The Belgian government recently announced new travel, visa and permit restrictions to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

Key Points:

  • Third-country nationals cannot enter the country if they are traveling from places that are not within the Schengen Area.
  • This restriction does not apply to the following: visa D holders, long-term residents such as single permit holders, foreigners performing essential work such as medical care or research and foreigners with urgent travel needs because of important family situations.
  • These restrictions also apply at internal borders to reduce intra-Schengen travel.
  • Travelers should note that it is not possible to have new visa applications accepted at this time, and that great delays may be expected for pending visa applications.
  • Many consular facilities have closed temporarily.
  • It is still possible to submit work and single permit applications in all regions via email.
  • Pending applications, including renewals, are also being processed though there may be some delays.
  • Because of local town hall closures, residence card renewals are experiencing delays.
  • Foreign visitors who are only visiting Belgium for brief periods, who also are unable to leave the country because of situations like quarantine or flight cancellations, are required to extend their visas in the event of an overstay.
  • Visa-exempt nationals under the same conditions are also required to request an exceptional extension of their stay.
  • Business visitors in the country under the same conditions, who need to stay longer for work reasons, are required to apply for a work permit.
  • Short-term workers in the country under the same conditions, who need to stay longer for work reasons, are required to apply a work authorization extension.

Analysis & Comments: The new travel, visa and permit restrictions will impact the movement of people to and from Belgium. Employers should account for affected travelers and rearrange travel schedules accordingly. Significant delays may occur for consular and in-country processing.

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