TABLE OF CONTENTS
1. Submit a Complete File
2. Upload Photos and Documents in Cloud Storage
• Pros and Cons of Cloud Storage
3. Divide Presentation Template into Rows and Columns Table
4. Introducing Your Relationship
5. Description of Activity
• Activities Highlights
• Cohabitation Documents
6. Air Ticket Record
• How to Label Air Ticket Record?
7. Photo (P) / Document (D) Link
• How to Link Activities to External Photos and Documents?
• Document Test Link from Google Drive
• Labelling of Photos and Documents
9. Total Days
10. My Folder in Cloud Storage
11. Miscellaneous Information
• Your Blogging Website
• Concluding Sentences
• Contact Details
12. Final Proof Check of Hyperlinks in Template
Legal Cohabitation Visa Template for Presenting Proof of Relationship & Required Documents
The presentation template is in conjunction with the first part of the article – 13) Proof of Relationship: Ideas and Suggestions for Legal Cohabitation Visa. I design the order according to my 3) Timeline Events Overview of Cohabitation Visa. Hence, the articles are not in order.
Include all the information and files as much as you can even if the commune does not ask for them. The logic is to deter the authority from requesting more documents later each time they request for one document which you did not submit which will drag a longer time to your family reunion process. The commune did not ask me for the ‘Certificate of Good Conduct’ but I attached it anyway.
Submit a Complete File
In my Timeline Overview Events, you can see that each time the commune asked for one document, they would take a few days to reply back. Correspondingly, on the Belgian Immigration Office website in the French language, in the second paragraph, the translated version states:
Read carefully on the information of the supporting documents to produce before submitting your files. If the consulate has to ask for additional documents before making a decision or before sending your file to the Aliens Office, you may not receive your visa in time.
Upload Photos and Documents in Cloud Storage
No matter which remote system you use, it must be able to generate a shared link of an individual file. Also, it must have enough storage space if you have previously stored other documents or photos inside.
For free cloud services, I suggest using Google Drive. So far, it has the highest storage space of 15 GB among all. Following is Microsoft OneDrive with 5 GB cloud storage. Dropbox Basic Plan has only 2 GB of external storage space without any referral. Each successful referral will add 500 MB of extra storage space.
» Pros and Cons of Cloud Storage
The advantage of using a cloud service is indisputably its large storage capacity. Unlike a typical email file restriction of 25 MB, the email will bounce back the moment you exceed the file size limit.
On the other hand, you can load as many high-resolution photos, documents or even videos to the cloud service. The drawback is that you need a lot of time to upload all the documents. Moreover, additional effort is needed to ensure that the links are working fine. I took four days to complete all my files and then, submit to the commune.
Before submitting your document to the authority,
- Double check all the external links to the cloud storage. Ensure there are no broken links.
- Check the dates of the photos. They must reflect the creation or original photos’ date and not on the day of upload. If that happens, delete the photo and upload it again.
Divide Presentation Template into Rows and Columns Table
Secondly, choose an Excel or Word format. Next, create a table with the information below. My preferred modus operandi is word.docx for my cohabitation visa template. Write your relationship history here. Subsequently, point the evidence to the external cloud drive especially the photos.
Rows (Horizontal): Divide the rows into numbers of years of relationship. You must present at least 2 years of relationship history. To make the presentation more attractive, give each year a different colour.
Columns (Vertical): Divide the columns into the subjects that you want to present to the authority. I used five columns for my presentation.
① Date: The period that you have met and stayed with each other, the particulars date of special events that you want to highlight.
② Description of Activity: Describe in short and easy to understand sentences. Avoid having too many grammatical and spelling errors so as not to make the reading experience difficult. Proofread all your text at least once after completion.
➅ Air Ticket Record: Due to the space constraint in the number of columns, hence, I attached a link to my return air tickets to the end of this section. Each trip should show the duration of the meetup.
