3 Tips On Applying To A Partner Visa And “Proving Your Relationship” For Immigration

If you’re immigrating to a new country with a partner, you may find yourself having to prove the legitimacy of your romantic relationship. 

It’s a pretty odd and invasive endeavor, to have to show documentary evidence that you and your significant other are in a real relationship. I went through this when I immigrated to my partner’s home country (the Netherlands) on a partner visa. Per the requirements of the application, I had to provide “extensive detail and documentary evidence” on my relationship and answer deeply personal questions for who knows how many people to review.

It was a daunting task, especially given how vague the request was, to “substantiate the relationship” so that it could be determined legitimate or not.

I’m you’re like me, your first reaction to that may be “what the heck do I do with that?” I was taking stabs in the dark when I started putting this application packet together, grasping at any shred of advice i could find.

These are my tips for anyone going through the same process. Please know that I am not an immigration specialists and I don’t have any formal education on the matter. This is advice I have to share simply having gone through the process myself.  

1. Start from the beginning and keep it chronological

Where did you meet? Do you have pictures of the two of you at the beginning? Do you have handwritten letters or birthday cards? Have you been on a lease together? Do you still have a copy somewhere? 

Another important question to ask yourself as you’re pulling this all together – what are the exact words in the request? My application specifically stated “to illustrate the lasting, exclusive and genuine nature of the relationship.” Keep the exact request in mind. 

Here are the items that I included:

  • Photographs – with captions giving the date and location  
  • Handwritten cards
  • Flights – PDFs of the email confirmations. A passport stamp can also prove that you were traveling together, but an email confirmation shows that you booked and paid for the tickets together
  • Corresponding passport stamps – scans of our passport pages showing that we were exiting and entering countries together
  • Travel documents – bus tickets with both of our names on them
  • Family testaments – a signed statement from the members of our immediate family volunteering to be questioned on the genuine nature of our relationship (exact text I used is below)
    • During her time in the Netherlands, Kayla spent time with all of the members of my immediate family. Their names, relationship, signatures and contact information are below. They are willing to answer any questions regarding our relationship.

Some people I’ve talked to have also exported and submitted their WhatsApp conversations. I hired an immigration attorney from my partner’s home country to review our completed application before we submitted, and he said that we submitted enough evidence to not need to submit our texts so I didn’t include it.

2. Make it idiot proof

My “proof of relationship” ultimately amounted to being 97 pages long – and my partner and I had only been together for a year! There were so many different pieces of evidence, and it was the piece of the application I was most nervous about because it was subjective. There weren’t crystal clear boxes to check to convince whoever was reviewing it that we were legit.

I made the point of each piece of evidence painfully clear by telling them exactly what they were looking at and putting yellow boxes around relevant dates, names, etc. When I had a lengthy document, such as a PDF of an email, I put boxes around each piece of information that I needed them to see.

An example: a string of emails between my boyfriend and our landlord discussing putting me on the apartment lease 

Before the page with the PDF of the emails, I put a page telling them what the emails were: 

I emailed my landlord on 20 February 2018 asking permission to add Kayla onto the lease. The request was approved 21 February 2018. Following is the email communication and a copy of the lease with Kayla included.

I also boxed who the emails were to and from and the dates

Another example: passport stamps 

My partner and I met while we were traveling in Guatemala, and continued to travel south to Peru together before moving to his home country.

We included passport stamps to show that we were together traveling for months, and when we had passport stamps missing I explained the holes:

Not all border crossings in Central America gave entry and exit stamps. Guatemala , El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua signed the Central America-4 Border Control Agreement (CA-4; Spanish: Convenio Centroamericano de libre movilidad) in 2006, establishing free movement across borders. A Canadian woman also traveled with us for a few weeks (Name, identified in photos). She was present for the El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua border crossings and can answer any questions regarding the timeline and accuracy of dates. Best form of contact: email@gmail.com.

Idiot proof.

3. Don’t Wait Until The Last Minute To Submit 

My last piece of advice is to give yourself a few days extra to submit (if you’re on a tight deadline).

My partner is a teacher, and his teaching contract is 1 August – 31 July every year. He needed a one-year contract to be eligible to sponsor me, so we had to get our application in at the very end of July, before 1 August, or it wouldn’t have been considered. We had very little space for error. 

After we had gotten our application back from our attorney and made the changes he suggested, we went online to apply and hit many unexpected hurdles.

Some of the late-game surprises that popped up:

  • All of the forms and the immigration website had been available in English. When we went to apply through the online portal, it was only available in the country’s language. Had my partner not been native, it would’ve been a serious problem.
  • They required documents that they didn’t tell us about ahead of time, and our attorney had also not mentioned. Specifically they required PDFs of my partner’s pay stubs for the last 3 months that we didn’t have on hand, and had to scramble to find.
  • There were file size limitations. My 97-page-long proof of relationship packet was a large file size. They didn’t say anywhere that there would be upload limitations. In the time it took to reduce the file size, our application had timed out and we had to start from the beginning. This happened 7 or 8 times.

The hurdles will be different for every country, but now that I’ve talked to so many people about the visa struggle, I’m pretty sure problems like these are common.

If you’re working on a partner visa application, I hope this can help you feel a little bit better about where to begin! I’m not an expert and an attorney from the country you’re immigrating to will have the best advice, but these are the lessons I learned along the way.

If you’ve been in these shoes before, how did your visa process go? Do you have any additional advice to share?

Posted by:Kayla

<span style="font-weight: 400">Hello, friend! I'm Kayla. I help people shrink their footprint on the Earth and find freedom in owning less. On Writing From Nowhere, I share ideas on living more intentionally and sustainably.  </span>

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