Skip to the content

Belgian immigration update

One Single Permit for long stay and work

After a lengthy preparation process, as of 1 January 2019, the Single Permit Directive EC/2011/98 will finally be implemented in Belgium.

Currently, third country nationals coming to Belgium to work, in general, need to go through a three-step procedure to have the right to work and stay in Belgium. Firstly, through their employer, a Belgian work permit needs to be obtained granting them the right to work in Belgium. As a second step, for third country nationals who do not benefit from a visa waiver, also a visa type D for long stay will be needed. Finally, with the work permit and visa in hand, the individual can come to Belgium and register in their Belgian commune of residence in order to obtain a Belgian residence permit. The residence permit grants them the right to reside in Belgium for the duration of their residence permit and the right to travel freely in the Schengen zone (for a limited period of time). However, should the third country national wish to work and/or reside in other EU Member States, the applicable local permits will have to be obtained as well.

Above procedure, on average, takes 2 to 3 months, from the filing of the work permit application to the granting of the visa. Both combined, allow the employee to come to Belgium and start working. To this processing time needs to be added the time required at the side of the employer and the employee to collect the necessary documents allowing to apply for the work permit and visa.

EC Directive 2011/98 : One permit combining right to work and right to stay

One of the objectives of the Single Permit Directive is to establish a simplified and harmonized procedure which a third country national must follow in order to obtain a combined work and residence permit in an EU Member State. However, a Single Permit obtained in one Member State will not give automatic right to work and/or reside in another Member State. Unless exceptions apply, the applicable local permits of the other Member State(s) generally still will have to be obtained as well.

In order to implement the Single Permit Directive, the Belgian federal authorities, competent for the aspect (long term) stay, and the regional (Walloon, Brussels and Flemish) authorities, competent for the aspect work, agreed on a combined application procedure. This procedure results in the Single Permit : a combined document which certifies the legal stay (for more than 90 days) and  right to work in Belgium for third country nationals.

  • Economic migration for more than 90 days

The Single Permit process specifically applies to employees coming to work and reside in Belgium for a period exceeding 90 days.

For individuals coming to Belgium for work for a period of maximum 90 days, the current procedure remains applicable. The Single Permit process equally does not apply to self-employed workers nor to individuals coming to Belgium for other purposes than work, f.i. in the scope of tourism, studies or family reunification.

  • Single Permit application procedure

The application for the Single Permit has to be submitted with the competent Regional authorities in Belgium and will have to contain both the documents requested by the Regional authorities to grant the right to work as the documents required by the Federal authorities to grant the right to reside. In a first step, the Regional authorities will perform a high-level check whether the application is admissible, both for the residence and work aspects.  Once admitted, the Regional authority will forward the residence-related part of the application file to the Federal authorities (to decide on the resident-related aspect), while the Regional authority will, in parallel, decide on the right to work.

Specific procedures are foreseen should the application file be incomplete or to allow appeal against a negative decision of either the Regional or the Federal authorities.

Once both aspects are positively decided upon, the Federal authorities will communicate this to all involved, including the Belgian consular services in the country of origin of the individual which will grant the individual its long term visa type D.

Finally, visa in hand, the individual can come to Belgium and register in their Belgian commune in order to obtain a Belgian Single Permit, combining right to work and reside. The Single Permit equally allows free travel in the Schengen zone (for limited duration) but does not allow, in general, to work or take up long term residence in another Member State.

Single Permit timeline – first application

Legislation foresees that decision to grant the Single Permit will be taken within maximum 4 months as of the date of acceptance of the application file by the competent Regional authority.

To this processing time equally needs to be added the time required at the side of employer and employee to collect the necessary documents allowing to apply for the Single Permit. It can be expected that this preparation time will be longer compared to the “old” process.  For example : certain documents which are required to obtain the right to reside, such as the certificate of good conduct of the individual, might require several weeks to obtain. KPMG is pleading with the competent Belgian authorities to seek for a flexible solution to overcome this hurdle, such as accepting the application file with the mere proof that the certificate of good conduct is being applied for and allowing time to provide the certificate during the process.

In any case employers should be aware that it is expected, at least in the first half of 2019, that the process to obtain a Single Permit will likely be delayed following the introduction of this new process as all stakeholders, from Federal over Regional and Communal authorities, employers and employees will have to deal with adjusting to the new process and uncertainties which will have to be clarified.

Single Permit validity

For employment in the Brussels and Walloon Regions, the Single Permit will have a maximum validity period of one year, extendable.

When being employed in the Flanders Region, provided that the conditions are met, a Single Permit with a maximum validity period of 3 years can be granted, extendable.

Recently also Brussels Region announced that as from 1 May 2019, provided that the conditions are met, a Single Permit with a maximum validity period of 3 years can be granted, extendable.

For individuals currently employed in Belgium holding a valid work and residence permit, no immediate actions need to be taken. Both documents remain valid. Upon extension of their current work and residence permit, they will obtain the combined Single Permit.

Recommendation

Considering the expected delays in obtaining the Single Permit, employers are recommended to start the process to obtain the Single Permit for third country nationals they seek to employ in Belgium as early as possible.

The Belgian KPMG GMS immigration team will be pleased to assist.

 

 Minimum salary thresholds for 2019

Category

(amounts for 2019)

Brussels  Region

Walloon Region

Flemish Region

Highly-skilled employees

€ 41.739,00

€ 41.739,00

€ 41.868,00

€ 33.495 (< 30 or nurses)

Management personnel

€ 69.637,00

€ 69.637,00

€ 66.989

EU Blue Card

€ 53.971,00

€ 53.971,00

€ 50.242

Trainee

Min. salary (sector)

Min. salary (sector)

Sufficient means of existence

Mid-class

/

/

Min. salary (sector)

 

Connect with us


Ferdy Foubert
Partner

Global Mobility Services
Brussels

Share this

Tags


Related articles