Belgium

 

Who needs a visa?

Holders of an EEA (EU Member States, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway) or Swiss passport do not require a visa to travel to or to stay in, Belgium for a maximum of three months.

Business Visa

Business Visas are issued to visitors travelling to Belgium to attend business meetings, seminars and conferences.

Type of Visa

Business visitors normally apply for the Schengen Type C Visa.

Application Process

All applications will need to be submitted to the appropriate Belgium Consulate in the applicant’s country of residence. In most cases, applications are required to be submitted in person, by the applicant.

Processing time

The processing time for a Schengen Business Visa does vary depending upon the nationality of the applicant.  Visa applications submitted in the UK are generally issued within 2 to 15 working days.

Validity

In most cases, validity will vary depending upon the nationality of the applicant, nature and length of the visit to Belgium.  Visas can be valid for the intended trip only, or for 3, 6 or 12 months.

Work Authorisation

There are a number of different types of work authorisation.

  1. Work Permit type A – which is valid for all salaried professions and all employers, for an unlimited period;
  2. Work Permit type B – which is only valid for one employer for a period of one year;
  3. Work Permit type C – which is valid for a limited period for all salaried professions and employers. This permit must be renewed each year; 

Type of Visa

The most common type of work authorisation is the Work Permit type B.

Application Process

The procedure for obtaining a Work Permit is as follows:

  1. In order to obtain a Work Permit, an official application form, accompanied by the required documents has to be sent to the relevant regional Work Permit Authority in Belgium.
  2. After approval has been granted, the original Work Permit will be sent to the local authority, in the district where the employer is established, which then issues the Work Permit.
  3. Once the employee has received their Work Permit, they may then apply for the Entry Visa or D type Visa, in their country of residence.
  4. Once the Visa has been approved, the employee may then travel to, and begin working, in Belgium. Generally, within 8 days of arrival, the employee must register with the local Town Hall in order to begin proceedings for the Residence Permit Application, Which often takes around 6 months to secure.

Processing time

Processing times for Work Permit type B applications tend to vary from region to region.  However, the average processing time is generally between 3 to 6 weeks.

Validity

The Work Permit type B is generally valid for an initial period of 12 months, and may be renewed annually.

Family

The immigration status of a dependant is reliant on the type of permit, and the status of the principal applicant. Quite often, and particularly in the case of the main applicant being present in Belgium with a Type B Work Permit, the dependant is unable to work. The dependant will need to seek work approval in their own right.

Penalties for Non Compliance

Employer:

Employing a foreign worker who does not have the requisite work authorisation is an offence.  If convicted, the employer may be fined.

Employee:

Foreign workers who do not comply with the immigration laws of Belgium may be fined and possibly imprisoned.

Points to Note

  • The employee must hold at least a Bachelor’s degree.
  • The employee’s annual salary must exceed EUR 38,000.
  • Police Clearance Certificates are required. In the case of US nationals, a FBI clearance can take around 6 weeks to procure.
  • Personal certificates, such as marriage and birth certificates will be required and will need to be legalised and possibly translated.
  • Medical certificates are also required.

The contents of this article are for information purposes only.  The information and opinions expressed in this document do not constitute legal advice and should not be regarded as a substitute for legal advice or a comprehensive statement of law or current practice.  Immigration rules and requirements frequently change without notice.  You should not rely upon the contents of this document but instead should seek appropriate professional and legal advice in the light of your personal circumstances.  No liability is accepted for the opinions contained or for any errors or commissions. Please contact our Global Immigration Team for further information.