How to obtain an automatic residence permit or long-term resident status in Belgium

Automatic residence permit or Long-term resident status in Belgium

Belgium is a country that always attracts the attention of foreigners, providing opportunities for living and working in the centre of Europe. The possibility of obtaining an automatic residence permit or long-term resident status opens the door to new prospects in this country.

Third-country nationals, i.e. those who are not EU or EEA citizens, can reside and work in Belgium for more than 90 days within a 180-day period after obtaining, inter alia, an automatic residence permit or long-term resident status in Belgium.

This article highlights the important aspects of obtaining these statuses, providing clear information on the procedures and requirements. It reveals the opportunities and benefits they will bring to those who wish to start a new chapter in their lives in Belgium, fulfilling their dreams of living and working in this wonderful country.

Automatic residence permit

The following persons are automatically allowed to reside in Belgium for more than 3 months:

  • a foreigner whose right of residence is recognised by an international treaty or law;
  • a foreigner applying for the restoration of Belgian nationality;
  • a woman who has lost her Belgian nationality by marriage or as a result of her husband’s acquisition of a foreign nationality;
  • an immediate relative of a foreigner who has been granted unlimited residence in Belgium for at least 12 months;
  • a foreigner who is related by a registered partnership to a foreign national who has been granted unlimited residence in Belgium for at least 12 months and the children of this partner (under certain conditions);
  • an unmarried disabled child over 18 years of age of a foreigner who has an unlimited residence permit in the Kingdom; 
  • the father and mother of a foreigner recognised as a refugee or enjoying subsidiary protection, provided that the foreigner is under 18 years of age.

Ways to submit an application

The method of submitting an application depends on the location of the subject of the application, so you can submit an application in this way:

  • Abroad. Third-country nationals must submit their application abroad at their place of residence at a Belgian diplomatic or consular post. The list of Belgian embassies and consulates abroad is published on the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the FPS: www.diplomatie.belgium.be

Important! Upon arrival in Belgium, the local offices of the Department of Federal Migration register the person in the Foreigners’ Register. An application for registration in the register must be submitted by a foreigner within 8 working days after entering the Kingdom.

  • On the territory of Belgium. If a foreigner is legally residing in Belgium, an application for a residence permit is submitted to the territorial office of the Department of Federal Migration at the foreigner’s place of residence.

Long-term resident status in Belgium

Long-term resident status is granted to foreigners who:

  1. are not EU citizens;
  2. meet the conditions set out below;
  3. provide proof of legal and continuous residence in Belgium for 5 years prior to the application;
  4. the granting of the status is not contrary to public policy or national security considerations.

The five-year period referred to above is not interrupted by an absence of less than 6 consecutive months, not exceeding a total of 10 months out of the total 5-year period.

Conditions for granting long-term resident status 

The status may be granted to a foreigner who:

  • is authorised to stay in Belgium for the purpose of studying or training;
  • has a residence permit in Belgium on the basis of temporary protection or has applied for a residence permit on this basis and is awaiting a decision on his/her status;
  • has the right to reside in Belgium on the basis of another form of protection;
  • has filed an application for international protection, which has not yet been finalised;
  • is in the Kingdom for temporary reasons only.

The validity of the residence permit and long-term resident status is unlimited.

A foreigner who has been granted long-term resident status in Belgium loses this status when he or she is granted the same status in another EU member state.

Application procedure and required documents

In cases of automatic residence permit or long-term resident status in Belgium:

1. The application is submitted to the local self-government body at the place of residence. The municipal administration issues a confirmation of receipt of the application.

2. The application must be accompanied by the required documents.

The specific list of documents to be attached to the application depends on the grounds for obtaining a residence permit. 

In any case, the following documents are required:

  • a copy of the passport;
  • two photographs;
  • a medical certificate stating that the foreigner does not suffer from any of the diseases that may pose a threat to public health;
  • an extract from the criminal record (if the foreigner is over 18 years old).

In addition, it may be necessary to provide evidence of stable and sufficient means of subsistence (for example, a certificate of responsibility, in which an individual Belgian citizen undertakes to pay the costs of medical care, accommodation and return of a foreigner for 2 years; a certificate of employment; a salary certificate; bank statements showing the movement of funds for the last 3 months), as well as evidence of housing and health insurance.

If the documents are in a language other than one of the three state languages or English, they must be accompanied by a sworn translation into one of the three state languages or into English.

3. When applying for a residence permit or a visa, a foreigner must submit his or her biometric data – fingerprints and a facial image.

