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Belgium Immigration Information Work Permit


EU nationals don’t require work permits to find employment in Belgium. Non-EU nationals must have a work permit, usually applied for by their potential employer, in order to be legally entitled to work in the country.

In general, a foreign national ("the employee") assigned to work in another country must evidence a degree of proprietary knowledge, specialised skills, or managerial/ executive-level skills that are not readily available in the destination country's domestic labour market.

Following is a summary of the types of work permits/ visas for Belgium, the steps involved in obtaining employment authorisation, and other relevant information for employees going to Belgium on a work assignment.

Note: A foreign national employee may not convert his or her immigration status from Visitor status to Work status within Belgium unless the foreign national's employment assignment will last less than 90 days. The employee may be physically present in Belgium while the work permit application is in process, but may not work until the work permit has been approved.

Types of Work Permits

The principal work permit categories in Belgium are:

Work Permit A

Employer sponsorship is not required for Work Permit A – the foreign national files the application independently. Work Permit A is valid for any salaried employment and has an indefinite validity. However, relatively few foreign nationals qualify for Work Permit A (e.g., foreign nationals who have worked in Belgium for more than four years in a managerial function using Work Permit B, or foreign nationals legally residing in Belgium for at least five years continuously).

Work Permit B

Work Permit B requires employer sponsorship and the sponsoring employer must file the application. Work Permit B is valid only for employment with the sponsoring employer in the job indicated in the application and is valid for 12 months with annual renewals possible. Normally, Work Permit B is issued only when there is a shortage of Belgian workers for the sector or specialisation concerned, unless the foreign national is highly skilled or has management functions.

Work Permit C

Employer sponsorship is not required for Work Permit C – the foreign national files the application independently. Work Permit C is reserved for limited categories of foreign nationals only (e.g., students and candidate refugees awaiting final refugee status approval). Work permit C is valid for any salaried employment and is valid for a period of one year. It is renewable on a yearly basis, but remains valid only as long as the foreign national's Residence Permit remains valid, based on their student or refugee status.

Basic Requirements

According to Belgian immigration laws, a Belgian employer may not employ a foreign national worker, and a foreign national worker may not work in Belgium, without the prior authorisation of the regional Ministry of Labour, unless the foreign national possesses a residence card of unlimited duration, an individual Work Permit A or C, or is locally employed by a registered "Coordination Centre". A Coordination Centre is a specific international company that conducts research and holds a specific tax status. Foreign nationals working as Researchers or Management Personnel pursuant to a local contract at a Coordination Centre are exempt from the normal work permit requirement. Nationals of most EU member countries, as well as their dependants, and a few categories of worker (e.g., journalists, priests, Ph.D. university researchers, etc.) are also exempt from the work permit requirement. However, work-permit exempt foreign nationals that are visa-subject must obtain a Type D visa prior to entering Belgium.

Work Permit B is generally used for Intra-company transfer or secondment assignments. To qualify for a Work Permit B as an intra-company transferee, the foreign national must have at least a university degree (or the equivalent professional experience), and the job must require a highly-skilled individual and pay the minimum annual gross salary for technicians for management personnel (which varies depending on current law).

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