In order to be able to work in Belgium, foreign workers must have a valid work permit. This condition does not apply to nationals of one of the member states of the European Economic Area (i.e. EU member states plus Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein) and for certain categories of workers. These specific clauses for foreign workers also concern the Belgian employers. In order to put to work a foreign worker (unless the latter already has a work permit A), employers will have to apply for an employment authorisation and a work permit B. Such an employment authorisation will enable the worker to apply for a visa.
VisaAll non-EU member state nationals, save the nationals of Iceland, Monaco, Norway, Liechtenstein and Switzerland, intending to exceed a 3 months stay in Belgium will need a visa. They are required to make a prior and express application for and have been issued a particular type of visa: the Schengen Type D Visa. This application will have to be submitted to the Belgian diplomatic or consular authorities of the applicant's place of residence. A foreigner coming to Belgium with the intention of working here will need a travel document (passport) with a validity of at least one year, a recent certificate of good conduct covering the last five years, a medical certificate by an Embassy recognised physician and an employment authorisation. This employment authorisation has to be applied for by a Belgium-based employer and has to be issued together with a work permit B. The application must be submitted in due time in order to enable the Aliens' Office to make the investigations which it deems suitable. Once the visa is issued and the foreigner arrives in Belgium, he or she is to report to the municipal administration of his or her place of destination in Belgium in order to regularise his or her further stay there.
Work permitsA distinction must be made between two types of work permits:
- a work permit A covers all kinds of salaried employment and has an indefinite validity. Only a limited number of applicants qualifies for this type of permit (e.g. applicants having a work permit B and working in Belgium for more than four years, applicants residing legally in Belgium for an uninterrupted period of at least five years, …). If the foreign worker has a work permit A, the employer does not have to apply for an employment authorisation.
- a work permit B is only valid for employment by one employer and has a maximum validity of 12 months. Whenever an employer is issued an employment authorisation, the worker concerned is automatically eligible for a work permit B. It is obvious that the application is to be made by the Belgium-based employer.
Work permit AA work permit A must be applied for by the entitled foreigner himself by means of the model forms that have specially been created for that purpose by the regional employment services i.e.: VDAB in Flanders, BGDA/ORBEM in Brussels and FOREM in Wallonia.
Applications must be submitted to the competent VDAB, ORBEM/BGDA or FOREM offices, covering the applicant's place of residence. An inquiry leaflet is to be joined to the application forms of work permits for workers residing legally in Belgium. This leaflet can be obtained at the regional employment services and it has to be duly completed by the applicant and then returned bearing the visa of the burgomaster of the applicant's municipality of residence. The file is then transferred from the regional employment service to the migration service competent for that particular part of the national territory, which will further handle the file. In the case of a foreign worker that is legally staying in Belgium, the work permit will be issued by the municipal administration of the worker's residence place.
The work permit is issued directly to the worker. In the case of a negative answer, the applicant will be informed by means of a registered letter. He can thereupon, within one month following the day of receipt of the refusal, submit a motivated appeal to the competent regional Minister.
Employment authorisation and work permit BAny Belgium-based employer wishing to put to work a foreign worker must apply for an employment authorisation and a work permit B by means of a model form elaborated for that purpose by the regional employment services, i.e.: VDAB in Flanders, ORBEM/BGDA in Brussels and FOREM in Wallonia. The application must be submitted to the VDAB, ORBEM/BGDA or FOREM desk covering the worker's place of employment. To the application forms must be joined:
- a medical certificate if the worker does not reside legally in this country or if the worker resides less than two years in this country and if he is employed here for the first time;
- an inquiry leaflet if the work permit is applied for on behalf of a worker residing legally in Belgium;
- an employment agreement.
The regional employment service will thereupon transfer the file to the immigration service covering the part of the national territory where the application is to be submitted. An employment authorisation is issued only when, given vocational training or not, there are not enough qualified workers in the Belgian labour market to occupy the employment in a satisfactory way within a reasonable lapse of time. After approval by the competent migration service the employment authorisation is issued to the employer. The foreign worker that is residing legally in this is thereupon entitled to collect his/her work permit at the municipality of residence. If the worker does not reside or not legally reside in this country, the work permit is issued to the employer through the municipality of the employers' residence place or of the enterprise's seat. The employer will then have to hand the work permit to the foreign worker. The employer is informed on the refusal of an employment authorisation by means of a registered letter. He can thereupon, within one month following the receipt of the refusal, submit a motivated appeal to the competent regional Minister.
Renewal of an employment authorisation or of a work permit BA renewal application of an employment authorisation or of a work permit, in view of a further occupation of the same worker at the same employment by the same or an other employer, has to be submitted by the employer one month before the expiration of the validity of the running employment authorisation and work permit B. The foreign worker is not bound to stick to the same employment for which the first work permit was issued, providing he attends or has attended a vocational training or updating training scheme in a training centre recognised by the VDAB, "Bruxelles Formation" or FOREM or by the National Institute for Sickness and Invalidity Insurance.
Additional information- On access, residence and settlement of aliens in Belgium: Federal Public Service Interior Affairs (Home Department) Aliens' Office Antwerpsesteenweg 59B, 1000 Brussels Tel.: 02 206 13 00, fax: 02 206 14 55
- On the conditions for eligibility and visa obligations for aliens: Federal Public Service Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation Karmelietenstraat 15, 1000 Brussels Tel.: 02 501 81 11, fax: 02 501 38 38
- On employment authorisations and work permits A and B: Ministry of the Brussels-Capital Region Economy and Employment Administration Vooruitgangstraat 80 (bus 1), 1030 Brussels Tel.: 02 204 18 85, fax: 02 204 15 25
Ministry of the Walloon Region Employment and Migration Direction Place de la Wallonie 1, 5100 Namur Tel.: 081 33 43 10, fax: 081 33 43 22
Ministerie van de Vlaamse Gemeenschap Departement Economie, Werkgelegenheid, Binnenlandse Aangelegenheden en Landbouw Afdeling Tewerkstelling, Cel Migratie, Arbeidsbemiddeling en Herplaatsingsfonds Markiesstraat 1, 1000 Brussel Tel.: 02 553 44 01, fax: 02 553 43 68
Ministerium der Deutschsprachigen Gemeinschaft Abteilung Ausbildung, Beschaeftigung und Europaeische Programe Gospertstrasse 1-5, 4700 Eupen Tel.: 087 59 63 00, fax: 087 56 95 60