Cohabitation in Belgium:
One word for you who’s about to do this: PATIENCE!
Bureaucracy is always a bitch, but this one has been eating up my Zen reserves. It sucks, it’s a time waster, it’s nerve-wrecking, it kills your plans and laughs at your face and did I mention it sucks?
Well, I’m hoping it’s all for a higher purpose and that there are some lessons here to be learned – even if it’s just being Zen and positive or that we really love each other and want to be together.
I don’t mean to scare or worry you. I’m just a little frustrated but I’m sure everything will be in order when the time is right.
So, long story short: we started our process in February, had my request for residency denied in August and now we’re filing an appeal (we’ve hired a lawyer) and applying for the Visa one more time. Meanwhile I couldn’t have a job or study.
When we started we didn’t know much about this Visa (the guy at the town hall knew even less) and we couldn’t find clear + complete information. Many e-mails, websites and talks with people who had gone through the same process later, we knew more or less what to do.
Below I’ll tell you what we did. It may vary from town to town but I hope it will help.
1. Declaration of arrival
When arriving in Belgium you must go to the commune within 8 days (the Immigration Office website say 3) and declare your arrival and address.
2. Residence check
A local cop will pay you a visit within 2 weeks and check that you really live at the address provided. (Tip: contact your neighborhood agent. In our case, after 2 weeks he hadn’t received an order from the town hall yet.)
3. Declaration of legal cohabitation
The cop will sign a declaration and with that in hands you can go to the commune again to sign a contract of cohabitation.
4. Visa/ Family reunion residence request
After you request the Visa, an “orange card” will be issued. It’s a temporary ID valid for 6 months while you wait for the response from Immigration. That card doesn’t grant you the rights to work nor re-enter the country in case you travel abroad. It only means you can legally stay in Belgium while your process in pending.
Proof of durable and stable relationship *:
*To apply for residence based on cohabitation, you must know each other for at least two years, havemet in 3 different occasions with a total of 45 days, or have lived together for one year. Every document presented as proof must be dated and verifiable.*
Our request was denied because we couldn’t prove that we knew each other for 2 years. All the rest was in order. I hate to think about that and all the waiting for the upcoming months but on the other hand I’m glad we have the chance to try it again.
**What I am sharing here is based on my experience and what I’ve read and been told. I’m not an expert on the subject.**
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