Belgium Visas and Work Permits

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Belgium Visas and Work Permits Specialists 

Expanding into a country or hiring a workforce abroad can lead your business to great profits, but unfamiliar laws and regulations can counteract your company’s goals and plans. At Bradford Jacobs, we want to eliminate this complicated part. By using our PEO-service, we can arrange all needed visas and permits including the entire application process without your physical presence.

Belgian visa, residency and permit regulations require expert guidance as they vary according to the country foreign nationals live in – the European Union, the European Economic Area and other foreign nationals are all affected by these complex regulations.

Our team is trained to research the latest information on Belgian visas and work permits - therefore, we created a guide to introduce you to the rules and requirements. By reading this guide you will get familiar with all the requirements so you or your employees can start working in Belgium in no time.

What types of Work Visas and Permits for Belgium are there?

Firstly, citizens of the European Union (EU), the European Economic Area (EEA), or Swiss nationals do not require work permits or visas to enter, stay or work in Belgium for tourist, business purposes or to work in Belgium. However, citizens from new EU members should check in case of restrictions. Also, they must hold a passport or national ID card valid for the duration. EU or EEA nationals who plan to live in Belgium for an unlimited period must register with the local authorities upon arrival for a maximum stay of three months. For longer stays they will need to register for a foreigner’s ID card.

Many other nationalities do require some documentation, so it is always important to check. Generally, citizens whose countries do not have a ‘visa-free’ travel agreement or are not part of the Schengen area will require a visa to enter Belgium.

Main Visa Categories:

  • Schengen Visa or Short Stay C Visa: 90-day visa in any 180-day period for roaming throughout the Schengen area to visit family or for tourism
  • Work Visa D Category: to enter Belgium for more than 90 days (including work)
  • Airport Transit Visa: For Third Country Nationals when passing through Belgium (i.e., not EU, EEA, or Swiss nationals)
  • Business Visa: Required for Third Country Nationals to carry out unpaid business such as meetings, training, contract signing and networking
  • Others: Study, Tourist, Visitors, Medical visas etc.

Workers will need a Work Visa D Category to enter Belgium and should obtain it through the Belgian Embassy or Consulate in their country of residence. This will be attached or stamped in the passport with purpose of visit, length of stay and whether it is a single or multi-entry visa. 

In order to apply for this visa, the applicant needs a work permit, which in turn, requires an employment contract.

Work Permits:

Generally, most employers need to apply for work permits on behalf of their employees. Types of work permits are:

  • Type-A: This allows work for certain employees in Belgium for an unlimited period. To qualify:

    - The employee must have lived and worked in Belgium for an uninterrupted period of four years during a 10-year stay on a Type-B permit
    - These are only available for a particular category of foreign national and are valid indefinitely

  • Type-B: This is the standard work permit for most foreign workers

    - They are valid for one year for one employer and one designated position
    - They can be renewed by the employer
    - This permit is required before applying for the work visa to enter the country, so the employer needs to apply for this permit in advance
    - If the employee changes his job with this employer, the process must start again. The employer must apply for a new Type-B permit, which may involve the worker returning to their home country to re-apply for a work visa before they can re-enter Belgium for their employment
    - Contracts under a Type-B permit must have a minimum salary
    - Employers must also prove they have permission to employ a foreign worker and that the job cannot be filled by a Belgian or EU national

  • Type-C: This is valid for one year for multiple employers and is usually issued to migrant agricultural or domestic workers

  • Blue Card Scheme: Established to attract highly qualified and educated individuals from outside the European Union to work in the EU, excluding Denmark, Republic of Ireland and the United Kingdom. The Blue Card entitles holders to:

    - The same pay and working conditions as EU citizens although there is a minimum salary to qualify, as set by the Belgian government
    -The right to bring close family members to live with them
    - The prospect of permanent EU residency

  • Professional Card: Individuals who are self-employed or plan to start a business in Belgium must apply for a Professional Card, which functions as their work permit. The card can be applied for at the same time as their visa from an Embassy in their home country.

  • Single Permit: In 2019, Belgium introduced the EU Single Permit Directive for non-EU citizens wanting to work for more than 90 days. The Single Permit merges the work and residence permits into one document issued through a single application procedure. To qualify for a single permit, you must have:

    - A job offer from a registered Belgian company
    - Three years’ education to university degree level or executive level position
    - Be on a Belgian payroll
    - Meet the minimum salary conditions

The application process can take between two and four months.