The procedure for processing documents

If the foreigner meets all the conditions, he/she is issued a certificate of receipt of the application. After consideration of the application, if all the conditions are met, the foreigner receives a residence permit. The decision on the application for a permit is made no later than within 9 months from the date of submission of the application.

More detailed information on life, work, education and residence in Belgium for foreigners can be found on the official Belgian government website.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general understanding of the topic and is not intended to be legal advice.


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How to obtain a fixed-term residence permit in Belgium

Belgium as a choice for emigration: positive aspects of obtaining a fixed-term residence permit

Before proceeding to the presentation of the main material on the topic, it would be appropriate to note the positive aspects of obtaining a residence permit in Belgium, which will help you when choosing a country for emigration.

The advantages include the following:

  • location: Belgium is a Western European country bordering France, Germany. Luxembourg, and the Netherlands;
  • three official languages: German, French and Dutch; the majority of the population also speaks English; 
  • relatively affordable prices compared to other European countries;
  • opportunities for access to education;
  • well-developed economy; 
  • decent level of wages, social assistance and pensions;
  • compulsory state health insurance covers a significant range of services;
  • the procedure for obtaining residence permits is clear;
  • it is possible to obtain some public services and information online on the official websites of the authorities;
  • Belgium is a part of the Schengen area, which means free movement across the border by train, car, plane or on foot without passing border checks.

The residence permit, in addition to being an identity document, allows you to:

  • open a Belgian bank account;
  • apply for social assistance;
  • register your car;
  • visit a doctor and receive prescriptions for purchases in pharmacies;
  • file tax returns;
  • sign documents online and confirm your identity online.

Grounds for obtaining a permit

The main grounds for obtaining a fixed-term residence permit are as follows:

  • studying at a Belgian higher education institution (the permit is issued for a period of 4 months, 1 year or 2 years depending on the circumstances of the foreigner);
  • staying in Belgium as a researcher (the validity of the permit is limited to the validity of the work permit as a researcher);
  • staying in Belgium as a trainee (the validity of the permit corresponds to the validity of the work permit as a trainee and is limited to a maximum of 6 months);
  • stay in Belgium for the purpose of employment (residence permit is granted for a limited period of 5 years);
  • staying in Belgium as a temporary intra-group transfer, i.e. a temporary business trip for the purpose of professional activity or training;
  • other grounds provided for in the Aliens Act. 

The procedure for obtaining a fixed-term residence permit

First, a third-country national must apply for a D visa abroad at the place of residence of the third country at a Belgian diplomatic or consular post. The list of Belgian embassies and consulates abroad is published on the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the FPS: www.diplomatie.belgium.be.  

Upon arrival in Belgium, the local offices of the Department of Federal Migration register the person in the Foreigners’ Register. An application for registration in the register must be submitted by a foreigner within 8 working days after entering the Kingdom.

Ultimately, the D visa is converted into a residence permit in accordance with the purpose stated when the visa was granted.

What documents are required for a permit?

The grounds on which a third-country national wishes to obtain a fixed-term residence permit in Belgium determine the list of documents that will be required in his/her particular case. 

The following list of documents is common to all types of fixed-term residence permits in Belgium:

  1. a copy of the passport;
  2. two photographs;
  3. proof of payment of the fee;
  4. proof that the third country national will have sufficient means of subsistence for the duration of the stay (e.g. a certificate of responsibility, in which a Belgian national undertakes to pay the costs of medical care, accommodation and return of the foreigner for 2 years; certificate of employment; salary certificate; bank account statements showing the movement of funds for the last 3 months);
  5. medical insurance;
  6. a medical certificate stating that the third country national does not suffer from any of the diseases that may pose a threat to public health;
  7. an extract from the criminal record (if the foreigner is over 18 years old).

If the documents are in a language other than one of the three official languages or English, they must be accompanied by a sworn translation into one of the three official languages or into English. 

When applying for a residence permit or visa, a foreigner must submit his or her biometric data – fingerprints and a facial image.

Payment for obtaining a permit

The cost of issuing a fixed-term residence permit in Belgium is as follows:

  • Temporary residence (visa D) – €180 (service);
  • Residence permit – €20 (production).
  • For foreigners under the age of 18 – free of charge.

Belgium provides for a number of benefits for certain categories of persons in relation to the payment of the service for obtaining a fixed-term residence permit. For more information about the fee exemptions, please follow the link.

Extension of the permit

A fixed-term residence permit may be extended at the foreigner’s request. To do so, the foreigner must submit an application to the municipal administration of his/her place of residence before the expiry of the fixed-term residence permit.

More detailed information on life, work, education and residence in Belgium for foreigners can be found on the official Belgian government website.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general understanding of the topic and is not intended to be legal advice.


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