single permit in belgium: final steps and important information for employers

HR Solutions
09 August 2018

by Lieven Goossens and Hannelore Durieu

Single permit in Belgium: final steps and important information for employers

Almost five years after the deadline for implementation (December, 25 2013), Belgian authorities are finally in the process of finalizing legislation in order to introduce a single application procedure that will allow non-EU nationals to obtain a single permit to live and work in Belgium. Even though this legislation will come in to force no earlier than October 2018, some important areas of concern for employers have already arisen.

Single permit in Belgium: final steps and important information for employers

Current situation

In accordance with the current legislation, an employer is first required to obtain a work permit (and often an employment permit) to employ a non-EU national in Belgium. Once this procedure is finalized and the work permit has been obtained, a second procedure to obtain a visa (a visa D in case of an employee) has to be initiated by the employee. Only when both documents (work permit and visa) have been issued, the employee is allowed to enter Belgium and start his employment activities. However, once the employee has arrived in Belgium, the employee will have to apply for a Belgian residency permit in their commune of residence as well.

Said procedures may take up to 10 to 12 weeks, and remain complicated as each specific procedure will have to be complied with in order to employ a non-EU national in Belgium. Therefore, the aim of the new legislation is to simplify the process for applicants, who will only need to submit one application to obtain a dual work and residence permit.  

Future application procedure

A new application procedure for non-EU nationals that want to work and live in Belgium for more than 90 days will be implemented in the near future. For non-EU nationals that want to work and live in Belgium for only a short-term employment of maximum 90 days, the current dual application procedures will continue to apply.

The application for the single permit will have to be filed with the Regional Migration Authorities. The Migration Authority will check whether the application is complete and/or admissible within 15 days following the filing of the application. Within 4 months following the decision of the Migration Authority, the application will be investigated by the Regional Migration authorities (regarding the permission to work in Belgium) and the Federal Foreign Affairs Service (regarding the permission to reside in Belgium). Both authorities take an independent decision based on their investigation. In case both decisions are positive, the Foreign Affairs Service will issue the single permit to the employee and/or employer. In case one or both decisions are negative, the applicant will be able to appeal against the decision(s).

Important information for employers

The new procedure did not come into force yet, and is expected to come into force no earlier than October 2018. Therefore, the current procedure will continue to apply until the new legislation is finalized and published. However, there are important areas of attention for employers that wish to employ a non-EU national in the future.

Even though the new procedure will simplify the application for the residence and work permit, the new procedure will likely extend the time delay between the application and the start of the employment in Belgium in comparison with the current procedure. This means that an employer will have to prepare and plan the employment of a non-EU national well in advance once the new procedure will come into force.

Moreover, the new procedure will also affect the renewal procedure of work and residency permits. This is very important for non-EU nationals that are currently employed in Belgium with an existing work permit and who wish to continue their employment in Belgium. Their current work and residence permits will continue to exist until the expiration date, but will have to be renewed in accordance with the new procedure in case the legislation has changed at the expiration date. In accordance with the new legislation, renewal applications will have to be filed 2 months (!) before the expiration date (instead of 1 month in accordance with the current procedure). 

Therefore, it is very important for an employer to stay up to date regarding the implementation of the single permit in Belgium. Contact our specialist for more information via contact@vdl.be.