A work permit/residence visa is an authorization for the right to engage in full time employment in a country where the individual would not naturally be eligible to work in. The authorization must come from the relevant authority in the country he/she intends to work in. A typical work visa will be in the form a standard document or more commonly a stamp in your passport. It must be noted that depending on the country you seek employment and residency in; some individuals are not required to obtain a work visa, it is largely dependant on your nationality, but sometimes the type of employment will be a deciding factor. Generally all jurisdictions with reciprocal treaty agreements (for example the European Union) do not stipulate that an EU national must obtain a work visa for undertaking employment in those countries. Every country will lay down conditions which must be satisfied in order to qualify for a work visa.
Belgium adopts a full European Union Member status and is party to the Schengen agreement. This means that all EU citizens and Swiss nationals have the right to reside and take up full time employment in Belgium without the need to obtain a work permit or residency visa. The Freedom of Movement Act under EU Law provides that all nationals of EU member states have full authorization to move between the member states for the purpose of residing there and taking up employment either alone or with their family. EU members are exempt from the requirement from acquiring a work permit however this exemption still requires them to register their right to reside in the EU country after a certain period of time.
Non-EU citizens are not exempt from obtaining a work permit or residency visa in Belgium. They are legally required to hold a work permit and residency visa prior to commencing in full time employment in Belgium. They must also have a formal offer of employment from a Belgian employer before the application process for the relevant permits can begin. Typically the employees work permit is applied for by the applicants sponsor company (Belgian employer). The application is lodged with the Ministry of Employment in Belgium. Non EU nationals who are employed by a Belgium employer require a work permit and self employed individuals require a ‘professional card’. A Belgium professional card is valid for a period of 5 years.
Belgium unlike many other EU member countries do not require for foreign nationals to obtain a work permit where the individual intends to partake in short term voluntary/unpaid work in Belgium.
Belgium Working Holiday Visa – is applicable to all Canadian, Australian and New Zealand citizens provided they are between the ages of 18-30 years old. This type of permit allows the above mentioned citizens to visit Belgium for a period of up to 1 year and permits the holder to undertake employment to fund their visit.
Investment Visa – Individuals who intend to invest a significant sum of money into the local economy in Belgium or who intend to invest in a new business start up automatically qualify for a residence and work permit.
Is applicable to all foreign nationals (Non-EU citizens) intending to take up employment in Belgium. There are 3 main types of Belgium work permit.
For an applicant to obtain an employment contract and subsequently a work permit in Belgium, the sponsor company has the responsibility to prove that there are no current EU citizens available or willing to fill the vacancy. A Belgium work permit is necessary for the applicant to then seek a Belgium residence visa or a Long-stay visa.
Required Documents when applying for a Belgium Work Permit or Professional Card: