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Belgium – Work Permits and Working Legally

Necessity of Work Permits for Expats in Belgium

Working legally in Belgium as an expat often requires obtaining a work permit. These permits, often referred to as “work visas,” are essential for foreign nationals who wish to be employed within the country. Understanding the process and requirements for obtaining a work permit is crucial for expats seeking employment in Belgium.

Who Must Submit the Application?

In Belgium, the responsibility for submitting the work permit application typically falls on the employer. The employer acts as the sponsor and initiates the application process on behalf of the expat employee. Therefore, it is generally the employer’s duty to ensure that the necessary permits are obtained for their foreign workers.

Exemptions from Work Permits

While work permits are typically required for expat workers in Belgium, there may be certain exemptions or simplified processes for specific categories of individuals. Exemptions and eligibility criteria can vary and may depend on the latest immigration policies in Belgium. Some potential exemptions or special categories may include:

  • European Union (EU) and European Economic Area (EEA) Nationals: Citizens of EU and EEA member countries often have more relaxed requirements and may not require a work permit to work in Belgium.
  • Highly Skilled Workers: Belgium offers a “Blue Card” for highly skilled non-EU/EEA nationals, which provides easier access to the labor market.
  • Researchers and Students: Certain categories of expats, such as researchers and students, may have specialized permits for their activities.

It is essential for expats to verify the specific exemptions and eligibility criteria with the relevant Belgian authorities or consult legal experts to ensure compliance with immigration policies.


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Types of Work Permits for Expats in Belgium

Belgium offers several types of work permits and visas to accommodate different categories of expat workers. Some common work permits and visas include:

  1. Single Permit (Type B): The single permit combines the work permit and residence permit into one document and is typically issued for employment lasting over 90 days.
  2. Professional Card: This card is for self-employed individuals and entrepreneurs seeking to establish or operate a business in Belgium.
  3. Blue Card: The Blue Card is for highly skilled non-EU/EEA nationals who wish to work in Belgium. It offers certain advantages, such as quicker access to permanent residence.
  4. Student Work Permit: International students in Belgium may be eligible for a student work permit, allowing them to work part-time during their studies.

The eligibility criteria, application requirements, and the duration of permits can vary depending on the type of work permit or visa. expats should consult the Federal Public Service (FPS) Foreign Affairs website or seek legal advice to determine the most suitable permit for their situation.

Procedure to Apply for a Work Permit in Belgium

The process to apply for a work permit in Belgium typically involves the following steps:

  1. Job Offer: expats seeking employment in Belgium must secure a job offer from a Belgian employer. The job offer is a crucial first step in the process.
  2. Employer Sponsorship: The Belgian employer serves as the sponsor and initiates the work permit application on behalf of the expat employee. The employer submits the required documents to the competent regional authority, which can vary depending on the location of the job.
  3. Application Review: The regional authority reviews the application, including the job offer, employment contract, and supporting documents. The processing time can vary, but it typically takes several weeks.
  4. Medical Examination: expats may be required to undergo a medical examination to ensure they meet health requirements.
  5. Approval and Issuance: Once the application is approved, the regional authority issues the work permit, allowing the expat to work legally in Belgium. If required, the expat can apply for a residence permit.

It is essential for both employers and expat employees to ensure that all required documentation is complete and accurate to avoid delays or rejection of the application. Legal assistance or consultation with immigration experts can be beneficial in navigating the process.

Documents Required for a Work Permit in Belgium

When applying for a work permit in Belgium, expats typically need to provide a set of required documents. While the specific documentation may vary based on the type of permit and individual circumstances, some common documents include:

  • Valid passport with at least six months’ validity
  • Job offer or employment contract from a Belgian employer
  • Educational and professional qualifications and certificates
  • Passport-sized photographs
  • Medical examination reports (if required)

It is crucial to verify the exact document requirements with the relevant regional authority or the Federal Public Service (FPS) Foreign Affairs website to ensure compliance with current regulations.

Costs Involved in Applying for a Work Permit in Belgium

Obtaining a work permit in Belgium may involve various costs, including:

  • Work permit application fees: The fees can vary depending on the type of permit, the duration of the permit, and the applicant’s nationality. It is typically non-refundable.
  • Visa fees: Depending on your nationality, you may be required to pay visa fees in addition to the work permit application fee.
  • Medical examination fees: expats often need to undergo a medical examination, and the associated costs may vary.
  • Police clearance certificate fees: Obtaining a police clearance certificate may incur additional expenses.

It’s essential to budget for these expenses when planning to work in Belgium as an expat. Applicants should check the latest fee schedule with the Federal Public Service (FPS) Foreign Affairs or the Belgian embassy/consulate in their home country for accurate cost information.

Reliable Sources for Information on Working Legally in Belgium

Expats seeking reliable information on working legally in Belgium can refer to the following sources:

  1. Federal Public Service (FPS) Foreign Affairs: The official FPS Foreign Affairs website provides comprehensive information on immigration policies, work permits, and visa categories. It is a valuable resource for both employers and expats.
  2. Belgian Embassies and Consulates: Belgian diplomatic missions in your home country can offer guidance and support in understanding visa requirements and application processes.
  3. Legal and Immigration Experts: Consulting with immigration lawyers or migration experts with expertise in Belgian immigration law can provide personalized assistance throughout the visa application process.

Staying informed about the latest immigration policies and requirements is crucial, as they can change over time. expats should rely on official government sources and seek professional guidance when necessary to navigate the complexities of obtaining a work permit in Belgium.


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