Questions about Immigration

What is a professional card?

Each foreign national who wants to perform a self-employed activity in Belgium, requires a professional card.
Some foreigners are exempt from a professional card.

What is a single permit?

An electronic card, combining both the right to reside and to work in Belgium, delivered by the regional administration office and issued by the Foreigner’s office.
Next to the single permit, you might also require visa to travel to Belgium.
Some foreigners are exempt from a single permit.

What is a European Blue Card?

A combined work and residence permit for third-country nationals who work for a Belgian company in a highly-qualified role, have at least a Bachelor degree and meet the minimum salary requirement for European blue card holders.
Belgian immigration law is federal law, not European law. Hence the EBC does not allow you to work in other EU-member states.

What is the difference between a single permit and a professional card?

A single permit is for employees or students etc. whereas the professional card is for self-employed people.

What is the difference between a single permit and a European Blue Card?

To obtain a single permit only one procedure needs to be followed whereas the EBC is to be obtained via different procedures. First the permission to work needs to be applied for at the regional administration. Secondly the visa can be applied for and once in Belgium, the procedure to obtain legal stay needs to be initiated with the Foreigners’ office.

What restrictions are linked to the single permit or professional card

A single permit or professional card is delivered to perform activities for a specific employer or industry. Changes always have to be reported to the authorities.

Who is eligible for the single permit?

A single permit can only be obtained after thorough labour market research (if no other person can be found for the job on the Belgian/EEA labour market) or for some privileged categories of employees.

How can I apply for a professional card?

The application has to be filed at the Belgian Embassy in your home country. Your request will be forwarded to the authorities in Belgium who will assess the request. The actual professional card can be collected upon your arrival in Belgium.

How can I apply for a single permit?

If you come to Belgium to work, your employer (or his mandate holder) needs to apply for your single permit. You must thus first find an employer who is willing to apply for the single permit on your behalf. Generally, the diploma and salary requirements have to be met.
If you come to Belgium to study or be with family members, you can apply for the single permit at the local town hall, after having obtained the correct visa in your home country.

What is the timeline for applying for a first professional card?

The professional card application has to be filed at least 6 months prior to the intended start date of your activities in Belgium.

What is the timeline for applying for a first single permit?

The single permit application has to be filed 4 months prior to the actual start date of the relocation to Belgium.

What is the validity period of a professional card in Belgium?

A professional card is generally delivered for the duration of 2 years (renewable).

What is the validity period of a single permit?

A single permit is delivered for the duration of the project/assignment/contract of employment in Belgium, with a maximum of 12 months (renewable).
In certain circumstances, it is possible to obtain a single permit for a duration of 3 years.

What are the main categories used by companies to transfer staff?

If no employee can be found on the EEA-labour market, the most used category is the highly-skilled worker. However, also trainees and managerial employees are very popular categories.

Are minimum remuneration requirements applicable?

For self-employed persons: No, but you need to be able to proof economical added value in Belgium.
For employees: Yes, depending on your employee status, e.g. highly-qualified, managerial, special technician, international sportsmen, artist, different thresholds apply. Also, each region in Belgium laid down its specific rules as regards the salary thresholds and its yearly indexation.

What is a highly-skilled worker?

Someone who finished studies for at least three years, or holds at least a level 5 educational qualification AND whose remuneration is at least equal to the one imposes by law (around 47,000 € gross per year – indexed every year).

Am I allowed to be in Belgium during the pending immigration applications?

No, unless you hold a specific passport or have another legal basis to stay in Belgium.

Am I allowed to work in Belgium during the pending immigration applications?

Strictly speaking no. The authorities are however working on the implementation of new legislation whereby you can start working when 2 positive decisions have been taken and communicated.

What is the difference between a visa D and visa C?

A type D visa will allow you to travel to Belgium and convert the visa into a long term right of stay, for example a single permit. A visa C gives you only the right to stay in Belgium for a short term period (i.e. maximum 90 days). This type of visa can only in exceptional cases be converted into a long term right of stay.

How can I extend my visa C in Belgium?

A visa C cannot be extended in Belgium unless you have a legal ground to stay for a long term period in Belgium, e.g. work, medical reasons, humanitarian reasons.

Can I work in Belgium on the basis of a business visa?

No, it only allows you to perform limited activities such as attending business or client meetings, fairs and in some regions classroom trainings. In no case on-the-job work! It is mostly used by self-employed people as employees may only perform these activities for a maximum duration of 20 consecutive days, with an absolute maximum of 60 calendar days per year.

Is it possible to apply for an investor visa for Belgium?

No, in Belgium still the principle of an immigration stop is applicable, which means that it is not possible to obtain a Belgian residence card or visa merely on the basis of financial means. EEA-nationals can however legally stay in Belgium on the basis of financial means but non-EEA nationals have to evidence close ties with Belgium.

What if I leave Belgium?

If you leave Belgium permanently, your immigration documents (whether or not expired) have to be returned to the local town hall. If you leave Belgium temporarily, it depends on the length of the departure whether or not you have to surrender your permits.

What if I am working or residing illegally in Belgium?

When working illegally in Belgium you will be deported, and your employer will be penalized with administrative and criminal fines. Also if you initiate the procedure for the registration at the town hall too late, fines can be imposed.

When can I apply for the Belgian nationality?

There are a number of situations in which you become eligible for the Belgian citizenship. Most popular are after having lived and worked in Belgium for 5 years uninterruptedly and you are in possession of a unrestricted right of stay in Belgium OR after having lived in Belgium for 10 years.
You can also apply for the citizenship if your parents have the Belgian nationality, you have a Belgian child or in case you are born in Belgium.

Are language requirements applicable in Belgium?

Some people are obliged to follow an integration course, including language school. Single permit holders are however exempt from this obligation. In view of the application of the Belgian citizenship, language requirements apply.

Do I need to have my degree recognized in Belgium?

Although most Bachelor or Master degrees do not require separate recognition, some professions such as architects, doctors etc. do require recognition.

Can my family members work in Belgium?

If you are a single permit holder and your main reason of stay in Belgium is your work then yes!

Can my parents(in-law) visit me in Belgium?

Yes, but only short-term visits up to 90 days are allowed. Long term visa for family reunification is generally only applicable to spouses and children, although for some countries (e.g. Turkey) family reunification with parents is possible.

What is a registered partnership?

From a Belgian immigration point of view a registered partnership is a form of cohabitation between two people who have made a declaration of legal cohabitation. It is open to (gay or heterosexual) partners as well as to non-partners, such as family members, friends, acquaintances and so on.

Can I train / compete in Belgium as an international athlete?

If you want to train in Belgium as a professional athlete or compete in national sports events, a work and residence permission needs to be obtained.
If you are a paid international athlete, you are allowed to compete and participate in international sports events in Belgium provided that your stay in Belgium does not the duration of the event, with a maximum of 3 months.

Do I need a sponsorship in Belgium before being able to obtain a visa?

In Belgium we don’t really speak of “sponsorship”, although you do need either an employer to obtain a work permission or a relative to sponsor your stay in Belgium.

What is having a domicile in Belgium entail?

Once you have obtained a registration in the Belgian foreigners or citizens register, you have an official address in Belgium and therefore a so-called domicile in Belgium. Without being registered, you cannot speak of domicile. Hence, holding a short-term visa or long term visa without proper registration in the registers in Belgium, is not sufficient in view of having a domicile.

How can I open a bank account in Belgium?

As soon as your registration in Belgium in ongoing, you will be granted a national number. On the basis of this number, the bank can accept your request to open a bank account.
This is not a legal requirement, but a general practice used by the banks in Belgium.