mmigration series | UK, Germany and 5 other countries that offer co-h…

ollowing the Love Is Not Tourism movement, several European Union/Schengen countries (including Switzerland) have once again opened their borders to unmarried partners, although visa requirements have changed to some extent. Here's the latest information:

1. Belgium

KEY REQUIREMENTS

Application for temporary residency on the basis of co-habitation with a Belgian citizen or a foreigner temporarily established in Belgium (Card A or H) or permanently established in Belgium (Card B/C/D/F or F+).

Proof that both partners are at least 21 years old. The minimum age is 18 if both partners can prove that they have already lived together for one year.

Affidavit of celibacy, i.e. proof that you are at present not legally married (an affidavit notarised by a notary public).

Proof that partners have lived together for at least one year prior to application

If the partners have known each other for at least two years, proof that they have had regular contact by phone or (e)mail, that they have met in person at least three times in the past two years, and that those meetings represented a minimum of 45 days.

Supporting documents as proof that there is actual co-habitation, such as: joint financial records, utility bills in both names, mortgage/rental agreement in both names, letters from friends and family, photographs, etc.

Proof that you have a personal or collective travel insurance that covers medical expenses during your first three months in Belgium.

A certified birth certificate (not older than six months) appended with the apostille (two photocopies of this document).

A valid national passport (validity at least 15 months).

In general, for type C/Schengen visa, a return flight ticket is required. However, as an exception for co-habitation, a one-way flight ticket is sufficient for the Belgian authorities. If you have bought/want to buy a one-way flight ticket, contact the airline before departure and check if they will let you board the aircraft.

Documents to be presented by the Belgian partner of the applicant:

Proof that he/she has been officially living in Belgium for more than one year.

The city hall in Belgium might require your original legalised birth certificate upon your registration in Belgium.

A later change to the purpose of the visit is not admissible. A prolongation of the visa is not possible.

2. United Kingdom

In applications from unmarried or same sex-partners, the sponsor is the person the applicant is in a relationship with and with whom they intend to continue living.

The rules allow for a person who is not married nor in a civil partnership to join a partner who is settled in the UK, provided certain conditions are met.

KEY REQUIREMENTS

A non-European Economic Area (EEA) national who is an unmarried/same-sex partner of an EEA national will need to show that they are in a durable relationship with the EEA national.

The applicant’s unmarried or same-sex partner is aged over 18 on the date of the applicant’s arrival in the UK.

In cases where the applicant is within a couple of months of their 18th birthday, and the other party is 18 or over, the ECO has discretion to issue entry clearance but valid only from when the person under 18 has reached their 18th birthday.

Proof of intention to live permanently with the other means an intention to live together, evidenced by a clear commitment from both parties that they will live together permanently in the UK immediately following the outcome of the application in question or as soon as circumstances permit.

Each of the parties in the unmarried or same-sex partnership is required to provide evidence regarding any previous marital or other relationship akin to marriage / civil partnership that they may have had. They should be asked to specify how long ago the previous relationship was terminated, either by divorce / dissolved civil partnership, by separation or by death.

The applicant must provide six pieces of correspondence addressed to him / her and their partner at the same address as evidence that they have been living together during the past two years.

Proof of joint commitments (such as joint bank accounts, investments, rent agreements, mortgage, life insurance policy naming the other partner as beneficiary, etc).

Any official correspondence linking both partners to the same address, for example council tax, utility bills, doctors records.

A foreign national may apply for UK entry clearance as the unmarried / same-sex partner of an accredited diplomat posted to or based in the UK for the duration of the partner’s posting. There will be no need for applicants to satisfy the usual two-year co-habitation condition applied to other unmarried / same-sex partner applications.

3. The Netherlands

In the Netherlands, partners can choose from two different forms of living arrangement that are regulated by law: they can marry or enter into a registered partnership. It is also possible to sign a co-habitation agreement, and of course to live together without signing any formal agreement.

Also, in the Netherlands, when a man and a woman who have concluded a co-habitation agreement have a child, the woman is automatically the lawful mother. The man has to officially acknowledge paternity before he is regarded as the lawful father.

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KEY REQUIREMENTS

A co-habitation agreement is a written agreement settling certain matters relating to living together.

Unmarried partners will need to establish that they are not married to other third parties. A so-called "certificate of unmarried status" from the partner’s home country is required in most cases, and partners should provide a copy of their divorce decree if married in the past.

A Dutch national who has resided and worked in another EU country with their partner can file an application in the Netherlands via EU law. If this is not the case, citizens of the Netherlands will need to sponsor their non-EU partner under the Dutch national scheme (Dutch law), which also applies to non-Dutch sponsors who are not citizens of the EU/EER or Switzerland.

