Monday, 17 February 2020

⑱ Legal Cohabitation Visa Template for Documents and Proof of Relationship



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

Firstly, I uploaded all my photos and documents in external cloud storage services such as Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive or Dropbox. You can use other cloud services too.

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: –

  1. When did you first know each other?
  2. How did you know each other? Through mutual friends? Online dating? Overseas trip? Exchange Programmes in school? Others?
  3. How did both of you communicate to maintain your relationship? What mode of communication did you use? Facebook, Whatsapp, Email, Skype or others?
  4. Where and when did you first meet each other?
  5. How many days did you spend the first meetup together?
  6. 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.
  7. 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.

I had also directed the link of the relevant file to the cloud service. Thus, the date was also clear since some documents are only valid for six months from the time of application.


» How to Link Activities to External Photos and Documents?

  1. Generate a shareable link in the cloud storage for each uploaded photo or file.
  2. Copy and paste the link to your text marked P1 or D1.
  3. 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…


Location

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.


Total Days

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.

  1. Photos Proof (74 photos)
  2. Documents Proof (12 files)
  3. Air Ticket Record (11 files)
  4. 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)
  5. 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.


Miscellaneous Information

» 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?


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.

22 comments

  1. Hello Miss SJ,

    I am Khuong. I applied the documents for the cohabitation visa and waiting for the result. Before coming to Belgium I need to finalize some documents with Social Security in my country (this just legal in my country), I really need the information about the number of visa. I know of course is different for every people but how is the type of cohabitation visa number? For example, the tourist visa is BEL. Thank you so much. Khuong

  2. Hello,

    This article is exactly what I was looking for! To give you a little bit more background, I lived in the US for a while where I met my (American) girlfriend. I (Belgian Citizen) moved back a few months ago, and we are now exploring ways to get her over to Belgium so we can live together.

    We have been dating for 1 year now and have taken several trips together and visited each other several times since I moved back to Europe. I was hoping to submit a file so she can request a “Visum type C” and we can register for legal cohabitation. What do you think our chances are provided we’ve only been dating for 1 and not 2 years?

    In the meanwhile, may I also ask to share your template so I can start working on a file to prove out our relationship? Can’t wait to live with her, thanks for your help!

    • Hi Pieter, as your girlfriend is an American citizen, she does not need a Visa C to come to Belgium. Type C is a tourist visa. America passports can be exempted for entering Europe for 90 days. You can probably apply a Bijlage 3 bis for her before coming over, so she will just buy a one-way ticket and not round-trip ticket to declare a cohabitation. When she is stopped at the Airport customs, just show the officer the Bijlage 3bis and everything will be fine. The article will explain more.

      As long as the relationship is not 2 years old, there is always a possibility of getting denied. But again, there are always exceptions. If you have lived with her in the US before even for a few months and can show proof of tenancy agreement of by paying some bills with records showing shared address, the chances of success are always higher. The more you show proof (other than photos) of each other involvement, the more authentic and serious you show to the officers.

      I always tell people to have a strong heart to go through rejections if they really want to be with each other. So, what if there is a rejection? You both just have to repeat the family reunification process, pay €200 each time and go through another 6-month of Orange Card process. The good news is that she can continue staying with you for as long as possible until she gets her F Card. If she does not want to go through the torture (for some) of getting a refusal, then wait until 2 years to apply. Do note that your income also counts as part of the success factors.

      PS: I have emailed you the template. Please check.

  3. Translated:

    Hello! I have a question.

    I am a couple with a Belgian. I am 29 years old and from Latin America. She is 30 years old. I am a lawyer, and she’s a teacher.

    We have known each other since 2017 and made three trips to see each other. We have lived together for more than 45 days.

    The relationship works really well, and we already want to be able to live together.

    Since my country does not need a short-stay visa, I thought I would go there so that we could ask the commune directly for legal cohabitation.

    We have proof of travel with our passports, plane tickets, photos together, his parents’ witness, my parents, a friend of hers and a Belgian friend of mine, all with photocopies of both sides of the identity cards.

