Monday, 3 August 2020

⑳ Cohabitation Visa Denied: What to Do for Rejection? Reapply the Cohabitation Visa, Appeal or Hire a Lawyer?



Course of Action: Cohabitation Visa F Card Rejection

If your application for the Residence Permit F Card is rejected, you will receive a letter from the authority to leave the country within a month. Being refused is very disappointing. Do not be disheartened and brace up. Here are some actions that you can take since the authority would state the ground of visa denial on the letter. You can improve on that the next round. So, what would be the best way to counter the refusal? Below are three methods that you can consider.

To reapply the cohabitation process again, to appeal or to hire a lawyer?

1) Reapply the Cohabitation Process

The rejection letter will state the reason for cohabitation visa denial and the criteria not fulfilled. The couple has to work on the requirement that they could not meet. Go to the commune and make the application all over again.

You have to pay the application fees and buy new insurance. Probably by this time, the foreigner partner could be covered under the Belgian partner’s national health insurance plan to cut down some cost.

Perhaps the foreign partner would like to take the opportunity to go back to the country of origin for visiting the family members before coming back. It is also a good time after being grounded in Belgium for a while.

Points for Consideration

When does the foreign partner want to come back to apply the cohabitation procedure? Is it within six months? I am not sure whether the 90/180 day of the Schengen rule still applies in this scenario since the foreigner has stayed more than 90 days out of 180 days in Belgium.

It is advisable to send an email and check with the Belgian Immigration Office regarding the Schengen rule policy. That is to play safe by ensuring that the foreign partner has no problem entering the Schengen Zone within six months.



2) Appeal against the Decision

An appeal against the decision would be an immediate thought when going through a rejection letter. However, other folks that have gone through this appeal process might not advise this method. The time taken to introduce an appeal would be much longer than for one to reapply for the cohabitation. Usually, the appeal period could be more than a year of waiting.

During the cohabitation appeal period, applicants have to go back to the commune every month to get a stamp on their document. The reminder to go back for the chop every month makes the person even more mentally tortured. It makes one wonder when this process would concretely end. It will not end until the result is out.

There is a high possibility that the result would still be negative by appealing. That is too painful after prolonged waiting and stamping every month. Well, if you believe that you have a strong case and evidence to appeal against the decision for a denied visa, you can check out the Belgian Immigration Office site for more info.

Points for Consideration

Why is an appeal not a favourable decision? The council has taken a decision to reject an application because the couple could not meet certain cohabitation requirement. By appealing, you are telling them that their decision is not correct.

On the other hand, if you have not rectified the problem that occurred and you go ahead to appeal, what would be the success rate? The current file has already a negative record that might manifest the problem further. In this sense, why not reapply the case and make it a fresh start?


3) Hire a Lawyer

The only reason I could think of for hiring a lawyer is when the case is complicated and not straightforward enough. It is not any straightforward case of merely submitting proof of relationship documents or to buy time until the relationship is at least two years old.

If the rejection reason from the authority is clear-cut and the criteria are indeed not met, you do not even need a lawyer! Just solve that problem by fulfilling the exact requirement, and you are on your way to get the family reunion visa on the next application.

Many applications are rejected eventually because they cannot prove a relationship of at least two years or when the Belgian’s partner income is insufficient when applying for a cohabitation visa. Sometimes, the file submission is complete but still denied of the residence permit F Card. That is when one needs an immigration lawyer to help to reduce the stress and to mitigate the problem.

» Case Study

One recent example of hiring a lawyer is a rejection letter received by an applicant in which the authority suspected that the company set up by her Belgian partner is not genuine enough. The company is newly set-up and would not have met either one of the Belgian’s minimum income criteria due to insufficient business transactions for any startup company.

In this scenario, the applicant can delay her second cohabitation visa process until the company of her partner is more stable or at least has been operating for a year to gather enough financial proof for submission.

If they choose to engage a lawyer to speed up the process, the lawyer would be able to advise the corporate documents required to submit to the authority that the company is not bogus and indeed running a real business.