Have a notary draw up an official contract. In some cases, you may need a notarised co-habitation agreement in order to qualify for certain benefits such as partner pension schemes and fringe benefits.

The sponsoring partner will need to establish that he or she has sufficient income to support the non-EU partner financially.

A non-EU partner may be required to pass the Dutch language test before coming to the Netherlands.

If partners live together without any co-habitation agreement, nothing is regulated by law. Even so, living together does have consequences for the rules applied by certain institutions, such as the tax and customs administration.

4. Switzerland

To apply for a Swiss visa for the unmarried partner, the applicant must contact the Swiss representation (Embassy/Consulate) or a visa application office in their respective country.  Submit the application in one of the following ways:

In-person at the Swiss Embassy/Consulate.

Through the mail (if the Embassy/Consulate offer the option).

Through a visa application office, to which the Swiss Embassy has outsourced visa application submissions.

KEY REQUIREMENTS

According to the Swiss Federal Council, you must be able to prove that:

You really are in a serious relationship with a Swiss national/resident.

The relationship has existed for some time.

You and your partner have been in continuous contact.

Proof that you have met in-person at least once before the travel restrictions were imposed. The meeting could have taken place either in Switzerland or another country. Submit copies of your passport showing entry stamps.

In addition to the document submission, you may also have to appear for an interview, where you will have to prove you are in a genuine relationship and that your documents are real.

You cannot enter Switzerland merely for tourism or leisure purposes.

Letter of invitation from your partner. The letter must include your general information, such as name, birthday, address and the nature of your relationship; how long you intend to stay; where you will be accommodated; and details about the host (your partner).

Copy of your partner’s ID and passport or their Swiss residence permit.

Certificate of residence (obtained from the municipality) of your partner.

Confirmation of partnership, signed by both you and your partner.

Documents confirming that the relationship has existed for some time. This can be correspondence through social media, post, email, phone bill, air ticket, pictures together, etc.

5. New Zealand

New Zealand defines partnership as two people of the opposite or same sex, who live together in a genuine and stable relationship in any of the following:

a legal marriage

a civil union

a de facto relationship

KEY REQUIREMENTS

Prove that you and your partner are living together in a genuine and stable relationship.

Living together means sharing the same home as your partner. This does not include:

spending time in each other’s homes while you each maintain your own home;

sharing accommodation while on holiday;

living as flatmates in the same house.

Proof you are aged 18 or over.

Or proof that you have the consent of your parents or guardians if you are aged 16 or 17. Proof that you have met each other before applying for a visa based on your partnership; and are not close relatives.

Evidence of relationship should include:

Birth certificates for any children you and your partner had together

Joint rental agreement or home loan

Joint bank accounts

Evidence you own assets together

Joint credit cards or hire purchase agreements

Joint utilities accounts, like power or phone bills.

Other evidence could include: cards, letters, emails and social media conversations, photos together, or mail addressed to both together at the same place and time.

If the applicant and partner has spent time living apart, provide information about separation, including:

The reasons you were living apart

How long you were living apart

How you kept in touch while you were not living together.

6. Finland

Note that if you and your partner are permanently living in different countries, living together for example during holiday trips is not considered to be sufficient grounds for granting a residence permit.

KEY REQUIREMENTS

Prove that you and your co-habiting partner have lived together for at least two years. Show, for example, your rental agreement as proof of living together.

You and your co-habiting partner have a child in your joint custody. In this case, the requirement of living together for at least two years does not apply. Provide a birth certificate with information on the child's parents (must be legalised if not issued in the Nordic countries or in an EU Member State) and a certificate of joint custody of the child (must be legalised if not issued in the Nordic countries).

Proof that neither you nor your co-habiting partner is married to someone else.

Divorce certificate (if you or your partner has previously been married and have divorced).

Certificate of dissolution of registered partnership

Death certificate (if you or your partner has previously been married/in a registered partnership and the former spouse has died)

Your co-habiting partner has a residence permit in Finland, or both of you are applying for residence permit at the same time.

Form for clarification of family ties PK1_plus (to be filled in and signed by your partner living in Finland).

Form MP_1 (if you already are in Finland and apply for your first residence permit).

Statement of income in Finland: Your partner’s payslips and bank statements from the past six months for all Finnish bank accounts the partner can use; copy of your partner’s latest tax card, tax decision and tax return; copy of your partner’s employment contract.

7. Germany

KEY REQUIREMENTS

Provide documentation that the relationship is long-term. This can be evidence of having met in person in Germany before, or of a previous shared residence.

An invitation from the partner who lives in Germany.

A declaration of the existence of the relationship, signed by both partners.

Proof of previous visits in the form of passport stamps, travel documents or airline tickets.