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What do I need before leaving?

BE BELGIUM
Are you a non-EU citizen wishing to work as a highly-skilled employee in Belgium? You can find information below on the conditions to fulfil and procedures to follow, as well as the rights you can enjoy during your stay.


Before you are authorised to carry out a professional activity as a highly-skilled worker in Belgium, you must obtain:

  • a type B work permit; and
  • a long-stay visa (type D visa).
A highly-skilled worker is one who has completed higher education and who is earning a gross annual salary of at least EUR 40,124 gross per year (2017). The amount of the minimum remuneration is indexed every year.

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Work permit

Visa and residence permit
Work permit
Where and how to apply

As a highly-skilled worker, you can obtain a work permit without the need for prior labour market analysis.

The application must be submitted by your employer. Depending on whether your employer is located in Flanders, Wallonia or Brussels, the application must be submitted to the competent authority. in Flanders, Wallonia or Brussels

Flanders: The application file must be submitted to the Department of Economic Migration (DEM) in the province where the employment will take place. The files can be sent either through the post or handed in directly at the offices of the DEM. For applications for employment authorization and work permits, the appropriate forms must be used (application form, employment contract, medical certificate, information sheet etc.). You can download these forms or obtain them from the Department of Economic Migration in your province.

Wallonia: Employers must submit a request for authorisation to employ workers. The completed and signed original form, together with its annexes, must be sent to the Directorate of Employment and Work Permits. If the application meets the legal criteria, the employment authorisation is sent to the employer and the type-B work permit to the municipal administration in the place of work.

Brussels Capital Region: Employers must submit a request for authorisation to employ workers. The completed and signed original form, together with its annexes, must be sent to Brussels Economy and Employment - Direction de la Migration économique. An employment permit is issued together with a type-B work permit to the foreign national, who can then apply for a visa to enter Belgium.

Duration of validity of the permit

Employment authorisations and work permits B may in principle be granted in general for a maximum period of 12 months, and - subject to fulfilment of the conditions stipulated - they may be extended without limitation by 12 months on each occasion. However, in respect of employment authorisations and work permits B for highly skilled workers the legislation has provided for a specific duration of employment of up to two periods of four years. Hence, no more than 8 consecutive employment authorisations and work permits B of 12 months for employment as a highly skilled worker will be granted.

The first period of 4 years: after the initial grant of an employment permit and work permit B as a highly skilled worker for a maximum duration of 12 months a further three renewals each of 12 months may be granted (within this initial period of four years) so long as all the conditions (such as those with regard to the minimum wage) are met.

The second period of 4 years: the competent regional authorities may make the extension of the permits after the initial period of four years dependent on the compliance by the employer with specific conditions in his staffing policy. If the Regional authority wishes to make use of this possibility, it must state this to the employer when the first employment permit is granted. At this time no Regional authority is making use of this possibility.

Hence, 8 consecutive employment authorisations and work permits, each of 12 months, can be granted at the present time for employment as a highly skilled worker.

The application for renewal must be filed one month prior to expiry of the existing work permit.

Duration in practice: however, the restriction on duration up to a maximum of 8 years for most of these workers after the passage of time would be pointless. After a few years (partly depending on their personal family and/or work situation) they can - in application of the Federal and European directives on the subject - be granted unlimited residence in Belgium by the Immigration Office. In such a case, the Immigration Office will instruct the municipal administration concerned to lift the restrictions still remaining on their residence. From that time onwards, the relevant foreign nationals will no longer have to obtain new work permits, since they will meet the conditions of one of the categories listed in Article 2, 3° (b) of the Royal Decree of 9/6/99 by which they will automatically be exempted from the obligation to obtain work permits.
Appeals

In case of refusal of a work permit, it is possible to appeal against the decision before the competent regional Ministry within one month of notification of the decision to you or your employer.

If necessary, a further appeal can be brought before the Council of State within 60 days of notification of the first decision of refusal.

Further information

A job as a highly skilled worker with work permit B cannot be taken into account in order to obtain a work permit A.

Highly-qualified workers who meet certain specific conditions may be employed under the European blue card scheme. This card is issued on the basis of three criteria: the worker's qualification level, the salary and the duration of the employment contract. Note however that the blue card is not valid for certain categories of person who are nationals of third countries and are highly qualified (e.g. seconded workers, long-term residents, researchers, persons under temporary protection and asylum-seekers). . More information is available the websites of the Flemish Region and the Brussels Capital Region.

More on employing non-EU workers

You can find more information on the websites of the competent Regional authorities:

Flemish Region: http://www.werk.be/en/information-services/work-permits/work-permit-b/specific-wage-criteria/highly-qualified-staff
Brussels Capital Region: http://werk-economie-emploi.brussels/en_US/foreign-employee-or-self-employed
Walloon Region: http://emploi.wallonie.be/en/home/travailleurs-etrangers/permis-de-travail.htmlGerman speaking Community: http://www.dglive.be


Once the work permit has been issued, you have to apply for a residence permit.

Visa and residence permit
Where and how to apply

From abroad, you should submit your application for a type D visa to the embassy and consulate in your country of origin or residence. If you are legally staying in Belgium, you can ask (with your work permit) a residence permit in the municipal authorities of your place of residence.

Documents required

You must present a valid passport. You will also need a medical certificate and a declaration of good character.

If you are affected by an illness that is a danger to public health, or if you represent a threat to public order and national security, you will be refused authorisation to reside in Belgium.

Further requirements

Upon arrival in Belgium, you have eight working days to contact the municipal authorities of your place of residence in order to obtain an Electronic Foreigner Card type A.

Duration of validity of permit

The period of validity of the residence permit (Electronic Foreigner Card type A) is equal to that of the work permit plus one month. The maximum duration is one year, renewable.

Appeals

If your application for a visa is refused, you can appeal against the decisions before the Council for Alien Law Litigation within 30 days of notification of the decision.

Further information

More on visas

More on your visa application file

More on identity and residence documents in Belgium


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