not, however, know where to begin or which office to go to for inquiries such as these. I would really appreciate if you could guide me on this. Also, my boyfriend is not European but has lived in Belgium for over 10 years. Thanks in advance.

    • Hi I2I, sorry. It seems like I have missed a couple of comments here without my knowledge! I am not sure whether I have replied to you before. But as to your question, You have to go to the Districtshuis of where your boyfriend lives and ask to apply for the legal cohabitation. From there, the staff will guide you on the procedure. You may have to undergo police visit and also interview before you can sign the paper. I hope you have already passed this stage when as of now.

  6. Hey there,

    I am from Mexico studying in Spain a masters program (student visa now that expires Sep 2019). I’ve been in a relationship with a Belgian for 1 year 8 months. I would like to know the best option to stay after my student visa expires. I’ve read some info regarding marriage, legal cohabitation, and family visa. What do you recommend?

    • Hi Anai, it is entirely up to you whether to do a legal cohabitation or marriage. At the end of the day, it will give you the same thing. That is the residence permit – F Card which permits you to live in Belgium.

      • Thanks a lot for your quick response! If I get married in April, can I apply immediately after marriage for the family reunification? Do I need to stay in Belgium during the proceeding 6 months waiting period or can we travel? We have already planned to visit Mexico in July and we have already our flight tickets. Thanks in advance!!

        • Hi Anai, if you are planning to marry this April, you can travel as long as your student visa is valid, and the city hall does not collect it back and exchange for an Orange Card. From what I know, they do not do that. The family reunification will be processed automatically once you ask for marriage in the city hall as you are a foreigner, you cannot stay longer than the intended visa date. I do not know whether you can choose the date to get married as it is given by the city hall. You have to make a trip down to ask them regarding the procedure and the submission of documents prior to marriage.

  7. Hello,

    I wanted to ask you for some general information about the cohabitation procedure because I am not fully informed about the conditions. So I am explaining to you my situation. I would appreciate any information or suggestion that you might provide.

    So, I know my girlfriend for about 9 months, and we have been living together for 3 months now. I come from Albania (which is not part of the EU). Generally, I am allowed to stay here in Belgium only 90 days in 180. I have been living here for about 6 months now. As I am staying here illegally, our rented apartment is in the name of my girlfriend. She is a Belgian citizen, working and living in Antwerpen.

    We want to start this procedure as soon as possible. Before doing it, we want to collect some information from you and other similar stories that you know which are the same as our circumstances.

    Thank you in advance for your help!

    • Hi Joan,

      Thanks for sharing your predicament. One of the criteria is to know each other for 2 years or live together for 1 year which you have not fulfilled yet. Thus, you are likely to get a rejection. The best way is to get married because it has no timeline criteria.

      I have known a non-EU friend who stayed in Belgium illegally for a few years. Then, she got married to a Belgian man and told the Gemeentehuis honestly about her situation. Eventually, she got her F card successfully.

      A criterion to declare a legal cohabitation is to do it within 3 months upon your arrival. You have now exceeded the timeline. So, I am not sure whether the municipal office will still allow you to sign the cohabitation paper. If not, you may have to opt for marriage.

      You also need some relevant documents to declare a legal cohabitation or for marriage. The Certificate of Celibacy to prove that you are single is the first document any commune would ask before allowing you to sign the cohabitation contract.

      If you manage to declare a cohabitation and fail to get the residency permit later, you have to repeat the procedure. By the time you reapply for the second time, both of you would have lived together for a year. But then, you still have to prove that the two of you live together with some documents such as a rental contract with both names on it.

      Overall, it will be quite challenging for your situation. I would suggest you make an appointment in your commune to discuss the matter and the appropriate action to take as you have overstayed, which is different from most of us.

      • Hello,

        An update to my situation: My partner and I requested for cohabitation in March and in April. It was accepted. I must say that it was pretty simple. We just had to send the proofs they needed. The police visit was only 5 minutes. We didn’t even have to go for the interview. So now, after living together officially for 3 months, we decided to apply for the family reunification.

        Today, I got the email. They just asked me to send them my passport and the approved cohabitation paper. To me, it is a bit strange as I have read your blog and at least to you, they have asked for more proofs. In any case, I was just wondering, is this a good sign that the process will go fine or you think is not a good sign. Thnx.

        • Hi Joan, the first step of legal cohabitation approval was at the district level, approved by the mayor. At the second step, the decision of the family reunification, which you will get an F Card is by Brussels Immigration Office. When you get an Orange Card and Annex 19ter later, they will ask you to submit more documents as proof of relationship in that paper. So, you have not come to that stage yet.

          In Antwerp where I live, applicants would be asked to submit the proof of relationship two times – one before the legal cohabitation approval and the other when receiving the Orange Card. Whereas for other cities, most people will only submit the proof of relationship once. The evidence that you will present at the second stage will go to the Immigration Office for their decision. In conclusion about your case, it is not an indicative sign of whether it is positive or not even if your first step ended faster than others.

