Belgium is a country that has much to offer and it has a long history of being a cross-cultural center at the heart of Europe. Foreigners from many countries seek various employment or business opportunities here and benefit from the country’s connectivity to other important European countries.
Immigrating to Belgium is a multi-step process that starts with identifying a motive for relocating to the country long-term. This can be for employment purposes, as well as for studying at a Belgian university or reuniting with family as well as marrying a Belgian citizen or resident. The process starts with applying for the right type of Belgium residence permit.
|Entry visa requirement (from EU) (YES/NO)|
Entry visa requirement (outside EU) (YES/NO)
|Yes, with some exceptions applicable to citizens of selected countries travelling to Belgium for short-term purposes.|
|Types of visas available|
| Short-term visas (tourist visits, family visits, business trips, Schengen area transit, etc.)|
Long-term visas (work, investment, study, family reunification)
|Time frame for obtaining work visa (approx.)|
90 days for highly qualified worker applications to 4 months for employed workers.
|Validity of temporary residence permit||1-3 years, depending on the type of permit, renewable|
|Time frame for obtaining permanent residence|
|Investor Visa Availability|
|Time frame for obtaining citizenship||5 years|
|Citizenship/Residency by investment scheme availability||No|
|Tax benefits for expats||Expatriate tax regime for foreign nationals working in the country temporarily.|
The Brussels-Capital Region is the one that offers many of the employment opportunities as it also holds the European Parliament, the European Commission as well as other important headquarters. Administratively, the country is divided into three regions: the Brussels-Capital one, the Flemish region (Flanders) and the Walloon region (Wallonia). Each of these is also subdivided into smaller provinces.
Understanding the country’s profile, mainly its three distinct regions and the trilingual profile, is essential before moving here and our immigration lawyer in Belgium can provide the adequate assistance needed by all foreign nationals who are just starting to understand the country’s profile.
Specialized services offered by our immigration lawyer in Belgium
Moving to a new country is an important step and one that will involve a certain amount of pre-planning and decisions. Pursuing an employment opportunity is often the reason why many foreign nationals choose to move to Belgium, however, family reunification is also an important reason to move to the country, either when one member of the family is already living in the country or when one chooses to marry or legally cohabitate with a Belgian citizen or resident. The latter is a situation in which the foreign national may also be interested in applying for Belgian citizenship.
Our team of immigration lawyers in Belgium offers the following types of services:
- Choosing the right type of visa: there are several types of visas in Belgium intended for short or long-term stay; the needed visa will depend on the motive for the stay, be it for employment, research or study; our team can help guide applicants when choosing the appropriate form; we offer detailed information about each type of Belgium residence permit;
- Visa application assistance: we offer complete assistance during the visa application process; this is a step that takes place with the Belgian embassy or consulate in the applicant’s country of origin, however, we can provide guidance on the needed documents;
- Pre-immigration guidance: our immigration lawyer in Belgium is ready to provide details on all of the steps that are required before arriving in the country that include but are not limited to obtaining the visa; others may also include signing a preliminary property purchase or rental agreement as well as many other arrangements;
- Post-immigration assistance: our team is also ready to provide complete guidance on the steps that are required once an individual arrives in the country and takes up employment; these can include arranging for health insurance, paying social security contributions, and many others.
Irrespective of your reason to relocate to this country, seeking immigration services in Belgium, like those offered by our team, can greatly reduce the amount of time needed to prepare for the move as well as streamline the entire process. You will find that our team is reliable and personalizes the services so that they meet the unique needs of each of our clients. We will help you prepare the documents needed for the Belgium residence permit.
While the reasons to relocate to Belgium may be the same (namely, employment), one’s personal situation may dictate the manner in which the process will unfold. A new employee in Belgium who has a family will need to plan for his or her children and their education as well as establish the main necessities such as accommodation. This is where the assistance offered by our team of immigration lawyers in Belgium can make an important difference.
The video below lists the main steps for moving to Belgium:
Belgium visas according to the purpose of stay
The types of visas in Belgium are issued according to the scope of the visit or stay. Short stay visas (for up to 90 days) are given for:
- tourist visits;
- visits to family and friends;
- business trips or trainee-ships;
- cultural or sport events;
- Schengen area transit.
Long stay visas, known as D type visas are required for stays of more than 90 days and they can be issued for employment in Belgium, for studying in the country or other purposes. New employees in Belgium will need to provide a valid employment contract and students will need to provide proof of registration to a higher education institution in Belgium. New students will also need to provide additional documents, medical certificates and proof that they can sustain themselves in the country during the study period.
