TABLE OF CONTENTS
1. Do not rush into a cohabitation contract
2. Use calendar, journal or diary to track important dates
3. Be over-prepared than under-prepared
4. Take sufficient photos together
5. Keep air tickets, train tickets and hotel reservation
6. Partner in Belgium to have a minimum income
7. Start keeping all the message threads on your phone app
8. Visit the Town Hall at least once when you are in Belgium for holiday
9. Avoid applying for your cohabitation visa during holiday or festive seasons
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 Celibacy, Birth 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.
Do you have any other preparation tips to share before applying for the legal cohabitation visa in Belgium?