Standing at the position of the Immigration Office, they have every reason to suspect that a company set-up is for the sole purpose of bringing the foreign partner over. If one has a malicious intention and by setting up a company with no real business transaction bringing their ‘foreign partners’ over, this method would be exploited for sham marriages.

Points for Consideration

The first point of consideration is always the cost of hiring a lawyer because it is not cheap. Establish the cause of rejection and whether it is necessary to hire a lawyer. Sometimes, the couple can just solve the problem by themselves using the first two methods discussed above without burning a hole in their pocket by engaging a lawyer. That is to weigh the cost versus the need. You can refer to the website of notaris.be where it provides legal advice on marriage and cohabitation. The first advice given by a civil law notary may be free of charge.




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.

19 comments

  1. Hello MissSJ, I want to ask what we’re going to apply if my cohabitation is approved but I received notice to leave the country? Can I apply an orange card for that?

    • Hi Sander, the Orange Card for the family reunion procedure will automatically be the next in queue after your legal cohabitation is approved. You cannot just apply for Orange Card this way under the family reunification process. The issuance of Orange Card has no relationship if you are going to leave the country or not due to a police/immigration order. It cannot be a tool to grant you a stay if you are ordered to leave Belgium due to overstaying.

  2. Hello Miss SJ, I want to say a big thank you for your good work. Last year August, we started a legal cohabitation process with my girlfriend of 4 years who was using an F card. I am a non-EU. Luckily everything was going well. We went to the interview. The police also came to our apartment without our awareness. But good enough as my girlfriend didn’t go to work that day. Both of us were at home. They took some photos of our living room and inside our bedroom which later they left. In January I received a letter stating that my name has been registered in the population registry. Another attest letter stated that our legal cohabitation had been approved.

    After I received another letter to go to Districtshuis Deurne on the 8th of February which was last week, I was confused about one thing. I was asked to bring the National passport but was not asked to bring a photo passport. I was so devastated to receive a negative reply on our cohabitation and asked to leave Belgium. My world came crumbling before me. I love my girlfriend so much, and we have a child of 2 years together who is legal in Belgium.

    The reason for the negative decision was because I didn’t have a visa in my passport according to the report from the Immigration office. They also told us in the commune on the day of our interview that if my request of legal cohabitation turns negative, I have a right to see a lawyer for the appeal. I also have been living illegally in Belgium for 5 years now.

    What do you suggest I do? Should I go and see an immigration lawyer and what’s the possibility of getting the orange card? I am so confused at this moment. I love my family and would like to work legally in Belgium and take care of my beautiful kid. I will be so glad to hear from you and thanks in advance.

    • Hi Bright Stars, sorry to hear about your situation. I would not be able to help you much for your case as the problem involved overstaying illegally in Belgium. What I strongly suggest is to get a lawyer to help you because you have a child together and better chance to overturn your case if your child is a Belgian. At this point in time, only a lawyer will know the immigration law and help you with the appropriate procedure. The lawyer will also advise you on the time length. Your case can go on for months to years, so you have to be patient in Belgium. I wish you success!

      • Thanks for your reply, Miss SJ. I really appreciate. My child is not yet a Belgian because my spouse is still using the F card and will be due for Nationality next year.

        But my question is: Can one be separated from his child by the police whether illegal or legal?

        How can I be illegal whereas my child is legal in Belgium?

        I am confused because I cannot run away from my home and my child just because I am afraid that maybe something bad might happen to me.

        I want to know my right in this case whether my child is a Belgian or not, at least I have a child who is legal in Belgium.

        Is it in Belgium or European law to deport a father who has a child abroad leaving his child behind. Thanks.

        • Hi Bright Stars, one can be separated from his child when he is under arrest by the police or by a court order such as family violence. For the rest of the questions involving Belgian law and immigration issue, I won’t be able to advise because I am not a lawyer and has not encountered such incident myself. It is best to look for a lawyer to seek help on your case, rather than you feeling worried all the time which will not help to improve the current situation.

