In order to relocate from US to Belgium, American citizens will need to apply for a visa type D that will allow them to stay in the country for more than 90 days. Alternatively, they can seek employment or apply for family reunification, both of which are situations in which a different residence permit will apply. In this article, we outline the main types of visas as well as the general procedure for getting settled in the country and, for those who wish to relocate permanently, applying for Belgian citizenship.
Requesting the correct type of visa from your local Belgian Embassy or Consulate-General is the first step towards moving to Belgium.
Table of Contents
Types of visas in Belgium
Coming to work in Belgium is among the top reasons why American citizens choose to make this change. However, it is not the only one. We briefly state the types of residence permits for those who are interested in relocating from US to Belgium:
- Employment: the first step is to secure an employment contract with a Belgian company; the first document that will be issued will be the work permit, followed by the residence permit.
- Business: a category for self-employed individuals as well as those who are interested in starting a business; the country’s position in Europe guarantees easy access to surrounding markets, an important and strategic decision that can motivate the relocation.
- Study: for US nationals who are interested in studying in Belgium at KU Leuven, the University of Ghent or another University.
- Family reunification: for US citizens who already have a family member living in Belgium lawfully or for spouses who are married to a Belgian citizen; our Belgium immigration lawyer can provide more details about family reunion cases.
|Visa requirement to enter Belgium|
|Types of temporary residence permits for those who relocate from US |
|Employee, self-employed, person of means, student, trainee, family reunification|
Documents for temporary
|Valid travel document, visa application form, passport photos, medical certificate, visa-specific documents (employment agreement, proof of family ties, proof of acceptance to study in Belgium, etc.)|
|Approximate time needed to obtain a temporary stay permit|
|Residence permits for investors in Belgium||No specific residence permit. Investors apply for the Visa D (for temporary residence)|
|Temporary residence permit duration|
Generally 1 year. Can be extended
|Post-arrival registration with the Belgian authorities|
Within 8 working days of arrival, with the population department of the municipality of residence
|US permit holder can bring dependents to Belgium||Yes|
|Facilities for US nationals married to a Belgian citizen||The minimum residency requirement before applying for citizenship is not reduced|
|Minimum lawful stay before applying for permanent residence||5 years|
|Minimum time in the country before applying for citizenship||5 years|
|Naturalization requirements for those who relocate from US to Belgium||Lawful stay in Belgium for at least 5 years, registration with the population register, sufficient knowledge of one of the national languages, proof of social integration and contribution to the country’s economy|
|Dual citizenship||Yes, dual citizenship is available for those who relocate from US to Belgium|
|US pension available in Belgium||Individuals can continue to receive U.S. Social Security Benefits. An agreement between Belgium and the United States is in place for the purpose of social security protection. It is advisable to check the benefits that are covered by the agreement|
|US national taxation in Belgium||Residents pay personal income tax on their worldwide income (with rates between 25% and 50%)|
The US and Belgium have signed a double tax treaty preventing individuals from being taxed twice on the same income
The application for the chosen visa type is submitted in person and the time needed for processing the documents will depend on the reason for the relocation as well as the applicant’s personal situation.
We encourage US nationals to start the process as soon as possible once they have started looking for employment or have decided on another manner in which they will go forward with the relocation. Our team of Belgium immigration agents is ready to answer any questions you might have, starting with those that may concern the incipient stages or issues that arise after you arrive in the country. We also provide full assistance for obtaining the Belgian residence permit.
US nationals who relocate to Belgium need to keep in mind that registration with the municipality in which they will live is mandatory in order to lawfully live in the country. This is performed within approximately 8 days of arrival and it is important to observe these terms. We can provide you with more information on this process.
The naturalization procedure for Belgium immigration
When the relocation from US to Belgium is a permanent one, obtaining Belgian nationality is a natural step after having lawfully lived in the country for a number of years. This is the process called naturalization, through which any foreign national can acquire citizenship. We present the main conditions below:
- be registered: as previously mentioned, registration with the local municipality is mandatory right after arrival and it is also a condition for naturalization;
- legal stay in the country: the applicant is required to have lawfully lived in the country for at least 5 years before submitting the naturalization application; according to the Belgium immigration rules, this is done by renewing the residence permit as needed;
- language skills: US nationals must show that they have sufficient knowledge of one of the three national languages;
- participation: social integration and active participation in the economic life of the community is required for naturalization.
Minors can be granted Belgian nationality if they are less than 5 years old and are born of a Belgian parent who was also both abroad (for example, a Belgian who was born in the United States). Another possibility for the naturalization of children is if they are less than 12 years old and are born in Belgium of parents who have been residing in the country for more than 10 years. If you are interested in relocating from US to Belgium with children, our Belgium immigration lawyer will be able to answer any additional questions.
Our immigration specialists also assist investors. You can reach out to us if you wish to know more about obtaining Belgium citizenship by investment.
According to figures presented by the Brussels Institute for Statistics and Analysis, the number of foreign nationals from the United States of America was the following:
- 3,137 were living in the Brussels-Capital Region;
- 4,124 were living in the Flemish Region;
- 3,532 were in the Walloon Region.
If you are a US national willing to relocate to Belgium you can contact our team of Belgium immigration lawyers for more details on how to obtain a residence permit and, later on, citizenship.