What work permit do you need?
Find out what kind of work permit you need with our short overview of possibilities:
When do you need a work permit?
If you’re a NOT from the European Union (EU), Switzerland or the European Economic Area (EEA – EU plus Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway), you’ll need a work permit. This is the general rule of thumb, because of course, there are exceptions. For example: if you’ve got family members who are granted Belgian residency, you won’t be needing a work permit. Another exceptions could be if you came to Belgium as a scientific researcher or if you have a permanent residence permit that entitles you to an indefinite stay in Belgium.
What kind of work permit do you need?
There are three types of work permits you can apply for or you can apply for a European Blue card:
- Work Permit A: for those who already worked on work permit B
- Work Permit B: a work permit that you can’t apply for yourself, your employer will have to do so
- Work Permit C: for those that came to Belgium to study, to join family residing here, to seek asylum…
- European Blue Card: to work in a highly-qualified job
Since the regulations around these permits often change, we chose to make a summary of the most important things you should know. For more specific and up to date information please click on the links we added with each topic.
Work Permit A is granted to those who, during a period of ten years immediately preceding the application, can prove that they have worked for four years with a Work Permit B and during a legal and uninterrupted stay in the country.
This period may be reduced to three years for the nationals of those countries with which Belgium has entered into international treaties or agreements on the employment of workers.
These periods of four years and three years can again be reduced by one year, if the spouse and/or the children of the employee are residing together with him/her legally in Belgium.
You can apply for this work permit by yourself, learn how here.
The conditions for obtaining an employment permit and work permit B may include:
- On the labor market there should not be any candidates available (possibly with a limited vocational training) who could fill this position in the short term.
- The employment permit may in principle only be granted to employees who are nationals of countries with which Belgium has concluded international agreements on employment.
- The countries with which Belgium has concluded an international agreement on employment are: Algeria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Macedonia, Morocco, Montenegro, Serbia, Tunisia and Turkey. The accession agreements with the new EU Member State of Croatia will also be considered as an international agreement on employment.
- The employment permit will be granted only if the application file includes a prescribed contract of employment for manual workers or clerical staff signed by both the employer and the employee, stating a number of mandatory provisions imposed by the legislator.
- Where a first employment in Belgium is concerned for the candidate employee in question, a recent medical certificate must be appended to the application confirming that the employee is fit for work.
- The employee concerned (for which an application is being submitted) must still be abroad. Where it is apparent that the worker concerned has already come to Belgium with the intention to work here, even before an employer has applied for an employment permit, the application will have to be rejected. This is a concrete consequence of the so-called migration stop. This is the way the legislator aims to prevent foreign nationals simply entering Belgium to find work here. When applications are refused for this reason, it is pointless to appeal against it since even the authorized Regional Minister may not deviate from this regulation.
These terms and conditions (excluding the employment capability) do not apply to applications relating to the employment of employees belonging to one of the special categories (such as the highly-skilled, executives, paid sportsmen etc. …).
Want more information about how your employer can apply? Find out here.
If you have come to Belgium, not in the first place to come here to work, but for other reasons such as to study here, to join your family residing in Belgium, to request asylum here, etc., you can apply for a work permit C. More information can be found here.
Nationals who do not have the nationality of one of the Member States of the European Economic Area (the so-called “third-country nationals”) who want to reside in Belgium to work in a highly qualified job, and who wish to obtain the specific document, the European Blue Card, for that purpose.
Want to start your own business? Then you need to apply for a professional card. You can apply for this card when you’re applying for a Belgian visa.
The information provided above was based on the information found on the official Belgian government website concerning work permits.
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