How to obtain a Belgium Work Visa / Work Permit

First, citizens from the European Union (EU), the European Economic Area (EEA) and Swiss nationals do not require a Work Visa or Work Permit to live, visit or find employment in Belgium. However, there may be restrictions on new members to the EU.

Generally Non-EU/EEA citizens (Third Country Nationals) require a Work Visa-D Category and Work Permit Type B which for those requiring a residence permit, is called the Single Permit.

The process for Non-EEA / EU nationals to work in Belgium:

  • A job offer followed by an employment contract is required.
  • A medical certificate (no older than three months) may be required, especially if this is the first time working in Belgium.
  • Then the employer will need to apply for the Work Permit and Authorization which will allow him to employ a Third Country National.
  • The job/position itself has to have been advertised to Belgian nationals and EU citizens (a labor market test*) as part of the work permit process.
  • The work permit approval will be sent to the employee in his home country.
  • The employee can now apply for a residence/work/entry visa at his local Belgian Embassy or Consulate.
  • Upon receipt of the visa, the employee can enter Belgium.
  • Employee registers his arrival and long-term stay (more than 90 days) with the City Office (Leuven Stadskantoor) where a national registration number (rijsregisternummer) is issued. This is needed for local government departments, the tax office, health insurance etc.
  • The process starts for the ID Card, and when this is collected, work can begin in Belgium.

* Some employees, such as the highly qualified, researchers or technical experts, where there is an occupation shortage, can obtain a work permit bypassing the labor market test.

How to apply for Work Visa / Work Permit in Belgium

Applications for Work (or Single) Permits Type B must be made using the forms available from regional employment agencies. The Single permit is both the Work Permit and the Residence Permit. 

Once approved, this allows the employee to apply for a visa to enter Belgium. Applications should be made well in advance. Check the regional website for issuing timeframes. Here are the three regions where application forms and information are available:

Documentation required from the employer with the application generally includes:

  • Signed and dated application form for Permit (for more than 90 days). In some cases, this may also have to be signed by the employee. Employer needs to be legally resident in Belgium
  • ‘Authorization for employment of a foreign employee’
  • Photocopy of the employer’s ID card
  • Signed and dated photocopy of the employment contract. Salary should meet the minimum for category of foreign worker
  • Registration with the Ministry of Labor as a sponsor
  • Proof the job was advertised to Belgian and EU Nationals, unless the position was on the occupation shortages list

Note: To be able to sponsor a Work Permit for a Third Country National, the company needs to be incorporated and registered in Belgium. If not, then you will need the expertise of an Employer of Record such as Bradford Jacobs who can hire workers and sponsor work permits.

Documentation required from the employee includes:

  • Passport, travel ID documents with copies of all pages
  • Medical Certificate (no older than three months) giving clean bill of health
  • Proof of accommodation, and financial stability for stay
  • Certified as having no criminal record by police

Generally, employers are notified by email and a copy should be sent to the employee so he can apply for his Visa to enter Belgium where he will then register for a national ID number and receive a foreigner’s ID card and residence card.

Documents required for the Work/Residence Visa to enter Belgium should be presented to the Belgian Embassy or Consulate in their country of residence. Some nationals may need more and some less:

  • Signed, completed, and printed application form either in English, German, Dutch or French
  • Two recent identical passport photos (issued within three months)
  • Passport with at least three months' validity before travel with blank pages for visa stamps
  • Photocopies of pages of passport
  • Cover letter re purpose of visit to Belgium
  • Return airline ticket
  • Travel insurance covering Belgium
  • Medical certificate of health
  • Accommodation booked for duration of stay
  • Proof of residency in country where application was made
  • Proof of funds available for duration of stay
  • Proof of Work Permit
  • Proof of payment of fees for visa

How much does a Belgian Work 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, which includes the Work Permit and Residence Permit for their employees, prior to the start of the employment. The Belgian Immigration Office requires an administrative fee to cover the cost of processing a Type-D visa and residence application, which may be paid by the company. The fee is per person, per application in addition to the €180 paid to consular authorities when submitting the application.

D- Visa Fees were increased as of June 1, 2021:

  • To reside for longer than three months for professional purposes - €366 (US$432)
  • A family member of a foreigner authorized to reside in Belgium - €209 (US$247)
  • To reside for longer than three months after obtaining long-term residence status in another EU country - €63 (US$74)

EU citizens and family members are exempt from the fees.

