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Belgium - Visas

There are many websites offering advice and services related to applying for a visa to Belgium. As some of these appear to be official but levy their own administration charges for using the site, we suggest you only select the Kingdom of Belgium’s official site and the Immigration Office’s official site even though the latter in particular is very basic by modern website standards. These can be found below.

Kingdom of Belgium
Immigration Office

Belgium is a member of the European Economic Area (EEA). Anyone who is a citizen of any of the Schengen Agreement countries (European Economic Area countries, plus Iceland, Norway, Switzerland, Monaco, San Marino, and Vatican City) may visit, live in and work in Belgium; although the host country does have a right to refuse entry should they have concern about illegal activity, it is rarely enforced. A passport, valid for a minimum of 30 days, will be required to enter the country, and identity documentation must be carried at all times regardless of the purpose of your presence in Belgium.

If you are a citizen of a country which is not a signatory of the Schengen Agreement, then the length and reasons for your stay will determine which visa you need to apply for.

Visa C is for those from outside the Schengen area wanting to visit for under 3 months to:

• visit family and friends
• stay as a tourist for less than three months
• travel for professional reasons
• attend short term training
• attend a cultural, sporting or other event

As part of the Visa C application process you need to:

• Apply at least three months before travel
• Fully complete and sign an Application Form in respect of each individual to travel, which can be downloaded for free. It should ideally be completed in French, Dutch or German, or in English
• Append a photograph meeting Belgian passport rules
• Your travel document, ideally a passport, which must be valid for a further three months after you are due to leave the Schengen countries (including Belgium) and must contain at least 2 blank pages
• Documents supporting the purpose of your journey, such as proof of family ties to the host or letter of invitation showing the dates and purpose of your visit
• If you are to be a paid intern, a document must have been obtained and given to you by the business you are to work for, showing they have consulted the regional authorities
• Documents confirming your arranged accommodation for the stay
• Documents confirming you have sufficient personal means of subsistence for your stay and for transit to a third country
• Information confirming that the centre of your interests will be retained in your country of origin or country of habitual residence, to confirm your intention to leave the Schengen states before expiry of your visa.
• Evidence that you have obtained suitable health insurance (the consulate can advise on the insurance companies whose contracts are acceptable) of not less than €30,000, valid across the whole territory and stay.
• Applicants intending to make multiple visits must provide evidence of the need for this
• Pay a non refundable handling fee of €180
• Pay any additional charges required for additional services
• Make an appointment with the Belgian consulate for the country you are legally residing in
• Attend the appointment, bringing all requested documents
• Agree to biometric data being taken at the appointment
• Attend additional interviews if required
• If your application is admissible, a stamp will normally be added to your travel document
• If the visa is approved, it will be issued in the form of a sticker which is applied directly to your travel document by the consulate
• You will only be allowed to access Belgium if you have received a visa from the Belgian consulate, and only for the allowed timescale before the visa expires
• If you are not staying in accommodation subject to the legislation on the control of travellers (such as a hotel), then within 3 days of your arrival you must register at the municipal administration in the locality you are staying in. You will be issued with Annex 3, the arrival declaration, which will include the date by which you must have left the country.

If you want to stay in Belgium for more than 3 months, you must apply for the correct D visa permit according to the reasons for your move. This must be obtained in advance of entering the country, and it is recommended to start the application visit at least three months before the date of intended travel.

Work Permit A - for salaried professionals. Unlimited duration. Intended for foreign workers who have lived in Belgium legally and uninterrupted for ten years, with at least four years working under Work Permit B.

Work Permit B - for employment with a single employer only; the employer must have received authorisation to employ the foreign worker. Limited to 12 months.

Work Permit C - for foreign nationals who are authorised to remain in Belgium for a limited time or on an insecure basis, such as being a student or an asylum seeker, who have permission to work for a limited time.

The Professional Card is for those from outside the Schengen area wanting to work as a self employed person in Belgium for more than 3 months.

Students wanting to attend a public or private higher education establishment.

An au pair aged between 18 and 25 who has received education at least until the age of 17, who has not previously worked in Belgium, and who will be attending a course at an approved institution. The au pair must receive at least €450 per month from the host family, whose eldest child must be no older than 13 years of age, and must receive one full day of rest each week.

Applicants for these permits will make applications to their local municipal administration if they are legally living in Belgium, whilst those who have yet to enter the country should make applications for a D visa through the local Belgian consulate.

The documents required will include

• Existing work permits or documentation confirming lawful residency
• A medical certificate
• A certificate confirming a clean criminal record
• All documents which are not in French, Dutch or German must be translated by a sworn translator
• In addition to the non refundable handling fee of €180 charged for all visa applications, there is an additional charge called the contribution for Long Stay Category D Visas

Once someone given leave to stay has resided in Belgium for more than 12 months, they may be joined by their spouse as long as both parties are more than 21 years of age and are linked together by a registered partnership equivalent to a marriage. The 12 month wait does not apply if the marriage predates the move to Belgium, or if the couple have a child together.

Citizens of the EEA who have the right to stay in Belgium for more than 3 months, with the exception of students, may bring non-EEA parents and grandparents to Belgium. The identity of all the individuals must be established, the relatives must present no danger to the public order, and the EEA citizen will be responsible for the financial maintenance of their immigrant relatives.

In common with other countries, criminals provide false work offers to individuals who wish to gain a visa for entry into Belgium, in exchange for large sums of money. Never accept an approach from anyone offering this service in any form, even if they present themselves as an official company or organisation. It may be a scam to cheat you of your money, or in the event the criminals do assist your visa application then you will have committed a serious criminal offense.

If you are found to be living in Belgium illegally, you will be subject to a ‘return decision’. This normally requires you to leave the country voluntarily between one to four weeks after the date of the decision. If you are perceived to be a threat to public order and safety, your application to stay was based on false information, or you are perceived as a flight risk, then you may be removed immediately and these circumstances may be used to justify a period of imprisonment while arrangements for removal are made.

Read more about this country

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