What is the change? Belgian authorities are finalizing legislation to introduce a single work and residence permit later this year.

What does the change mean? Applicants should anticipate delays in the coming months as federal immigration authorities assume new responsibilities for permit issuance. Currently, regional municipalities are responsible for processing residence permits.

  • Implementation time frame: Ongoing. The earliest possible date of implementation is October 2018.
  • Visas/permits affected: Work and residence permits for long-term (more than 90 days) assignments.
  • Who is affected: Non-EU nationals seeking to work and reside in Belgium.
  • Impact on processing times: The regime is intended to ease processing by simplifying procedures into a single application for both work and residency.
  • Business impact: While immigration services are currently experiencing delays, employers should be prepared for additional delays as authorities transition to the new system.
  • Next steps: Some legislation has already been voted on, but authorities have not released detailed information on procedures.

Background: An EU directive (Directive 2011/98/EU), issued on Dec. 13, 2011, required member states to adopt a single application procedure for a single permit authorizing non-EU nationals to reside and work, as well as a common set of rights for non-EU workers legally residing in a member state. The deadline for EU countries to make the change was Dec. 25, 2013, but Belgium has been slow to adopt legislation.

BAL Analysis: The single permit will only affect long-term assignments of more than 90 days. Employees on short-term employment of up to 90 days in Belgium will continue to use the dual system of applying for work permits and residence permits separately. Work permits under the current system will remain valid until their expiration date, and employees will only need to apply for the single permit when renewing their permits. BAL is following the legislation and will report developments as they become available. Meanwhile, employers and non-EU employees and assignees should anticipate delays in the coming months as the new system is rolled out.

This alert has been provided by the BAL Global Practice group and our network provider located in Belgium. For additional information, please contact your BAL attorney.

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