          • Thank you for your information. I wanted to add that I am aware I don’t fulfil all the requirements to get a positive answer (to get the F card) as the only obstacle is that I know my partner for only 1.5 years already. But as you keep on saying, even if I get a negative answer from them, I can apply again. And by then, I will fulfil all the requirements. My only concern now is, will they at least grant me an orange for applying now or it can also be a negative decision about it? I also live in Antwerp, by the way. Thank you.

            • Hi Joan, yes, you will still get an Orange Card no matter what because you have already received the legal cohabitation paper. It should come quite soon since you have already got the approval in April or May. If you have 1.5 years of relationship, you will still stand a chance to get the residency. There are quite a few people that I came across, who did not have a full 2-year relationship when they applied, they still get the F card.

  8. Hi MissSJ,

    Thanks for the information. Can I ask if it is possible to get a new Schengen Visa whilst the process is running and I am out of Belgium? That is, staying out for my official assignment with proof but my visa expires whilst I am out of Belgium.

    Can I return if I have a new visa to continue the process? And will I be advisable to get a legal support in such circumstances?

    • Hi Ravi,

      I am not an expert in visa. I think the answer is no for getting a new Schengen Visa. Non-EU citizens cannot stay in the Schengen Zone for more than 90 days out of 180 days. This rule also means that no new visa should be granted to you. Orange Card (a.k.a Temporary Stay Card) is to cover your stay in Belgium after 90 days of your visa expiry date.

      You could, of course, seek legal support but I doubt the lawyers would be able to bend the EU rule. They may be able to offer you alternatives or write to the Immigration Office on your behalf. The best option from what I see is to get a Return Visa. You could send your enquiry to the Immigration Office or even your Embassy in Belgium with your situation and see whether they can offer any advice for you. Or, is there such a thing called “Multiple Entries Return Visa” which allows you to return back to Belgium on a case-by-case basis.

      • Hi MissSJ, My visa was not issued by Belgium embassy. But I want to know whether if I can return to continue if a new visa is issued in my home country after the current visa is expired? For the return visa, they sent an information that I have to get an attest of matriculation before they can grant me.

        Yes. I have a multiple entry visa which will expire in October but I will finish my job in November. At the moment, I am not in violation of the 90days in 180days. If my visa expires and I get a new visa for Belgium in my home country, can I return to continue with the process?

        • Hi Ravi,

          I am referring to your embassy in Belgium, not the Belgian Embassy because you are not a Belgian citizen. The preceding comment below was targetted after your visa expires in October as I am fully aware what kind of visa you are holding right now. It is tricky because you plan to return in November. Not advisable.

          Have you ever applied for a Schengen Visa continuously for 2 times, a total of 6 months without any break? Is that even possible? Because I have explained below about the 90/180 Schengen Rule.

          You may not be able to continue the cohabitation process once you leave the country without permission and caught by the Immigration Office. They will treat your application as cancelled. This point is stated in one of the websites. You have to apply the process all over again. At the returning airport, you may also be refused entry without a Return Visa after October. It is a risk after all. Do consider your plan again.

  9. I sent all proof of our relationship to them by email and received a reply that they will get back to me in few days with a substantive reply but I never received any email thereafter. A week later, the police came to our residence to have a conversation with my partner. 12 days later, I received a message by post for an interview with my partner.

    Unfortunately, I have to go onboard a ship to work before the scheduled date of my interview. My visa will expire in October, and I don’t know if I can ask the immigration to bring the interview in advance. And will it be possible for them to extend my visa so I can return after my contract to continue?

    • Hi Ravi,

      When the police came to your residence, and later you received an email to go for an interview, it was already a response from the commune to continue the next step of the lengthy cohabitation process.

      Yes, you can request the interview to be brought forward if you have a valid reason. I was also in the same situation as you when my partner was away at work. The date of collecting my Orange Card was brought forward one week earlier than scheduled.

      You have to email or call to give a range of dates that you would not be in Belgium. If the interview cannot take place before you leave due to lack of dates availability, then it will be scheduled after you come back to Belgium. It would be better to attach your work schedule (if any) in an email while explaining your situation.

      When the cohabitation process is running, you do not need to extend your travel visa at all. You do not have to do anything. Usually, they will provide an Orange Card (Temporary Stay Card) around October nearing to your visa expiration to cover you 6-month of stay in Belgium while waiting for a reply from the Immigration Office.

      However, nowadays I have noticed that the applicants were receiving their Orange Card much later after their visa expired. Most of them have to attend a police interview after the first Police visit which extended the collection date of Orange Card. They received it 5 or 6 months later after declaring their legal cohabitation. The cohabitation visa procedure is much longer than before. Do not be surprised if you do not get your Orange Card in October.

      Another thing to take note for your case is that once your visa expired, you are not allowed to travel out of Belgium, with or without an Orange Card. If you need to leave Belgium to work, you have to ask for Return Visa from your commune so that you can re-enter into Belgium smoothly.

      • Hi MissSJ, a very good information from you. Thanks very much. How do I ask for the return visa and what are the requirements or formalities. Will they give me the return visa to come and continue the process if I haven’t received the orange card yet?

        • Hi Ravi,

          I am not sure whether a Return Visa will be granted if you have not received your Orange Card and Appendix 19ter. The official websites state that the applicant should already possess Appendix 19ter when applying for the Return Visa.

