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Proof of Relationship
Throughout the whole Cohabitation Visa process, you will be asked at least 2 to 3 times to prove your relationship with your partner. Proof of relationship is also required for Fiancé Visas (Type C Visa for Marriage). This is the most time-consuming part of the process (at least for me, since I had to collect & recollect 5 years worth of memories). Providing proof of your relationship is also a very important step in the cohabitation process.
Types of files to prove your relationship:
1.) Table of contents | If you are submitting thousands of pages of documents, make sure it will be easy to navigate and peruse.
2.) Your love story | Create a Word file and write about your relationship. How you met, how you fell in love, how many times you have met in person, how long you have been in a relationship, and any other important details about your relationship.
3.) Timeline of days spent together | Make an overview of all the dates that you were physically together with your partner. Indicate the date, place, and number of days spent together (you can download my template here).
4.) Signed declarations | Ask your and your partner's relatives and friends to make handwritten declarations that they know of your relationship. The signed declarations may include: the person's full name, address, date and place of birth, relationship to you, details concerning how the person has knowledge of your relationship with your parter. Take a photo of the statements with their ID card/passport on top of the handwritten declaration.
5.) Photos with captions | Gather all your photos of you together with your partner. Bonus points for photos with relatives and friends. Indicate the time & place where each photo was taken. I did this by inserting photos in a Word document so I can easily write explanations. Inserting the photos in Word diminishes the resolution of the photos, so I also made a Google Photo album (this is also a good idea so that the metadata is preserved, so the city hall double check when and were the photos were taken).
6.) Letters and postcards | These are any snail mail you and your partner have sent to each other.
7.) Dating site chat log | If you met your partner through a dating site, it's a good idea to also include your chat log to prove your relationship.
8.) Skype log | It is important to show that you have had constant contact with your partner. Video chats on Skype are a good way to prove this. What I did was make (a lot of) screenshots our chat window which showed our texts and calls to each other. Make sure the dates and call durations are visible.
9.) Facebook chats | I downloaded several years worth of chats using the Google Chrome extension, "Messages Saver for Facebook™."
10.) Other Messaging App chats | For example: WhatsApp, WeChat, Viber, etc.
11.) Passport stamps and visas | Scan all the relevant passport stamps from trips you and your partner took together.
12.) Transport & accommodation bookings | Check your e-mail inbox for all the bookings you and your partner have made for trips you've done together.
13.) E-mails to each other
14.) Videos | If you are the type to take videos, now is the time to bring out your creative side and compile your videos to make a compelling case for your relationship!
15.) Blogs, social media accounts | If you have a blog or social media accounts where you mention your relationship with your partner, do add this to your submission.
When I applied for a Type C Cohabitation Visa at the Belgian Embassy in Manila, I submitted 13 kilos worth of papers as proof of our relationship. It took me a month to collect, print, and photocopy all of the proof. I thought that was the end of it, but when I got to Belgium, they asked me 2 more times to send proof of our relationship. Thank goodness the city hall did not require me to submit hard-copies and they let me send it digitally instead.
This is a sample of one of my e-mails to the city hall of Antwerp: