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:
- a copy of the passport;
- two photographs;
- proof of payment of the fee;
- 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);
- medical insurance;
- 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;
- 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.