Tuesday, 31 March 2020

㉑ 9 Tips for Couples Applying for Cohabitation Visa Later



9 Practical Tips for Couples Applying for Legal Cohabitation Visa

Are you thinking of applying for the cohabitation visa at a later date? This article provides 9 tips for couples who are researching for information on legal cohabitation visa. Most of all, they do not want to start the cohabitation as of now. It is also suitable for those who have not arrived in Belgium yet.

Being someone who has already gone through the cohabitation process smoothly, I would be able to offer some insights. My advice is to gather and prepare as much information as possible while you still have the time. Here are some of the things that you can do before applying for the cohabitation visa.


1. Do Not Rush into Cohabitation Contract



Do not enter into a cohabitation agreement just to be together. The longer time you take to apply for legal cohabitation visa, you are proving to the authority the strength and stability of your relationship. That is to say that you will get the approval of your Belgian eID F Card more easily.

If you cannot prove a minimum of two years relationship with your partner, you are heading for failure. Other ingredients of cohabitation visa rejection are meeting your partner for less than three times and below 45 days in total.


2. Use Calendar, Journal or Diary to Track Important Dates



Personally, I use Google Calendar and Microsoft OneNote to record important dates over the years. I form a habit of jotting down my daily activities and blogging them, especially with my boyfriend when we are together. This good practice will help you tremendously in recalling all the events when it comes to submitting a proof of relationship timeline for the authority to review your relationship.

Remember you have to show the earliest date of your document backdated for at least two years at the point of document submission to the authority. An easy and practical method is to make a screenshot of the initial date when you first knew each other. The screenshot can be of any email, document or photo. You have to recall which is the earliest proof that you can find.

Whenever we met and took photos for the past six years since 2010, I uploaded them on Facebook albums. By referring to the albums’ dates, I can convey our many years of relationship history to the authority with ease. If you use Instagram or any other social media application that shows the date, the screenshot will work as well.


3. Be Over-Prepared than Under-Prepared



It is better to (over) prepare all the documents stated on the official website than to under-prepare yourself. You do not want to end up missing one document which you can only get in your home country. I refer to the Certificate of CelibacyBirth Certificate and Certificate of Good Conduct (No Criminal Record). If the commune asks for it and the foreign partner does not bring that copy, then you are not able to produce. Save your headache and bring everything over.

I have also prepared a checklist for moving to Belgium with all the essential documents that you should bring with you. You can also download a copy of the spreadsheet for own use.


4. Take Sufficient Photos Together



Do not be surprised that there are some couples out there who do not have a lot of photos taken together. Indeed a problem when you need to submit them as proof of relationship later. Make it a habit of taking wefie at different places whenever both of you meet up.

Another tip is to keep the size of those images minimum. If you take high-res photos for every shot, you might have a problem to submit them by email. There is a 25 MB email file size limit. Even after you zip those files, you may still exceed the limit. Fortunately, I have provided you with another solution of the legal cohabitation visa template if the email file size exceeds.


5. Keep Air tickets, Train Tickets and Hotel Reservation



Keep the useful receipts, invoices or from the past email records. You would need to submit them as proof of relationship later. Air ticket record is one of the best ways to show that both of you are sincere to meet each other on a constant level. The date of the air ticket cannot be fake whereas you can manipulate the dates on the photos. I am revealing to you this dirty little trick to cheat on your photo dates.


6. Partner in Belgium to Have Minimum Income



As last seen on 7 March 2019 update in the Belgian Immigration website, make sure that the Belgian/EU partner has a stable job of at least 12 months with a minimum income of 1,505.78 net/month. It is another crucial factor where many couples failed to apply for the visa successfully.

Contract jobs without a full-time employment will be taken into consideration if the Belgian satisfy the two conditions stated. There are always some solutions for not meeting the criteria of a minimum income requirement as suggested by the Belgian Immigration Office.

So, if you do not read French in the first place or perhaps the Belgian partner is from the Dutch-speaking community, most people would never have discovered these remedies in the first place. Let’s just say that most non-EU citizens applying for a family reunion in Belgium are not French speakers.

