Cohabitation Visa Process and Time Line
Before you arrive in Belgium:
- Review the Cohabitation Visa General Conditions
- If you are NOT a US citizen you may need a visa to enter Belgium (If you are a US citizen, you can enter and remain in Belgium for up to 90 days)
- Get all of your other documents in order
- Try to apply for the Cohabitation Visa in the US if possible
When you arrive in Belgium:
- Report to the town hall of your commune within 8 days of arriving in Belgium. They will issue you a declaration of arrival which entitles you to stay for a maximum of 90 days. If you are staying at a hotel, campsite, or youth hostel you are not required to register with the authorities of that commune. However, you must register with the town hall of the commune that you will be living in as soon as you find more permanent accommodation.(8 days) Read my registration story.
- Your commune will then contact the police to request a visit (1 week)
- You will receive a letter in the mail from the police, with times that you can call and make an appointment for a police officer to visit your residence (1 week)
- Police officer visits your residence and completes a form stating that you both live there. Make sure that both of your names are on the doorbell!(1 week) Read my police visit story.
- The officer sends the form to the town hall of your commune (1 week)
- The commune sends you a letter in the mail with an appointment time for you to go to the town hall again
- Go to your town hall for your appointment. Over a couple of hours you will:
- Resubmit all of your documents
- Sign a declaration of legal cohabitation. This is almost like a marriage in Belgium and very time consuming and costly to break. So as our officer said,
Don’t have any fights until you leave Belgium.This will allow you to now apply for residency under the family reunification laws. Read my orange card story.
- The commune will then send your documents to the Immigration Service who will decide whether or not to issue a visa on the basis of cohabitation. Their decision is based on the length and seriousness of your relationship. This can take more than five months. The good news is that at this time you will be given a temporary (orange card), Attestation d’Immatriculation, which allows you to stay in Belgium while the decision is being made (5 months) Read my waiting story.
- Return to your commune on the day that your card expires, or when the commune summons you, which ever occurs first. They if approved they will ask you to submit your orange card, 2 passport photos, and a small fee and provide you with a temporary ID sheet while your Belgian ID card is being processed.
- Within the next 3 weeks the commune should summon you by mail to come and pick up your Belgian ID card. Take the mailed sheet and your temporary ID sheet back to the commune. The mailed summons should tell you where to go to pick up your card, but make sure that you read it because it may be somewhere different than before, as you are no longer considered a foreigner (3 weeks) Read my final steps story.
- Your Belgian ID card will most likely only be valid for 3 months, at which point you will need to return to the commune on the day it expires to pick up a more permanent card (3 months)
The Immigration Service contact information is below:
Federal Public Service Home Affairs in Belgium
Chaussée d’Anvers 59 B
B-1000 Brussels, Belgium
Telephone: +32(0) 2 206 15 99
Fax: +32 (0) 2 206 14 63