If you need help applying for college in Belgium or need assistance for employment in the country, our immigration lawyers in Belgium can provide you with adequate help.
How to apply for a visa in Belgium
Applications for Belgian visas are made to the local consulate or embassy in the foreigner’s country of residence. The application is submitted in person, although certain exceptions can apply. If there is no embassy or consulate of Belgium in the country where you wish to submit an application, you can do so at the embassy responsible for the country (in a neighboring country).
The application form is accompanied by additional relevant documents. Starting with 2015 a new contribution is applicable for long stay D-type visas and it must be paid to the Immigration Office in Belgium.
If you would like to obtain a visa for starting a business in Belgium, our Belgium immigration lawyer can give you more details about the available options.
Working in Belgium
Foreign nationals who wish to move to Belgium will commonly do so for employment purposes. There are many different cases in which EU or non-EU citizens will seek employment with a Belgian employer and part of the country’s attractiveness has to do with the fact that it is well-positioned in Europe and that many European Union institutions, such as the European Parliament, the European Commission or the European Data Protection Supervisor are located in Brussels, and presenting various employment opportunities for international professionals.
For the purpose of immigration, our Belgium immigration lawyer can help both highly qualified workers, as well as third-country nationals who are looking for employment opportunities in the country.
Highly qualified foreign nationals can apply for a suitable position when they hold a higher education degree and have concluded an employment contract for at least 1 year. Another condition for this category of employees is to have a salary that is at least the same as the average gross annual salary. An exemption applies in Flanders, where a reduction of this minimum salary applies in the case of individuals under a certain age or those who will work as nurses. Qualifying foreign nationals can also apply for a Blue Card, however, EU citizens can, in some cases, receive priority. For this purpose, they need to have a valid employment agreement with a Belgian company, valid for at least one year, meet the minimum salary threshold, as well as have sufficient documents that prove their qualifications both in the case of regulated and unregulated professions. Our immigration lawyer in Belgium can detail the conditions for the Blue Card, the minimum salary, and other information. We can help you apply for a Blue Card in Flanders, Wallonia, as well as the Brussels Capital Region.
We also assist third-country nationals looking to work in Belgium. These foreign nationals can, with our help, apply for a work permit for remunerated work or for a professional card that will allow them to engage in a self-employed activity. For most foreign nationals, the rule for employment in Belgium is that they will receive a single permit issued by the Immigration Office which will allow them to remain in the country for more than 90 days. However, young au pairs and workers who are subject to a temporary intra-group transfer can be subject to different rules. Our team can give you more details.
Family reunification in Belgium
For many foreign nationals, moving to Belgium will also mean that they will wish to be accompanied by their spouse, registered partner, child or children, and parents in some cases. The rules can differ in the case of EU and non-EU citizens and our Belgium immigration lawyer can assist you throughout the application process so that you can rest assured that the transition is as smooth as possible for you and your family members.
For the purpose of reunification, a family member is considered a spouse, a partner (of at least 21 years of age), ascendants in the care of the individual already living in Belgium or in the care of their partner, if applicable (the parents), as well as the descendants, or children, under 21 years of age who are in the care of the person already lawfully living in Belgium or under the care of their partner. If you have already moved to Belgium, working with our Belgium immigration lawyer can make it easier to apply and follow the procedures to register your family members with the municipal authority. Family members should come to the municipal authority serving their place of residence no later than 3 months after arriving in the country and they will need to present valid identification documents, a lease agreement, health insurance, documents that will prove the family status, as well as provide recent photographs of themselves. The application for registration will allow the accompanying family member to first be registered in the provisional register, and then in the formal one. The police will perform a check of the residence. All family members will obtain a national number and receive their residence permit in approximately 3 months from registration. After 5 years of residence, accompanying family members can apply for a permanent stay in Belgium.
Spouses are asked to provide the marriage certificate or its equivalent and partners will need to provide a document that proves the legal partnership concluded outside of Belgium or proof that they have known each other for at least 2 years. Having a child together can also be offered as proof of the partnership.
Living in Belgium
Once the decision to relocate to Belgium is final, foreign nationals will need to follow a number of procedures and will need to prepare residence documents in order to be able to remain in the country for long-term purposes or permanently.
Part of the first post-arrival steps is the registration with the municipality. This is mandatory for those who remain in the country long-term (i.e., more than three months) and when they do know that it will apply in their case, individuals are to register/report to the municipality in the area in which they will reside within eight days of their arrival. The person will be entered into the population register, this means that he or she will have a residence in the said municipality. This means that within the time before you arrive and the time you register you need to have an effective residence in the respective area.