    It is a real and serious affectionate relationship, but we are afraid that everything we have to prove it is not enough for the Registrar of Civil Status.

    Do you think that with all that we would accept the request? It should be in print with two copies, right?

    Could you please send me a model of presentation to see if mine is well done?

    Thank you very much in advance!!

    ========

    Original:

    Bonjour! J’ai une question.

    Moi, je suis un couple avec une belge, moi j’ai 29 ans, je suis de l’Amérique Latine, elle a 30 ans. Moi, avocat, et elle professeure.

    On se connaît depuis 2017 et on a fait trois voyages pour nous revoir, ayant habité ensemble plus de 45 jours.
    Vraiment la relation marche super bien et on voudrait déjà pouvoir habiter ensemble.

    Étant donné que mon pays a pas besoin de visa de court séjour, on avait pensé de que j’y aille pour qu’on puisse demander directement à la commune la cohabitation légale.

    On a des preuves des voyages avec nos passeports, tickets d’avion, photos ensemble, témoin des ses parents, de mes parents, d’une amie à elle et d’un ami belge à moi, tous avec photocopie recto-verso des cartes d’identité.

    C’est une relation affective réelle et sérieuse mais on a peur de que tout ce qu’on a pour la démontrer suffisse pas à l’oficier de l’état civil.

    Tu penses qu’avec tout ca on nous accepterait la demande? On devrait le présenter tout imprimé avec deux copies, n’est-ce pas?

    Pourrais-tu m’envoyer s’il te plaît un modèle de présentation pour voir si le mien est-il bien fait?

    D’avance, merci beaucoup!!

    • Hi José, it seems that you have enough proof of relationship on first glance, including testimony from family and friends which you can submit in your document. Yes, please come directly to Belgium and apply for the cohabitation. Remember to get these documents legalised in your country before coming over.

      Do not worry about not giving enough proof because the commune will give you a list to mention the documents you need to submit. If you miss out any, they will ask for it. This is my checklist for your preparation before coming. If you bring all the documents mentioned inside, it is sufficient. Some other documents like insurance, house deed or rental contract and proof of income have to be provided by your Belgian partner.

      You only need to submit one set of documents either by print, in a USB stick, or email where you can scan or take photographs of the documents. The method of submission depends on the commune and what they want. I have emailed over the template for your reference. I wish you good luck in your family reunion process with your partner!

  4. Dear MissSJ,

    I am Cindy from Malaysia. Will start the procedure soon. Feel so thankful about your experience sharing. Your guidance is truly helpful and details. Would you please share me about the template to compile the relationship evidence too?

    Thanks so much and stay cheerful 🙂

    Yours sincerely
    Cindy Chan

  5. Hi MissSJ! I have to thank you for making this website. It is super helpful in clearing up nearly all of the confusions we had with the process.

    Currently in the process of getting all our data. There’s also some tricks for getting messages from Facebook messenger which are helpful.

    I was wondering though, how many pages did your final document have that you submitted?

    Could you please also send me the template by e-mail? It would be super helpful. Thank you!

    • Hi Shadows, I’m glad that my website has helped you cleared up some confusion through personal experiences :). I have just emailed you the cohabitation template that you requested. From the draft copy that you received, I had submitted 3 pages of text document only, excluding photos and other attachments on it. I had stored all my photos and documents onto a cloud system, with a jump link for the staffs to see them if they want.

      I believe that is the best and most uncluttered method because you would not know if they really have the interest to look at those photos. I did not want to give them a book to read so 3 pages in concise sentences of my 6-year relationship would make it easy for them to digest the information. You can find the information on the same page on the number of photos and documents submitted.

  6. Hello, I have a question. I had lived in Belgium before and had an F Card after 2 months. I have broken up with my ex. In the end, I had lost the right to live in Belgium. I appealed and went to court, but the answer was negative. I had to leave Belgium in 1 month to go back to my country. Now I have a new girlfriend. Can I still go back to Belgium and start a new procedure there with my new girlfriend?