Go to Belgium only when your partner has a job. Otherwise, the percentage of a denied cohabitation visa is almost 100%. If going to Belgium is a priority for you regardless whether the partner joined has a job or stable income or not, at least get a sponsor or guarantor from his family to take charge of your stay financially in Belgium.


7. Start Keeping All Message Threads on Your Phone App



If you use a phone app like WhatsApp, do not delete the conversation thread. Start keeping all the messages between you and your partner from day one. You can generate the chat history of WhatsApp into a .txt (text) file later. Then, submit the conversation thread file as a proof of relationship submission.

If you want to change to a new handset later, you can back up the text messages to your cloud storage on your old phone first. Android phone users can use Google Drive. Apple Users can use iCloud Apple. Subsequently, WhatsApp will prompt you to retrieve back the backup messages in your new handset. Click «OK».

If you do not want to back up the old messages on your new phone, alternatively, you can choose to start a new conversation thread. Subsequently, your phone will create another new .txt file. Later, repeat the same procedure to convert the second file into another .txt format and so on.


8. Visit the Town Hall At Least Once



When you are visiting your partner just for a holiday in Belgium, make it a point to go to Stadhuis if you have a chance. Get some information about legal cohabitation visa requirement and procedure even if you have nothing to ask.

The idea is to make them take your passport and key inside their system as a record. It may help you in the future when both of you declare a legal cohabitation. Besides, I reaped such advantage by chance. Therefore, I would introduce you to a similar benefit. This method is even more relevant when your partner is living in Antwerp.


9. Avoid Applying for Your Cohabitation Visa during Holiday or Festive Seasons



The reason is obvious. Many people go on vacation in July and August which is also the summer holiday. So, there will be fewer people working and processing the application. The duration of the procedure will be even longer. Likewise for December when people take long leaves to celebrate Christmas and New Year too.

Despite that, I applied for my cohabitation visa on 15 July 2016 in Antwerp city. However, I had never experienced any delay in handling my case. In conclusion, The Belgian Immigration Office website also cited the following:

Do not wait until the last moment to apply for a visa. The period in which you receive a decision is longer at certain times (summer, holidays). Therefore, submit your visa application early enough.


Why wait 2 years?


Do you have any other preparation tips to share before applying for the legal cohabitation visa in Belgium?




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.

10 comments

  1. Hello!

    I just had a police interview last day Tuesday. The Police said they conducted interviews because I am applying for legal cohabitation, and I am Illegal for more than 1 year now. After the interview at the same time, I received notice from immigration to leave the country within 30 days. The police officer said I am still allowed to stay as my cohabitation is on the process.

    I really don’t understand the system now. Normally you will get the notice from immigration later after the cohabitation result. My question is, what I will do after my cohabitation is approved or not because I already receive the notice?

    We know each other since Sept 2017 and live together from Feb 2019 till present. As per the Gemeente, the Justice will decide after our interview. We are really stressed now waiting for the result.

    I really hope they will give consideration to our documents. Because the country needs more experience nurses like me. I also mentioned during my interview that I’m doing some volunteering works in Nursing home and Hospital and soon I will get the result the recognition of my Nursing Diploma.

    • Hi Sandar,

      Sorry to hear about your situation. Usually, when there is a pending case of cohabitation, the applicant should not leave a country. There are cases where people wrote to me mentioning that their cohabitation was not approved because they had overstayed.

      My good friend had stayed in Belgium illegally for 5 years before she married a Belgian here. Later, her marriage was approved and also got her F card successfully. She was also working illegally in some nursing home as a private caretaker. What I want to say is that some people get it and some people don’t despite their illegal status. I can’t tell you if you will get the approval eventually.

      You probably can also look for a lawyer to discuss your case. If you think you can contribute to Belgium for the Nursing Diploma that you have, You may have more chance to overturn the negative situation as the lawyer will have a way to present your credential in a positive light for you. Nurses are a shortage worldwide and so is in Belgium.

