Getting your Orange Card (Attestation d’Immatriculation) in Belgium

A few weeks after the police visit your home, you should receive a letter in the mail from your commune with an appointment date and time. Remember to allow several hours for the appointment and make sure to be on time, otherwise they may put you at the back of the line. In our case, although our appointment was at 11am and we arrived on time, we didn’t speak to anyone for 2 hours after that. The appointment letter just lets you skip ahead of the line to get your number.

During your appointment you will resubmit all of your cohabitation visa application documents and sign an official cohabitation agreement. 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.” The cohabitation agreement will allow the commune to now submit your application for Belgium residency under the family reunification laws. To do this, the commune sends your documents to the Immigration Service who will decide whether or not to issue you 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, so be patient.

The good news is that at your commune appointment you will be given a temporary orange card, (Attestation d’Immatriculation), which allows you to legally remain in Belgium while the decision about your visa is being made. The next step is to return to your commune on the exact day that your orange card expires or earlier, if your commune contacts you again for another appointment. Don’t worry if you don’t hear anything from your commune before your orange card expires, no news is usually good news. Your commune might only contact you if you are missing some parts of the application or if your application has been denied.

The bad news is that you’re technically not supposed to leave Belgium. If you are from the US, once you stay past your 90 day tourist visa, you are not allowed back into Belgium unless you have left for another 90 days. So…while this is not a problem within the Schengen area, because there is no more border control, it may be an issue if you want to re-enter Belgium after a trip to another non-Schengen country, such as the UK or the US. Although I did this several times with my organge card and never had any problems getting back in to Belgium. In theory, you can also request a re-entry permit from the commune before you leave, but I have not heard many success stories from the permit.

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Next post in my journey to get a Cohabitation Visa: Waiting for a Decision on your Belgium Cohabitation Visa Application


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