Belgium: A Land of Waffles, Chocolate and Beer

Immigration

Straddling the area between France, Germany, and the Netherlands, Belgium sees a collection of these three cultures. Belgium is a founding member and home of the capital of the European Union, located in Brussles. Because of this, Brussles is home to many multinational corporations and European institutions.

Before coming to Belgium, you should already have employment before you can apply for a permit to live and work in Belgium. As of January 2018, salary thresholds for highly skilled foreign employees, executive- level personnel, and EU Blue Card holders increased. The 2018 gross annual salary minimums for B permits will be around €40,000 per year for highly skilled employees and €68,000 per year for executive-level personnel. The new salary minimum for EU Blue Cards will be over €52,000 per year. Employers should make sure to follow the new salary requirements for foreign workers in 2018. Applications that don’t meet the salary requirements will be rejected.

EU/EEA and Swiss nationals:

Citizens from the European Union (EU), the European Economic Area (EEA – EU plus Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway) and Switzerland can work freely in Belgium without the need for a Belgian work permit.

Non-EU/EEA/Swiss nationals:

In principle a Belgian work permit is required for any non-EU/EEA/Swiss national coming to work in Belgium. There are exceptions, however, depending on the nature of activities or residence status of the foreigner. For example, scientific researchers or those holding permanent residence permits entitling indefinite stay in Belgium are exempt from requiring a Belgian work permit.

In many cases, the right to a Belgian work permit will also be granted to family members (such as a spouse or child) of successful applicants who are granted Belgian residency.

There are 4 main types of work permits in Belgium depending on your situation.

Belgian work permit A:

Valid for all employers and paid occupations, and is valid indefinitely- meaning you can work for any employer in Belgium for any amount of time- Conditions for this permit are stricter. Usually the employee must apply for this type of permit themselves. To get an A Belgian work permit you must prove that you have worked under a type B Belgian work permit for four years within a 10-year uninterrupted legal stay in Belgium. It takes 3 years to qualify for this type of permit if you’re a national of Algeria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, Morocco, Serbia, Tunisia and Turkey. These periods of three and four year can be reduced by one year if your spouse, registered partner or dependent children are living with you in Belgium.

If you apply for this type of work permit you need to make sure that you have the correct forms and provide copies of your work permit B, pay-slips, and residence permit. You can apply for this at the immigration office in the area.

Work permit B

The B permit is for a specific job for a specific employer for a maximum period of 12 months even if your employment contract is for a longer period of time. You can renew this permit if you still meet the requirements. This type of permit requires employer sponsorship and they must apply for this work permit for you on your behalf. Your employer will need to get this permit before they can employee you.

If it’s your first employment in Belgium you must also submit a medical certificate that is less than 3 months old. Immigration in Belgium aims to make decisions on applications for work visas within 10 days.

Belgian work permit C

A Belgian work permit C is for certain foreign nationals who are staying in Belgium only temporarily, such as students or family members of consular officials, or whose right to stay is not confirmed, such as asylum seekers. It allows holders to take on paid employment in any field and for any job contract type for the validity of their residence permit, providing similar rights of employment as Belgian citizens. The permit is issued for up to one year and can be renewed under certain circumstances.

European Blue Card

The European Blue Card is a combined work and residence permit that allows highly skilled workers from outside the EU to live and work in Belgium for more than three months.

To be employed under the Blue Card Scheme, you must:

  • possess a permanent, or minimum of a year-long, employment contract with a Belgian company;
  • be paid a gross annual salary of at least EUR 52,000;
  • hold a recognized higher education qualification. Your employer must get a temporary employment permit for you and at the same time, you can apply for the long-term visa for the Blue Card either at the Belgian embassy in your home country or, if you are already in Belgium, for the Blue Card via the foreign national’s department of the municipality in which you’re living.

You’ll need to complete an application form for a long-stay visa in Belgium, and supply originals and copies of other documents, which may include:

  • a valid passport/travel ID document;
  • a work permit, proof of registration at an educational institution, marriage/civil partnership or birth certificates (if applicable);
  • proof that you can support yourself during your stay;
  • proof of accommodation;
  • a medical certificate to prove that you don’t have any disease which could endanger public health;
  • a certificate to show you don’t have a criminal record.

In principle, workers may not be employed on 10 statutory public holidays per calendar year, irrespective of the nature of their job, their seniority and the duration of their work. You will also be entitled to either 20 or 24 days off paid, depending on if you work a five or six-day work week respectively. You will also receive a holiday bonus before taking your paid time off. If you are an employee, your employer pays you the holiday bonus directly. It includes the salary normally owed for the holiday period plus a supplement, per month, worked (including sick leave) the previous year, equal to 1/12th of 92 percent of your gross salary for the month during which your holidays commence.

All in all, Belgium is a pretty good place to be considering employment. They take care of their employees and have many protections in place for them as well. If working and living in Belgium and need assistance with immigration, managerial, or payroll services, contact us today at info@got.international and get the ball rolling. We will contact you within 24 hours and see what we can do to get you to Belgium!