③ Photo (P) / Document (D) Link: Label the links directing to the photos on the cloud storage as P1, P2, P3. Whereas, the documents are marked starting with D1, D2, D3 so on and so forth.
④ Location: Countries or places where you and your partner meet or have a holiday together.
⑤ Total Days: The total number of days spent with your partner in one trip. You must accumulate a minimum total of 45 days and meet for at least three times in two years. Show all the evidence accordingly.
Introducing Your Relationship
In the first opening row of the template, give an introduction of your relationship considering the following questions: –
- When did you first know each other?
- How did you know each other? Through mutual friends? Online dating? Overseas trip? Exchange Programmes in school? Others?
- How did both of you communicate to maintain your relationship? What mode of communication did you use? Facebook, Whatsapp, Email, Skype or others?
- Where and when did you first meet each other?
- How many days did you spend the first meetup together?
- Have you both lived together for at least a year in a country? If so, write that down. Provide the rental contract with both your name with the same residential address.
- What is the profession of your partner in Belgium? If he has the same job ever since you know him, put that down as it is a plus point to emphasise job stability.
Description of Activity
Other than stating the obvious statement of just meeting each other, give important highlights of the meeting. Besides that, enhance events which suggest a serious commitment to each other.
» Activities Highlights
- a) Meeting each other’s parents and other family members.
- b) Travelling, meeting or activities with each other’s friends.
- c) Meeting with each other’s colleagues or attending company functions.
- d) Purchase of equipment for household use and provide the receipt with the foreign partner’s name as evidence.
An Example: In 2015, my partner bought a 4K TV in Belgium. The receipt had my name on it for tax claim in the airport. My partner paid for the TV. But, inside the description, I used the word “co-purchase” to sound like we bought the expensive TV together.
- e) Screenshots of important dates to emphasise the duration for being together
- f) Overseas trips together with your partner other than in Belgium and the origin country of the foreign partner
- g) Birthday cards (inclusive of e-card), postcards and letters from each other or mutual friends
» Cohabitation Documents
I stated the date and description of my application for each certificate brought over to Belgium from Singapore in the template. Examples are Certificate of Celibacy, Certificate of Good Conduct (No Criminal Record) and Health Insurance bought online. Then, I linked my document evidence in the “Photo (P) / Document (D) Link” column.
Air Ticket Record
Air tickets are the most expensive trade-off in a long-distance relationship. When two parties are willing to spend money and time visiting each other regularly, isn’t it a telltale sign of a committed relationship?
I knew my partner for six years. We visited each other on an average of every six months either in Belgium or Singapore. Furthermore, I even stressed the amount of money spent solely on both our airfares.
Unquestionably, they were a whopping few thousand Euro for both our airfare expenses alone. The emphasis was to tell the authority how serious we were towards the relationship. Additionally, the amount of effort and time made to see each other.
» How to Label Air Ticket Record?
For each trip, I merged the round trip air tickets into one PDF file. I labelled them ‘Air Ticket Record: 1’ and so forth. I have a total of 10 pairs of return air tickets to submit. So, I labelled them from 1 to 10.
For more information to combine the air tickets or other documents online in a PDF format, please refer to my article section – How to Combine and Merge Documents into a Single PDF file Online?
Photo (P) / Document (D) Link
You and your partner might have taken hundreds of photos together yet you are not going to submit everything. That’s for sure. Choose the images and documents that can illustrate your sentences under “Description of Activity” consequently.
The essential photos for submission are those taken with family members, colleagues and friends. That is to show active involvement in each other’s lives. Indeed, the relationship of a couple might seem more real if family members get involved in the photo-taking.
For each activity described, make it a point to attach at least one photo of the two of you together. Likewise, for documents, I mentioned the application or purchase date of a certificate or health insurance.
» How to Link Activities to External Photos and Documents?
- Generate a shareable link in the cloud storage for each uploaded photo or file.
- Copy and paste the link to your text marked P1 or D1.