          If your passport has 3-month visa-free or multiple entries to Belgium, then you do not need to apply for a Return Visa if you have to travel out of Belgium within these 3 months.

          For the Return Visa procedures, here are two articles that you can read and use a translation tool. They have almost the same information.

          1. Home Affairs FPS – Immigration Office
          2. Inburgering and Integration Agency

          You may have to fill up a form and contact the Belgian Embassy in your country. Submit proof of your working contract. A fee of estimated €160 may be imposed. That was what I read from one successful applicant. The procedure of the Return Visa was rather complicated.

  10. Hi Miss, may I know how long to get a reply after the police visit?

    • Hi Ravi, which reply are you referring? If you mean the residence card, 6 months after the Orange Card if approved. You should not count the numbers of days from a police visit. Sometimes, you get no reply from the Gemeentehuis even if the stay is approved. Hope I give you the answer that you want. Otherwise, please elaborate more.

  11. Hi Fion,

    Hi dear, I have received the Districthuis Deurne mail after I sent over my proof of photos and an essay of our relationship. They request for an interview to bring the passport, Belgian card and credit card as well (for payment). Unfortunately, I didn’t receive any mail for confirmation as a Newcomer after registration on a website.

    I don’t have any CL number also. No police officer came for investigation too. And I didn’t see any interview for you when you are applying for this visa. Did you go to Districthuis Deurne? Any tips for the interview ?

    • Hi Fion, it is fine if you did not receive any email regarding your newcomer (CL) process. As long as you have follow-up email from Deurne about the next procedure, then you are doing well. Yes, all the correspondences that I had were from Districtshuis Deurne.

      As for the interview in Deurne, I should congratulate you instead. You should be getting an Orange Card soon after making payment and not there for a routine interview about your relationship :). At the same time, inform the person-in-charge that the police has not visited your house yet.

      Can I know how much are you paying for your procedure? I have read that the processing fee has been increased to €200.

      • Hi Ms SJ,

        The processing fees for my case is RM 200. We can pay by credit card or bank card or cash (not exceeding 300) at the counter.

        I didn’t manage to do my visa on that day because they told me that I only could stay in Belgium for 3 months, in between a 6-month period. I came back here on April 27. My last entry to Belgium was in February. That time I stayed for 62 days. They counted from my first trip in February, so my 90-day visa has expired by the day I went to Deurne in May.

        They informed me that they could only extend my visa and do the procedure after I received the newcomer’s registration confirmation by email or by post. They can’t do anything at this stage till I mailed them the confirmed registration above.

        Note :

        Malaysian can stay in Belgium for three months under a tourist visa but only in between 6 months period.

        Meanwhile, I showed the immigration in Deune that I am going to have an interview in June. They asked me to go ahead but advised me to be good during this period as there were no guarantee that the police have caught me due to my expired visa and overdue stay.

        For the interview in June, they requested for an interpreter which is compulsory as the conversation will be in Dutch. Moreover, I will be separated from my partner during the session. The interview will be cancelled if I do not have an interpreter with me.

        • Hi Fion, thanks for the detailed explanation of your situation!

          1) RM 200? I think it should be €200 if you make the payment in Belgium. If you pay it in your country, the same Euro amount would be converted to RM. No less.

          2) When you first arrived in February (or April), did you declare your legal cohabitation and signed the paper? Because if you did, you are not affected by the 90 / 180 Schengen Rule. You can stay as long as the cohabitation process is running even though your visa has expired.

          If the Police come knocking on your door due to “overstaying of more than 90 days”, you have to show them the letter of legal cohabitation approval and explain to them. You may also need to make a trip to Immigration to explain the situation.

          There were some who had police asking them to leave due to overstaying even after a cohabitation declaration. However, these people managed to stay in Belgium after a complicated explanation. I hope you will not land yourself in that situation. Too much work and distress!

          3) If the newcomer’s registration confirmation criterion is so critical to decide the extension of your visa, give Deurne Stadhuis a call and also email them to ask about the status. It took 2 to 3 weeks for Deurne to get back to me regarding the Newcomer’s registration. How long is your wait now?

          4) As for the interview in Deurne, discuss with your partner and have similar answers like how you both would manage your finance and household together, what are the plans for the future, likes and preferences, names of both family members, his job description, sleeping habits etc. Like how you would convince the authority that you know each other well and that your relationship is genuine.

          • Hi Miss SJ

            Sorry for the mistake. It is Euro 200 for the processing fee.

            I have received the mail about the newcomer’s registration. It just said that they would give me further respond ASAP, so I have to wait until the next mail. I am looking for the interpreter from Chinese to Dutch for my June interview. They recommended me to find from the courthouse. Do you have any information for this interpreter in Chinese to Dutch or English to Dutch? Thanks ??

            • Hi Fion,

              I believe in the next email, they are going to ask you to submit the documents on the proof of relationship again. You have to submit at least 2 times in Antwerp.

              For translators from the courthouse, look for sworn translators. The sworn translator for Chinese to Dutch is limited. You have more choices if you get someone that translates from English to Dutch.