Foreign workers with an employment contract must have a work permit, unless they are European Union (EU), European Economic Area (EEA) or Swiss nationals. Applications go through the relevant employment agencies for Flanders, Wallonia or Brussels-Capital regions.
This is a complicated process and companies expanding into a fresh international market such as Belgium find work permits and visas a major issue. Organizing these along with moving staff across the world, or recruiting within the new territory, would require an in-house specialist department. And every new country presents new demands.
Few companies have these resources … or the time. Bradford Jacobs, as a global payroll provider through our Employer of Record (EOR) services and a Professional Employer Organization (PEO), have the resources and the time. We are experts in hiring staff, applying for work visas and ensuring employees meet Belgian work and business visa requirements with the correct documentation.
What types of Work Visas / Permits are there for Belgium?
Initially, workers who need a visa to enter Belgium should obtain it through the Belgian Embassy or Consulate in their country of residence. Conditions on being allowed to work in Belgium depend on three key factors:
- Nationality and country of residence
- Proposed length of stay
- Professional status (employed or self-employed) in Belgium
Generally, employers need to apply for work permits on behalf of their employer. Types of visa are:
- Type-A: Allows work over an unlimited period for any employer. Employees must have lived and worked in Belgium for at least four years on a Type-B permit
- Type-B: This is valid for one year for a single employer and can be renewed by the employer, usually for the same job. If the job changes the employer must apply for a new Type-B visa. The employee may have to return to their home country to re-apply for a residence visa before they can return. Contracts must pay at least €39,802
- Type-C: This is valid for one year for multiple employers, usually for migrant agricultural or domestic workers
- Type-D: Companies employing non-European Economic Area (EEA) nationals for more than 90 days must obtain a Single Permit, including a Type-D visa, before employment begins. The Type-D is a single entry visa requiring registration at the employee’s municipality. The visa is valid only for Belgium but can be used for transit (maximum five days) through one or more Schengen countries
Additionally, the Blue Card scheme was established to attract highly qualified and educated non- EU personnel to Belgium, excluding Denmark and the Republic of Ireland. The Blue Card holders are entitled to:
- The same pay and working conditions as EU citizens
- Bring close family members to live with them
- The prospect of permanent EU residency
What are the requirements to obtain a Belgian Work Permit / Visa?
European Economic Area nationals do not require a work permit to find employment in Belgium but non-EEA members must have a permit, which is usually applied for by their prospective employer.
The Regional Labor Inspectorate is responsible for checking compliance with the laws and regulations governing the employment of foreign nationals.
- Evidence that the employer has applied for a work permit if the employee does not already have one, and the employer must prove that no Belgian or EU citizen was available or qualified for the job
- As the direct employee of a Belgian company
- Employed by a foreign company providing services to a Belgian company. The foreign company cannot be a recruitment agency and must provide a service contract with the application
The above is where the EOR services of Bradford Jacobs can be vital in administering payroll to ensure all tax and social security is paid.
How to apply for a Belgian Work Permit / Visa
Applications for work permits must be made using the forms available from regional employment agencies.
- In Flanders, on www.werk.be
- In Wallonia, via the Regional portal
- In Brussels-Capital Region, via the Regional portal
Documentation required from the employer with the application includes:
- Signed and dated application form
- Authorization for employment of a foreign employee’
- Photocopy of the employer’s ID card
- Signed and dated photocopy of the employment contract
- Registration with the Ministry of Labor as a sponsor
- Documentation required from the employee includes:
- Passport, travel ID documents with copies of all pages
- Work permit
- Proof of accommodation, financial support for stay, proof of health check, certified as having no criminal record
The work permit can usually be collected from the local municipality after four weeks.
How much does a Belgian Work Permit / Visa cost?
Companies employing non-European Economic Area (EEA) nationals in Belgium for longer than 90 days are legally required to obtain a Single Permit, including a Type-D visa, for their employees prior to the start of the employment.
The Belgian Immigration Office charges administrative fees to process a Type-D visa or a residence permit application, paid by the employer. The fee is per person, per application in addition to the €180 paid to consular authorities when submitting the application.
Fees were retroactively increased from June 1 2020:
- €363 when applying to reside for longer than three months for professional purposes
- €207 when applying as a family member of a foreigner authorized to reside in Belgium
- €63 when applying to reside for longer than three months after obtaining long-term residence status in another EU country
- EU citizens and family members are exempt from the fees.
Belgian Work Visa / Permit
European Union nationals are exempt from needing work permits. Employers usually apply for permits (typically the Type-B) on behalf of non-EU nationals, who require the permit before they can apply for a long-stay visa.
The Ministry of Labor must confirm that positions cannot be filled by Belgians, EU citizens or from the unemployment lists before they issue a work permit. The process can take up to 12 weeks, although managerial positions can generally be filled without checks.
This is valid for one year for one employer, after which it can be renewed by the employer, usually for the same job. If the employee changes jobs the new employer must apply for a new Type-B permit, which may involve the worker returning to their home country to re-apply for a residence visa before they can start work. Contracts under a Type-B permit must pay at least €39,802.
Type-A: This allows work for any employer in Belgium for an unlimited period. To qualify the employee must have lived and worked in Belgium for a minimum of four years on a Type-B permit.
Belgian Business Visa
A business visa is for those visiting Belgium for temporary work or business reasons, but does not allow the applicant to take up employment in the country. The required documents for the application are:
- Invitation letter from Belgian companies being visited with dates
- Letter from employer giving permission and reasons for trip
- Bank statements for the previous six months
- Any partnership/proprietorship documents
- Statement whether parent or the host company, or both, will cover expenses and are sponsoring the visit
Belgian Visa for EU Citizens
EU or EEA nationals, regardless of the purpose and/or length of stay, do not require visas but must hold a passport or national ID card valid for the duration of their stay. However, EU or EEA nationals who plan to live in Belgium for an unlimited period must register with the local authorities after three months.
Belgian Visa for U.S. Citizens
U.S. Citizens do not need a visa for up to 90 days for tourism or business reasons. However, their passport must be valid for at least three months beyond the end of their stay. U.S. citizens intending to visit only one EU / Schengen country apply at the embassy or consulate of that country. If planning to visit more than one country, they apply at the embassy or consulate of the main destination for the longest stay.
Belgian Visa for Canadian Citizens
Canadian citizens apply for their visa at the Belgian consulate in Montreal, not to the Belgian embassy in Quebec. Canadians are exempt from Schengen visas for stays of up to 90 days in any 180-day period. Stays of over 90 days will require applying for a visa in Canada, no more than six months prior to the intended visit.
Belgian Visa for Chinese Citizens
Visa applications are processed by the Belgian Embassy in Beijing. Exceptions are Chinese citizens travelling with official and public affairs passports, family members of EU citizens, and “Fast Track” business applications, which will be processed by the consulates in Shanghai and Guangzhou. If the trip is for business, conferences or trade fairs the application must be for a short-term Schengen visa.
Work with Bradford Jacobs’ PEO Services
Bradford Jacobs are a global authority on work migration requirements and are the vital link to solving complex visa, work permit and residency issues involved with recruiting into Belgium. Companies that try to plot their own path through this hazardous area risk making mistakes that will be costly to your business plans and waste valuable time. Belgian authorities apply the rules vigorously with significant penalties for non-compliance. Don’t take the risk. Contact Bradford Jacobs now – we have the answers.