          • Thank you so much for your advice Miss SJ. I have already contacted a lawyer. I will let you know how things go further in future. All the best!

            • Hi Bright Stars, I’m so happy for you that you have found a lawyer to assist you with the case and present it in a more positive light. All hopes are not lost. Do update us especially if you have positive news! That will inspire others in the same situation as you too! I wish you success!!! 🙂

    • Hello Bright Star,

      Any update of your document? Did you hire a lawyer? I have the same problem as you. But I got the notice to leave the country at the same time after my police interview. The police told me I’m still protected due to my cohabitation on the process.

  3. Hello Miss SJ, I would like to thank you for creating this blog to help us, who have similar situations we have right now.

    My case: My boyfriend and I met in March 2017. We decided to get married in May 2017 and wanted to do the marriage in September 2017. However, the municipal declined us. We are living in Belgium. We wanted to get married in 6 months time when his past wife died. He has 2 daughters living with him.

    Our problem is the municipal did not accept our marriage request because they said: –

    1. Rapid Course of Business.
    2. They questioned my illegal stay in Europe for 8 years.
    3. The police officer surprisingly visited us. I was not in the house. The kids were not aware of our plan. (We plan to tell them when we got the clearance to start preparing our marriage.)
    4. The kids forgot some things like the name of the restaurant where we first met etc.
    5. So many things make us lose hope as they said it was a marriage for convenience only, and we have a fake relationship. ?

    We got a rejection from the King of Prosecutor of Municipal where my partner lived (Turnhout). He is the judge whom we asked to fight against the negative decisions from the reports of the municipal. The judge also rejected us when we asked for an appeal.

    I’m 38 turning 39 yrs old when we met, and my partner is 42 yrs old now. Do you think we are not old enough to consider to marry even in a short period of time together? I hope you can give us some advice on how we can deal with this. I would really really really appreciate so much if you can help us. Thank you in advance.

    • Hi Berlyn,

      Sorry to hear about your predicament. I have merged your 2 comments together. I am afraid I cannot help you much in your case because it involves the court decision and your immigration status in which their decision is ‘final’. Have you tried to look for an immigration lawyer due to the complexity of your case?

      I have a good friend who stayed in Belgium illegally for 4 to 5 years. She found her love later. She told everything truthfully to the municipal about her illegal stay. Surprisingly, they accepted her story, allowed her to get married and gave her an F card eventually. She was lucky.

      It is not about your age. It is how the municipal see your relationship with your partner in a negative light. First, you lived in Belgium illegally for many years. Then, you get married in a few months’ time after knowing your Dutch partner. These are signs of a marriage out of convenience.

      Now, one year has passed after knowing your partner. Would you be able to present the case to the judge with the help of a lawyer to prove that the relationship is indeed genuine? Supply fresh evidence of how you have committed yourself to this relationship.

      Firstly, you have to make sure you have a chance to appeal or reapply your marriage all over again to the municipal. The lawyer must be able to help you overturn the case. If a marriage request does not work, how about applying for legal cohabitation instead? I sincerely wish you the best of luck.

  4. Hi, I’m having a question. So let’s say, if your visa got expired and you’ve got an F card because, in the meantime, you got in a legal cohabitation, can you end the legal cohabitation if you break up and apply for a new visa and stay in Belgium then? Thanks for your answer.

    • Hi Cel, by the time you get your F-Card, your first visa (tourist visa) would have already expired. Your stay in Belgium is dependent on the legal cohabitation with your partner. Once you break up with him within the first 3 years, you will have to leave Belgium.

      You can live in Belgium without a partner provided you can find a company that can sponsor you a working visa, get a one-year study visa or be an au pair if you are below 26 years old. The suggested options may require you to first apply for a visa from your home country.

