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Belgium's Single Permit will bring simplification of work and residence applications from non-EU nationals

Non EU-nationals applying to live and work in Belgium will now only need to make a single application thanks to Belgium's Single Permit. Brussels lawyer Leo Peeters explains.

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Soon, getting a work permit or professional card in Belgium will become much easier for foreign employees or citizens, particularly for those who are non-EU nationals. 

Currently, a foreign employee or foreign national wanting to live and work in Belgium is required to make two applications. First, they need to get a work permit or a professional card and then, separately, they need to apply for a right of residence (residence permit), with the latter process connected to the work permit or professional card. Going forward, this procedure will be merged into a single procedure.

This change is the result of the partial implementation of Directive 2011/98/EU, aka the "Single Permit" directive.

Single permit

The combined permit or the "single permit" is an electronic card which allows a non-EU national to work and to reside in Belgium. This card will be issued to foreign nationals and employees who are from outside the EU and who want to work and reside in Belgium.

One application, one procedure

The single permit is only applicable for employment and residence of more than 90 days (Work permit A and B).

For employment and residence of less than 90 days (Work permit B), the current procedure of two separate applications will still apply. 

Work permit C, which is issued to foreign nationals who already reside in Belgium for reasons other than work (students, foreign nationals who reside in Belgium as a result of family unification, asylum seekers and suchlike) is to be abolished. The single permit does not apply to this category of foreign national since they receive a temporary residence permit which automatically specifies the extent of their access to Belgium's labour market.

The application itself will be submitted to the Regional Migration Authorities who will examine the admissibility and the completeness of the application within 15 days of submission. After this verification, the Regional Migration Authorities and the Immigration Office will examine the application; each of them will have to take a positive decision regarding the application individually.

In the event of a negative decision from one or both competent authorities, the applicant can appeal the decision.

Time frame for implementation

The single permit procedure is expected to come into force in October-November 2018. In the meantime, the current regulations still apply. Work permits that have already been issued will still be valid after the single permit comes into force.

For employers planning to employ non-EU nationals, the single permit brings relief, simplification of the procedures and much saved time!

For advice in Belgium

Contact Leo Peeters at PEETERS LAW.