- Test the hyperlink. When you click on the anchor text, it should open to the page of the link that you want.
Here is a YouTube tutorial on Adding a Hyperlink from Documents in Google Drive to the Anchor Text. The tutorial also has clear explanations on the method that I explained.
» Document Test Link from Google Drive
I have uploaded a Checklist of Moving to Belgium to Google Drive for showing you how the information about your photo and document will look like in Google Drive.
- Click on the link which will take you to the Checklist Excel Sheet
- On the top right-hand corner, click More Actions
- Select Details
You will be able to see the «Modified» and «Created» dates. Both dates or usually the «Created» date should at least reflect the actual day and year which the photo was taken.
» Labelling of Photos and Documents
I labelled my photos according to the Air Ticket Record Number because they belonged to the same trip. For the ‘Air Ticket Record: 1’, I would label the photos for the journey as P1a, P1b, P1c and so on.
When my partner and I met the next time, the label would be ‘Air Ticket Record: 2’ consequentially. The photos taken during the trip would be P2a, P2b, P2c and so forth. Since there were only a few documents, the labelling started from D1 onwards, then D2, D3…
The location is rather straightforward. It is where the activities take place. The point of interests other than Belgium and that of the foreign partner might denote the couple spending time out of their comfort zone. As a result, both connect to a deeper experience in unfamiliar challenges.
A summary of the total number of days met for each rendezvous. As a rule of thumb, it should exceed 45 days. Both parties must have met at least three times and knew each other for two years.
My Folders in Cloud Storage
I summarised all the uploaded photos and documents into 5 main folders below. Besides, I mentioned the number of files in each folder.
- Photos Proof (74 photos)
- Documents Proof (12 files)
- Air Ticket Record (11 files)
- My Personal Detail (4 files) » Scanned/Photograph of Passport Detail, French Student Visa affixed on it, Birth Certificate and Singapore Identification Card (though I think it was not necessary to furnish that)
- Partner’s Detail (4 files) » Title Deed/Rental Agreement, 12-months Salary Slips, National Health Insurance, €160 Payment Proof (back then in 2014… Now the family reunification processing fee increases to €200!)
For each folder in the cloud storage, generate a shared link. Highlight the folder name in your Words or Excel documents, right-clicked and choose “Add Link”. Lastly, paste the generated ‘shared link’ URL onto “Add Link” and save.
The method explained is for Macbook. You should find something similar in the Microsoft system. You can check on the Youtube tutorial if you are not sure how to create a hyperlink.
Hopefully, this step is not too complicated to do it. We do not know whether the authority would click every photo or document link under the “Description of Activity” section. Hence, the staffs reviewing your case can click on your folder link to see everything instead of individual files or photos.
» Your Blogging Website
I blogged about travelling with my partner on another website which has photos of our faces and our friends together. I gave all the URL links related to travel or food blogs since the web pages have the date of our activities in the past. If you have blogs or public journal online relating to your partner and you, submit the links as proof of relationship then. Your partner ‘s face has to be on the blog. Otherwise, it defeats the purpose.
» Concluding Sentences
This proof of relationship presentation also gives you a chance to say something to the authority if you have. Thus, I made use of this golden opportunity to tell them:-
- Why do we want to be together?
- What was the motivation after knowing each other for several years?
Overall, I wrote about 2 to 4 sentences for the purpose of impressing them on the durability of our relationship. It is also a great way of concluding my presentation. Lastly, do not forget to thank them for their time at the end of the presentation.
» Contact Details
I round up my presentation with both our full names, contact numbers and email addresses.
Final Proof Check of Hyperlinks in Template
Finally, after all the uploads, use some time to test all the links of your cohabitation template. Make sure that the dates of the photos are correct and not adjusted to the current year. That means the dates should not change to the day which you upload them. Contrarily, you cannot prove the duration of the relationship accurately if the period is wrong.
Is the legal cohabitation visa template useful for you? Is there anything that you want to know more?