  5. Hallo, I have a question. Please tell me. If a non-EU citizen got married in 2009 to a EU citizen and he is a Belgian citizen beginning 2014. If now they are divorced, is it possible that they can take back his citizenship which the boy has from 2014???

    (Till last July, his ID card was written F card, but after the Gemeentehuis changed his ID card, there is nothing written on the card)

    Thank you ))

  6. Hello,

    I would like to get some suggestions. I am Indonesia. I came to Belgium last year October with complete documents to marry my husband. Then we got married this year January at the Gemeentehuis.

    Later, I received my 6-month temporary residence permit. I have submitted all documents. The police check and the report went well too. We are able to prove that we are in a real relationship.

    My husband was self-employed and has his own company. We have fulfilled what the Gemeente were asking. Unfortunately, the Brussels Immigration Office rejected our file because they think my husband’s company wasn’t real enough.

    We can refile, but that means I cannot leave Belgium for another 6 months. Should I hire a lawyer to fix this? Although it’s not cheap, can they change their decision by proving that their statement was wrong?

    Or if I have to refile the application process and then “grounded” inside Belgium again, can I ask to be home first to visit my family? However, I came here with a 90-day tourist visa, so that was long expired. Don’t wanna be blacklisted or have a problem at the airport if they see my tourist visa was long expired.

    Maybe the Belgian Immigration can help me out rather than going through a lawyer? The question is whether it is worth to hire a lawyer to help fix it out? Thus, I don’t need to be a ‘prisoner of the country’ again so to say, if I have to reapply on a 6-month temporary residence.

    • Hi Perlina,

      From what I read about other people’s experiences, hiring a lawyer is paying more for a procedure which you will eventually get a long-term visa after a few rejections. But yes, you will be grounded while you reapply a fresh application each time. Do not appeal. Just reapply.

      I would not tell you yes or no for engaging a lawyer. It depends whether you are willing and you find it worth to pay for the cost or not. The estimated price range would be around 500 to 2000 euro from reading on others’ experience. Personally, if I were in your shoes, I would not engage a lawyer.

      You know the reason of rejection lies with your husband’s company and the lack of trust from the Gemeente. The fact that his business is new, not so active or have an insufficient business activity. Your husband can target to submit more documentary proof in the next application on his sales transaction or any other evidence to prove that his company is real.

      If he has no clue what to do, then a lawyer might be helpful to help sort out this issue to present a stronger case for your next application. Otherwise, he can do it himself by submitting, for instance, an income tax for his business. A lawyer will not change the decision of the authority. You cannot say that the decision was wrong when you do not submit enough convincing business profile of the company.

      If you go home to Indonesia, you must carry the rejection letter with you. If the Customs officers stop you at the airport for overstaying, you can prove that you have applied for a family reunion in Belgium with the letter.

      You have to apply for the tourist visa when you return to Belgium the next time. Also, observe the 90/180 days Schengen rules. You might only be allowed to come into Schengen Area after 6 months. Stay calm and do not be sad. You will get the long-term F Card one day no matter how many times you reapply!

      • Yes, my husband company is new indeed. Well, we don’t want to waste another 6 months for nothing. In the first place, the Gemeente told us confidently that everything should work out after looking at our documents. It proves that the Gemeente has no power over Brussels decision.

        I believe that my tourist visa is active until September 2018 so coming back here later is not a problem. I don’t have to reapply for it. I just need something to show to the immigration why I stayed more than 90 days, so I don’t get blacklisted.

        If I bring the rejection letter, I can go from any airport within the Schengen zone, right? So when I get out, logically, I have to stay there for 3 months minimum before I can get back to Belgium again with my tourist visa which will be still active until June next year.

        • Hi Perlina,

          Gemeente has no power because the Immigration Office takes the decision not them. When you reapply next time, make sure that your submitted documents are up to date (within 6 months).

          You can also bring along documents stating that you have applied for the cohabitation and has stayed for more than 6 months while waiting for a decision. If you have an active visa that has multiple visits until 2018, it is likely that you do not have to observe the 90/180 days rules subject.