BELGIUM: Further Measures to Mitigate Single Permit Processing Delays

The Belgian authorities have taken further steps to decrease application processing times for the single permit, and to avoid lapses in work authorization due to the slower processing of the residence authorization.

Measures

Foreign employees for whom an extension (renewal) application is submitted can now continue to work as soon as the work authorization approval decision is issued by the regional employment authority.

These applicants will now receive a provisional right of residence (Annex 49) pending the decision of the Federal Immigration Office regarding their stay, whereas previously they ended up in uncertainty and had to temporarily stop working.

This measure was put in place in June 2019 by the Flanders region only, but now applies in all three Belgian regions.

Moreover, funds have been made available to recruit twenty extra staff members at the Federal Immigration Office and an adjustment has been made to the procedure, which is expected to allow faster processing times.

Background

In January 2019, the Belgian authorities introduced the Single Permit, combining work and residence authorization requests into a single application, implementing the Single Permit Directive (2011/98/EU).

However, processing of Single Permits is taking several months, and there has been a lack of clarity about when applicants can start or continue to work in Belgium. This has especially caused problems for those holding existing work permits under the previous system, whose immigration status expires or who change employers during processing of the Single Permit.

Our Advice

Employers who may be affected are encouraged to contact a Newland Chase immigration specialist for case-specific advice.

For general advice and information on immigration and business travel to Belgium, please contact us.