Our team of Belgium immigration agents can assist those who wish to take care of these matters as fast and as effectively as possible.
Another important aspect of living in Belgium is related to taxes. All individuals domiciled in the country are subject to personal income tax and this applies to professional income, income from real estate, that derived from capital and movable property as well as miscellaneous income. While some foreign nationals will be employed in Belgium, others will prefer to open their business right away or after some time. Understanding the tax aspects is a key issue in order to make sure that one observes all of the rules in force and avoids any penalties as a result of noncompliance.
Social security for health and disability purposes is compulsory. Legal residents can join a mutual insurance fund as per their choice. Our team can give you additional details on this matter if you decide to immigrate to Belgium.
Individuals who are Belgians who have decided to return to their home country also need to follow a number of steps. Like in the case of foreign nationals, eight working days after they arrive they will need to submit the application to be included in the population register in the area where they have decided they will take up their main residence. The new municipality with which the registration takes place will communicate the current data to the old municipality where the returning Belgian was based before his or her departure (in those cases in which there has been a change of municipality upon return). In the case of returning Belgians, once they are registered, they will commence the procedures for obtaining a new identity card. If you are in this particular situation of a Belgian national who is returning home, our team can provide more details on the exact process.
Foreign nationals living in Belgium are required to provide updated information whenever they change their address. The change is also reported to the municipality within the same period of eight working days. The individual who changes the address can identify itself through personal data and the national register number.
Our immigration lawyer in Belgium can help you with information about address changes, identity card changes and municipality control.
Services for Belgian citizenship applications
For many foreign nationals who move to Belgium, the goal is to remain in the country permanently. This also means that at a certain point, after having spent a minimum number of years in the country, one can apply for citizenship through naturalization. This is one of the ways in which a foreign national can become a Belgian citizen, along with the marriage option or the citizenship by birth, for those who are born to Belgian parents.
Our team describes below the primary conditions for obtaining citizenship by naturalization, as this is a common option for those who decide to immigrate to Belgium:
- have the status of a permanent resident – be registered in the population register;
- live in the country continuously for at least five years (short-term leaves are permitted);
- provide knowledge of one of the national languages;
- offer evidence as to social integration as well as participation to the economic life (derive income, either as an employee or as a business owner in most cases).
There is no requirement in Belgium to renounce another nationality. Foreign nationals who obtain Belgian nationality can also remain nationals of other countries, as applicable in their case.
Our Belgium immigration lawyer can help those interested in the naturalization procedure, in acquiring Belgian citizenship on a voluntary basis after having lived in the country long enough. We can help you prepare the files that are submitted to the authorities.
Reasons to immigrate to Belgium
What are the main reasons why Belgium is an attractive country? We list the top ones below:
- Multiculturalism: Belgium is a country with three official languages (French, German and Dutch) where both European nationals, as well as people from all around the world, make up for a diverse population profile; many foreign nationals will choose to apply for Belgian citizenship after the permitted period;
- Employment opportunities: because it is located at the heart of Europe and it is also the seat of many important EU institutions, Belgium offers employment opportunities in diplomacy, healthcare, retail, transport, import and export, and in a number of other areas; our immigration lawyer in Belgium can give you details about the employment laws;
- Connectivity: the country is well connected to its neighboring countries as well as other European states and on an international level;
- Services: living in Belgium has many benefits and one that is worth mentioning is the quality of the available healthcare services; the education services are also an important point to consider for foreign nationals who are immigrating to Belgium with their children.
These are just some of the reasons that make Belgium an attractive country for relocation purposes. What’s more, investors or entrepreneurs who are considering moving their business can also benefit from the country’s location as well as several incentives for companies. If you wish to immigrate to Belgium and also relocate your company here, our team can assist you.
According to Statbel, the country’s statistical office, the country’s population is on a growing trend, as follows:
- at the beginning of 2019 the resident population consisted of 11,431,406 individuals;
- the annual population growth rate is of 55,336 persons (a 0.49% growth rate);
- the national population growth is driven both by a positive natural balance (more births) and a positive migration balance with more immigrants that migrants: 50,180 immigrants in 2018.
Irrespective of the reason why you choose to move to Belgium, you should know that seeking professional immigration services would allow you to rest assured that you comply with all of the current rules and regulations applicable to foreign nationals. Our team can help you obtain a residence permit as well as apply for Belgian citizenship, when the time comes.
Contact us for more information on how to immigrate to Belgium, helped by our specialized lawyers.