    • Hi Sma, the same old rule of the relationship still applies. That is, you have to know her for at least 2 years or have lived together for 1 year before you apply for a new procedure. If the relationship is still new and only have a few months of records, it is best not to go back to Belgium if the chance of success is low. It will also say that your relationship with the new girl is not real when the duration is too short. Hope this clarifies.

      • Thanks for the answer. I appreciate that. We are one year together. My Dutch girlfriend and I have plans to marry in Netherland and then move to live in Belgium. I don’t know if it is possible?

        • Hi Sma, yes it is possible. With marriage, you are not subject to the 2 years timeline of being together. Bring over your marriage certificate. Please note that the procedure is not easier or shorter if you decide to take this route. You will still need to submit all the relevant documents to apply for Belgian residency.

          • Hi, thank you for the answer. Does my Holland girlfriend need to move to Belgium with me after marriage?

            • Hi Sma, yes it is possible. With marriage, you are not subject to the 2 years timeline of being together. Bring over your marriage certificate. Please note that the procedure is not easier or shorter if you decide to take this route. You will still need to submit all the relevant documents to apply for Belgian residency.

  7. Very interesting things you put up here, it really makes the visum application more stand out than others. I was wondering if it’s possible to download the template you used for your application?

    • Hi Maako, I have emailed you the requested template. Then, you can change it accordingly. If you didn’t get the mail, kindly check your junk folder. Thanks for your compliment anyway! 🙂 Cheers!

  8. Hello, 2 questions:

    1) My girlfriend is Turkish and we want to apply for legal cohabitation. Can we start the process here in Belgium? She has still got 60 days visa C (tourist). Can we start the process here with this visa?

    2) Should we print everything or can we send the files digitally? Especially documents like pictures and stuff.

    Regards
    Giel

    • Hi Giel,

      1) Yes, she can start the procedure with a tourist visa in Belgium. I have also read from a case about a Turkish whom she had to go back to her country to wait for the approval after applying it in Belgium.
      1) The method of delivery depends on how your commune wants you to do. Some may want printed copies whereas some will prefer you to give the files digitally. The commune will advise you when you apply for a family reunification.

      You can also let us know later whether she leaves or stays in Belgium after the application.

      • Thank you for the reply!

        We will apply after 11 October 🙂 Once I know if she has to stay or leave, I will drop a comment.

        We almost collected everything. I have one more question (this is probably our biggest concern): Can my parents be the official sponsors of my girlfriend?

        My official address is at my parents home since I lived one year in Istanbul with my girlfriend and now I came back for a job opportunity. We are planning to live at my parents home for at least one year so that I can save money. I will start working in September, but I cannot prove a decent income for 12 months. They told me this is really important if you want to declare a legal cohabitation.

        Warm regards,
        Giel

        • Hi Giel, thank you for agreeing to share the outcome of your Turkish girlfriend whether she can continue to stay in Belgium for her family reunification process on the decision of her residence permit. I look forward to the reply! 😀

          Having your parents as the guarantors are the only way your girlfriend can get the approval successfully in your circumstance.

          Here is a success case of a lady who was in a similar situation as you. She got her F Card approved on the first attempt despite her boyfriend working for less than a year as she had a Belgian sponsor. Please read the subsequent 3 comments for the solution.

          As a highlight, a Letter of Guarantee works best if it is notarized. State in the letter how your parents can help you to reduce your financial burden and other favourable remedies.

          If they are supporting you financially, write that as well. But note that the Gemeentehuis may want to see your bank statements monthly to prove that your parents are giving you money every month. Also, submit your latest pay slip (if any) and your work contract indicating your monthly salary.

          Lastly, check with the Gemeentehuis whether you still need to submit a Bijlage 3bis form when you go to the Gemeentehuis on 11 October 2018. Best of luck and be hopeful! 🙂

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