Belgian Work Visa / Permit

European Union, European Economic Area (EEA) or Swiss nationals are exempt from needing work permits. Non-EEA nationals, however, provide visas and work permits in order to work and live in Belgium. The most popular work permits can be seen below:

Type B Category Work Permit: Employers usually apply for Work Permits /Single Permits on behalf of non-EU nationals, who require the approval 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.

Type A Category Work Permit: 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.

Blue Card scheme: Established to attract highly qualified and educated individuals from outside the European Union to work in the EU, excluding Denmark, Republic of Ireland and the United Kingdom. The Blue Card entitles holders to:

  • The same pay and working conditions as EU citizens, although there is a minimum salary to qualify, as set by the Belgian government
  • The right to bring close family members to live with them
  • The prospect of permanent EU residency

There is an overwhelming amount of bureaucracy surrounding visa, work, and residence permit applications for most countries. Bradford Jacobs with 20 years of experience in the global marketplace ensures your employees are onboarded with the correct documentation to avoid complications and delays that could prove costly and waste time. Trust us to get it right.

Business Visa Belgium

A business visa is for those visiting Belgium for business reasons but does not allow the applicant to take up employment in the country. There are 61 visa- exempt countries not requiring a Business Visa to participate in business matters e.g., meetings, signing contracts, conferences, networking.

Those applying should do so in plenty of time, a minimum of 15 days before travelling, at a local Belgian Consulate / Embassy in home country. The required documents for the signed and completed application form 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.
  • Valid Passport
  • Passport photographs x 2
  • Return airline ticket
  • Proof of accommodation during stay
  • Receipt for €80 visa fee

Belgian Visa for EU Citizens

Visas for Belgium are not required by nationals of EU, EEA countries or Switzerland, regardless of the purpose and/or length of stay, but they must hold a passport or national ID card valid for the duration.

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 require a visa when travelling to Belgium for up to 90 days in a 180-day period for tourism or business reasons. However, US nationals are required to hold a US passport valid for at least three months beyond the period of their stay in Belgium.

For longer stays, U.S. citizens intending to visit only one EU / Schengen country apply at the embassy or consulate of that country for the National Visa-D. If they are planning to visit more than one country, they then apply at the embassy or consulate of the main destination for the longest stay.

US Citizens wishing to work in Belgium will require a work permit. The Single permit will include the work and residence permit. An employment contract is also required before entering Belgium.

From 2022, the European Union will bring online the ETIAS visa waiver (European Travel Information and Authorization System) for non-EU nationals who wish to enter the Schengen area, including Belgium.

Belgian Visa for Canadian Citizens

Canadians are exempt from Schengen visas for stays of up to 90 days in any 180-day period. Longer stays requires applying for a visa in Canada and no more than six months prior to the intended visit. Canadian citizens apply for their visa at the Belgian consulate in Montreal, not to the Belgian Embassy in Quebec.

For those wanting to work in Belgium, a work permit will be required as will an employment contract. The Single Permit covers the work and residence permit.

From 2022, the European Union will bring online the ETIAS visa waiver (European Travel Information and Authorization System) for non-EU nationals who wish to enter the Schengen area including Belgium.

Belgian Visa for Chinese Citizens

China is not on the visa-exempt list and is not part of the Schengen area so its citizens will need a tourist visa/Schengen visa to enter Belgium for a 90-day stay in a 180-day period at a cost of €80.

For stays of more than 90 days or to work in Belgium, a D-Visa is required and a work permit. The Single Permit is both the work permit and residence permit.

Visa applications are processed by the Embassy of Belgium in Beijing.

Exceptions for visa applications will be for Chinese citizens travelling with official and public affairs passports, family members of EU citizens, and “Fast Track” business applications – these are 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.

Belgian Visa for UK Citizens

UK Citizens do not require a visa to enter Belgium to visit, for a holiday or for business purposes (not paid employment) for up to 90 days in any 180-day period. A valid passport is required and for longer stays and employment, the national visa and work permit needs to be applied for. There are a number of categories of work permit, so you need to know which to apply for. The UK government site provides comprehensive information for its citizens.

From 2022, the European Union will bring online the ETIAS visa waiver (European Travel Information and Authorization System) for non-EU nationals who wish to enter the Schengen area, including Belgium.

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Expanding into Belgium? You will need a firm grip on work permit and visa compliance if planning to move your staff there. Contact us today for advice and more on our options for global expansion.