Work permit for foreign workers

Foreign workers who wish to work in Belgium as employees (i.e. working under an employment contract) must hold a work permit. This does not apply to nationals of the Member States of the European Economic Area (Eu,  Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein) and Suisse nationals. There are other exceptions, however, depending on the nature of activities or residence status of the foreigner. For example, scientific researchers or those holding permanent residence permits entitling indefinite stay in Belgium are exempt from requiring a work permit.

Belgian employers must request an occupation permit and a work permit B when they want to employ a foreign worker (unless the latter already holds a work permit A or C). Based on this occupation permit, the foreign worker may apply for a visa.

As an employer, you are responsible for requesting authorization from Brussels Economy and Employment.  In this context, you should prove that you were unable to find any applicants from Belgium or the EU meeting the qualifications required in the regional employment market.  A permit B will be issued in the majority of cases.  This is valid for one year, and can be renewed annually.

There are three different types of work permit:

Work permit type A, which is valid for all salaried professions and all employers, for an unlimited period;

Work permit type B, which is only valid for a specific job and for a period of 12 months;

Work permit type C, which is designed for specific categories of foreign natives who are staying in Belgium temporarily or who are still awaiting a decision on their right to stay (must be renewed each year). The type-C work permit is available for all paid jobs and is valid for up to one year.

There is also the European blue card.  It can be granted for certain highly educated workers in connection with obtaining a temporary employment permit.

Details on every work permit, as well as applications for an occupation permit or work permit A, B, or C can be made to Brussels Economy and Employment. On its site you will find a tool that will show you, in a few clicks, if you need to apply for a type-A, -B or -C work permit and that will direct you towards the documents you have to send to Brussels Economy and Employment.

Updated 11/04/2019

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