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Working in Belgium


Working in Belgium : As of 24 December 2018, non-EU nationals seeking to work as an employee for more than 90 days in Belgium who do not have a work authorisation exemption must obtain a single permit from the competent Region. 

A single permit request includes both a work authorisation request and a residence request. It is submitted to the competent region via the employer (for fixed duration employment) or by the foreign worker (for indefinite duration employment).

There are several single permit categories in Belgium which are subject to different rules and conditions. The topic has become more complex following the Sixth State Reform. It provides that the Regions, along with the federal authority, have competency over the employment of foreign workers. Applicable regulations thus differ substantially according to the competent Region (Wallonia, Brussels-Capital, Flanders).

The single permit is not applicable to all situations or all workers. A B work permit, the standard requirement before the 2018 reform, continues to be required for certain categories of workers and for employment of less than three months.

Information is readily available on the Internet, in particular via the official Belgian agencies. The request forms for single permits in Belgium and the lists of documents to attach are available for download.

The single permit request must include supporting documents relating to the worker’s employment and residence. In most cases, a standard form is submitted with a work contract, a copy of the worker’s passport and residence permit - if they already reside in Belgium -, a standard medical certificate, a criminal record certificate and proof of payment for the fee and the worker’s medical cover. However, depending on the type of single permit requested, many other documents can be useful or even necessary for a successful attempt to work in Belgium.

It can be difficult to make sense of all of the available information and to match your situation with the authorisation that fits best. How can you know, for example, if you are a national from a country with an international workers’ employment agreement with Belgium?

Ensuring that your work authorisation request file is completed before its submission or seeking assistance with the preparation of your file and the basic documents to attach can provide a genuine advantage and save precious time. Especially if the requested work permit requires an “employment market study” by the administration or demonstrating that you intend to work in an occupation experiencing a labour shortage in Belgium.

The worker's residence and compensation conditions must also be carefully verified.

Particular attention must be paid to applicable deadlines. The Immigration Office and the competent region must take a final decision within 4 months following notification that the  request has been completed. If the request is accepted, or no decision is taken within the allotted time frame, the worker must be provided with a single document confirming their work and residence authorisation.

If the worker is from a third country, not exempted from the Schengen visa requirement and not yet residing in Belgium, they can submit a D visa request to the competent regional diplomatic office before obtaining the single permit.

Last, as Belgium does not automatically grant authorisation for an unlimited duration, a renewal of the limited duration single permit (valid for 1 to 3 years) must be requested. This renewal request is also subject to strict introduction and granting conditions.

Altea offers advice by expert lawyers, adapted to your personal situation.

Contact Céline Verbrouck or Catherine de Bouyalski, specialist lawyers in immigration law and international family law, certified by the Order of Lawyers of the Bar of Brussels.