Belgium, and Flanders as a region, has the most effective migration policy for attracting highly-skilled workers from outside of the EU. That is the conclusion of consultancy firm Deloitte’s 2016 Comparative Immigration Study. In short, the speed, low cost and accessible conditions for obtaining a work permit are the main reasons for the study’s findings.
To top it all off, relocating to Belgium (Flanders) is much simpler than virtually anywhere else in Europe.
Step 1 – Get your work permit: it’s fast and easy
From request to delivery, a Belgian work permit can be obtained in an average of 6 weeks (versus up to 15 weeks in other European countries). Belgian work permits are valid for 12 months but can easily be extended.
While you’ll mostly need a work permit to live and work in Flanders, some categories of employees – such as European Economic Area (EEA) nationals – are exempt from this general rule. In general, obtaining a Belgian work permit depends on:
- your nationality and country of residence;
- the length of your stay in Belgium;
- your professional status in Belgium (employee or self-employed).
Can’t wait to come work in Flanders? Note that your future local employer has to make the formal request to employ a foreign citizen and obtain a work permit for you. In other words, your work permit will be linked to a specific job at one specific employer.
In general, your future employer has to prove that it is impossible to find a suitable candidate on the local job market – unless you’re highly-educated or managerial staff, that is. In that case, you only have to:
- fulfill the minimum salary requirement (a gross annual salary of EUR 39,824);
- be able to present your authenticated degrees and/or certificates.
Do you wish to reside in Belgium (Flanders) to carry out a lucrative independent trade or profession, and you are not a citizen of a European Union member state, Iceland, Norway or Liechtenstein? Then you should file for a professional card:
- either with the Belgian diplomatic or consular post in your country of last residence;
- or with the local authorities of your town of residence if you’re already legally residing in Belgium.
Do you have your work permit or professional card? Fantastic! Now you’ll need to: for a type D visa in
- apply for a type D visa in your place of residence abroad;
- obtain your Belgian Electronic ID card, once you arrive back in Belgium (Flanders). Report to the city authorities in your place of residence in Belgium. They will register you as a legal foreigner in the municipality.
The final thing to do before you can kick off your new career in Flanders is to register on LIMOSA – the central electronic database of the Belgian social security system. Have a nice work day!
Once you’ve gotten past the formalities of getting your work and residence permits, you’ll find that life doesn’t get any better than it does in Flanders.