      Maybe you can also contact the Immigration Office or go down personally to discuss your situation and not leave Belgium yet. I can also read that when people are asked to leave the country, it seemed that many did not leave and will find ways and methods to help them in their case to stay in Belgium.

      • I really appreciated your reply. We are planning now to hire a lawyer.

        • Hi Sander,

          Try this website and see if you can get a lawyer to help you. No matter what, I think you should not leave the country yet until the result is concluded. Still, it is better to seek a lawyer to talk to the immigration on your behalf. I sincerely wish you good luck, and please do not be so stressed! There is always a better tomorrow 😀 Be optimistic…

  2. Hi MissSJ,

    I have a different situation and don’t understand how it might affect the cohabitation visa application. My partner is a US citizen and has lived and worked in Belgium for 3 years. He and I have known each other for 30 years, but have been in partner mode on and off for only 3 years. We’ve seen each other for about 25 days over those 3 years.

    Will knowing each other for 30 years allow me to apply for the visa now, rather than wait until we’ve seen each other for the 45-day requirement? Thank you!

    • Hi Karen, in your case, you do not have to abide by the “45 days” rule to apply for a legal cohabitation because you have known your partner for 30 years and in a relationship for at least 2 years. This rule is to prevent people from abusing the system when they know each other for only a few months. The municipal office does not have to know that you have an on-or-off relationship. Do not state that when you apply.

      Yes, you can definitely apply for the visa now. Dig photos taken of the both of you decades ago if you can find to substantiate your claim. If you can also prove that you are meeting regularly in the past when he was still living in the US, that would be even better. In the past 3 years, how do you both maintain your communication? You have to submit those proof of relationship as well. Legal cohabitation is less strict for couples who are non-Belgians as they most likely expect you to leave the country one day.

      If you really want to be with your US partner, do not let too many doubts hinder your plan. Just go for it! If the event that your application fails (which I foresee that it is unlikely for a 30-year relationship), you can reapply and continue staying in Belgium to be with him until you get your residence permit. As both of you are non-EU citizens, it will take 9 months to get approval after you receive your Orange Card. I wish you all the best in your application! 🙂 I wish you all the best in your application! 🙂

  3. Hi, Thanks for your tips. I have a question. I’m about to apply for cohabitation but my girlfriend who is Belgian only started working full-time for Deloitte since October 2018. Well, she earns more than €2,000 a month. Is it advisable to apply now because she has only had the job for two months?

    • Hi Mike, apply when she can produce at least 3-month salary slip. It is highly likely that your application will be rejected. Later, they will ask for 12 months of payslip as an indication of financial stability. Please read my comment to one reader. Although the situation of the person’s boyfriend is jobless, the outcome will be similar to yours. If you can stay in Belgium for more than 3 months without having an Orange Card, then I think you should postpone the family reunion process until your girlfriend has worked continuously for a year. The decision is yours.

  4. Hello! I am wondering if I can ask a few questions. I am so terrible at any sort of legal document thing.

    I have just moved to Brussels earlier this week with my boyfriend. He is an EU citizen and I am an American. We have been together for one year and are looking into applying for a cohabitation visa and an orange card. Is it still possible even though our relationship is only a year long? I am trying to be able to work while we are here and stay longer than three months. Please let me know if you have heard of anyone getting this visa with a relationship shorter than two years.

    All the best,

    Abbi

    • Hi Abbi,

      You can apply for cohabitation visa under a tourist visa within 3 months. After which, an orange card will be issued. You can then stay longer in Belgium and work as your partner is an EU citizen.

      However, it is highly likely that the Belgian Immigration Office will not approve your legal cohabitation application as you do not meet one of the two requirements below. They are very strict on this condition.

      a) Knowing each other for at least 2 years
      b) Have stayed together for at least 1 year (including living in another country)

      The other alternative is to go for marriage in which the requirement of duration does not apply.

      If you are willing to face cohabitation visa rejection and reapply until both of you have hit 2 years of being together, you will get the F-Card (Belgian eID) eventually provided that all other cohabitation requirements are satisfied.

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