Citizens from the European Union don’t require work permits to seek employment in Belgium. However, non – EU citizens must obtain a work permit, usually applied for by the potential employer, in order to be entitled legally to work in the country.
Belgian authorities usually require a work permit or another type of evidence to prove the fact that the employer has applied for one on behalf of the employee, before the respective person can apply for a residence permit or for a long – stay visa.
The employer or the company must file a work permit application and before the permit is granted, the employer must prove that no Belgian or EU citizen is able to do the job, which is why specialists are those who qualify.
Applications for artists, au pairs, specialized technicians and trainees require a different processing of the work permit application.
How to apply for a work permit in Belgium
A person can apply for a work permit as a direct employee of a Belgian company or as the employee of a foreign company, which is providing services for a Belgian company. The foreign company must not be a recruitment agency and must produce a service contract as part of the application. In this case, the applications must be in conjunction with a Belgian accountant who administers the payroll of the candidate. This is required in order to ensure that all tax and social security duty is paid.
Those who wish to work as self – employed in Belgium must apply for a Professional Card. The application process in this case can take up to a year, and the work permit must be renewed annually.
Type of work permits in Belgium
There are three types of work permits available in Belgium as following:
C permits are valid for one year, allowing the holder to work for more than just one company. These permits are usually issued to domestic or agricultural workers and are not renewable.
B permits are valid for one employer, for the period of one year, after which the same employer can renew them, usually, for the same job or job classification. If a person changes employers, the new employer must apply for a new B permit. In some cases, it is necessary for employees to return to the home country and re – apply for a residence visa before they can start their new jobs. After a B permit is renewed for four or more times, a person in eligible to apply for an unlimited A permit.
A permits allow persons to work for any employer in Belgium, for an unlimited period of time. These permits are issued for the following applicants: the spouse of an A permit holder, the non – EU spouse of a Belgian national, the non – EU spouse of an EU citizen resident in Belgium and any foreigner with five years of uninterrupted legal residency in Belgium.
Professional Cards are issued for self – employers who wish to work in Belgium. The cards are valid for five years and they are limited to a precise field of expertise.
Self – employers who are non – EU citizens must apply for a professional card in order to work in Belgium. The cards are also available for five years. The documentation needed is the following: passport, medical certificate, police certificate and proof of qualifications in the chosen profession. Depending on the country, some professionals require specific proof that they are already established in their field.
Professional Cards can be renewed and it’s usually a simple process.
Exemptions from work permits
Foreign citizens who are exempt from work permit requirements are citizens from the following categories:
- Citizens of a member state of the European Economic Area and their spouse, their children under the age of 21 who are still dependent on them and relatives in the ascending line who are dependent on them with their spouses.
- The spouse of a Belgian citizen and their children under the age of 21 who are dependent on them, their dependent relatives in the ascending line with their spouses.
- Foreign citizens who obtained a residence permit.
- Foreign citizens admitted for an unlimited period of time in the country.
- Acknowledged refugees in Belgium.
- Students staying legally in Belgium to work during school holidays.
- Students on training courses mandatory for their studies in Belgium.
- Apprentices hired under the terms of an apprenticeship.