What is the update? The Federal Immigration Office in Belgium has announced a plan to reduce processing times of applications for single permits.

What does the update mean? A shift of responsibilities from the Federal Ministry to local communal authorities for part of the process should decrease processing times during the next few months. For the time being, an overall processing time of up to four months should still be expected. 

  • Implementation date: To be announced.
  • Visas/permits affected: Single work-and-residence permits.
  • Who is affected:  Foreign nationals applying for a single work-and-residence permit.
  • Current processing times:
    • Four to six weeks for regional authorities to make a decision on employment authorization.
    • Eight to 10 weeks for the federal immigration authorities to approve issuance of the visa.
  • What’s next: Employers should expect the process to be streamlined in the next few months and processing times to improve.

Background: In January, all three regions of Belgium introduced a single work-and-residence permit system under the European Union directive. The system unifies work-and-residence permit procedures for non-EU/EEA workers across the EU.

Under the new process, employers may submit a completed application with all supporting documentation to regional authorities, who issue a conditional work authorization. The file is then transferred to federal immigration authorities to determine entry eligibility and approve issuance of a visa by the appropriate Belgian consulate. The single permit is then issued by the commune to authorize both work and residence and will be valid for up to three years, depending on the employment contract or assignment letter.

Additional updates:

  • As of June, the Brussels region will also be able to grant a single permit for a period of three years if proper supporting documents are provided.
  • In the Walloon region, the single permit can only be issued for a maximum period of one year, for the time being.
  • It is expected that the ICT permit will be implemented in the Flemish and Brussels regions during the next few months.

Analysis & Comments: Employers need to take these increased processing times into account when planning new assignments and dealing with renewal applications. It is currently impossible to fast-track applications. Source: Deloitte LLP. Deloitte LLP is a limited liability partnership registered in England and Wales with registered number OC303675 and its registered office at 1 New Street Square, London EC4A 3HQ, United Kingdom.