Immigration to Belgium

Stages of immigration to Belgium, temporary and permanent residence permits and citizenship

Of all the countries of the European Union, Belgium is often considered when choosing a country to live in permanently. It is a kingdom with a stable economy, fair laws and good living conditions. However, if you wish to immigrate to Belgium, you must familiarize yourself with temporary or permanent residence and its list of documents.

Benefits of living in Belgium

The country is located between Germany, France and the Netherlands. Its population is 11.7 million. It is divided into three regions: Flagem, Walloon and Brussels. Despite the national legislation, to immigrate to Belgium to a specific region, it is necessary to know the requirements. The advantages and disadvantages of living permanently in the country are analyses beforehand.

Benefits of living in Belgium

Pros of moving to Belgium:

  • There is a developed system of schools, kindergartens and a medical program. The country has a convenient transport infrastructure. You can quickly reach other EU countries from there.
  • Democratic system. The work of the courts and legislative bodies is transparent, corruption is minimal.
  • A developed economy. Because of its convenient location on the map of Europe, many transportation routes go through Belgium.
  • Its multilingualism. When immigrating, you should consider that the country is divided into 3 language regions. But at the same time almost all residents know English.
  • There are many historical and natural attractions, and traditions are preserved.

The main drawback is the state system. There are differences in each region, at the legislative and domestic level. Immigrants in Belgium can face a high level of bureaucracy. The tax legislation provides for high rates.

Interesting: according to the rating the best cities to live in the country are Antwerp, Bruges, Ghent, Leuvel and Liège.

Types of immigration to Belgium

To come to the country, you have to apply for a visa which allows you to stay in the territory for up to 90 days. Long-term tourist visa type D requires travel medical insurance, proof of sufficient means of subsistence (bank statement) and hotel or any accommodation booking. Type C or A visas are not suitable for immigration to Belgium. The former gives permission to stay in the country’s colonies, the latter is a transit visa for airports.

Temporary residence permit

You must obtain a residence permit if you are to reside in Belgium for more than 90 days. Immigration to Belgium involves several statuses, ranging from student to family reunification. It is possible to obtain a temporary residence permit from the local municipalities. However, you must first apply at the Belgian embassy or consulate in your country.


Basic document for a temporary residence permit

Employee, employee Work permit
Self-employed Professional card
There are funds for accommodation Certificate of income – savings, rental income, pension
Student Confirmation of university (school) enrolment

Health insurance

Confirmation of your means of subsistence

EU trainee worker Offer of employment
Trainee worker for a Belgian employer Work permit
Reunification with family

These documents for immigration to Belgium are prepared in advance. They are translated into French, German or Dutch. The translation will be certified and will be produced in an official form.

Steps in obtaining a temporary residence permit.

  1. Apply for a D visa.
  2. After arrival, register at the local authority for the population or foreigners. This is done within 8 days.
  3. 2-3 months later, the municipality issues a temporary residence permit. The immigrant receives a certificate of registration in the registry of foreigners (C.I.R.E.). It is valid for one year. It can be extended.

The application for a temporary residence permit in Belgium may be refused. Reasons: Invalid data in filling in the application form, expired documents. Before starting the registration process, it is necessary to check all data. Otherwise, there is a possibility of refusal of immigration to Belgium.

Important: The status allows a foreigner to travel to Schengen countries. A valid passport is a prerequisite.

Documents for obtaining a temporary residence permit

The following documents are required in order to obtain a D visa:

  • National or foreign passport. Validity period – at least 12 months.
  • Visa application form, 2 copies.
  • 2 colour passport photos.
  • Certificate of absence of criminal record, issued not later than 6 months.
  • Medical certificate. Certified by consulate or embassy.
  • Additional documents. The list depends on future status for immigration to Belgium.
  • Certified translation of documents.
  • Amount between 60 and 350 EUR.

Documents for a temporary residence permit in Belgium:

  • National or foreign passport with a D visa.
  • Rental agreement or proof of accommodation.
  • Completion of a registration application or form 15.

Translation of documents in your country of residence for immigration to Belgium is done according to an approved apostille procedure. It is important to check whether your government has signed the Convention. In this case, no additional costs for a certified translator will be required.

Permanent residence permit

A permanent residence permit is necessary for a long-term stay in the country. In addition to the condition of having permanent income, residence must be demonstrated by proof of continuous residence in the country for at least 183 days per year. The best way to obtain a residence permit is to obtain a B-card – séjour illimité/verblijf van onbeperkte duur. It allows you to work in the country without an official work permit or a professional card. The B-card is also the first step towards a C-card.

Permanent residence permit

Conditions for the D-card for a citizen of a country outside the EU area:

  • The applicant has a permanent and proven income in Belgium.
  • Has health insurance in the country.
  • Has been living permanently in the Belgian region for at least 5 years.

There is no approved procedure for obtaining a B-card. Each applicant is examined individually. Family situation, professional skills, health and age are taken into account. Information on the possibility of immigrating to Belgium with a B-card may be obtained from the local municipality.

To apply for a C or D card, you should contact your regional municipality. In the first case, you must fill in Annex 16. Once the application is processed, the status is granted for a period of 5 years. It can be renewed an unlimited number of times.

Important: the new status for immigrants in Belgium gives them the possibility to leave the country indefinitely.

Obtaining Belgian citizenship

The benefits of acquiring Belgian citizenship permanently are visa-free entry to 184 countries, social support, and a guaranteed pension. However, to immigrate you must prove your loyalty to the state – pay taxes, develop business in its territory, and be a law-abiding citizen.

Obtaining Belgian citizenship

Main ways of acquiring Belgian citizenship:

  • Condition: permanent residence in the territory of Belgian municipality for more than 5 years. Applicant must be over 18 years of age, have no criminal record or legal problems, and no tax debts. Knowledge of Dutch, French or German at least level A2.
  • Marriage to a Belgian citizen can be arranged to immigrate to Belgium. Children of foreigners born in the state may obtain citizenship after reaching the age of 12.
  • By birth or family reunion. Belgian relatives have to apply for permission. In addition, proof of permanent residence with at least 12 m² of living space per person. You have to have a steady income.

The formalization of citizenship is a complex, step-by-step procedure. It is difficult for an immigrant from another country to acquire Belgian nationality if there are no close relatives with Belgian nationality in the country. It will take a minimum of five to six years to achieve this, and it is essential that the conditions are met.

Important: in terms of ethnicity, the inviting relatives must be of up to 3 generations.

Business immigration

In order to develop the economy, the government has developed several programs to attract foreign investment. Business immigration to Belgium with direct financial investment in the economy is possible. You can either set up a commercial project, the SPRL, or set up a non-profit organization, the ASBL. In the latter case, it can be schools, development centres, rehabilitation.

Business immigration

To set up an SPRL project, the conditions have to be fulfilled:

  • The founders are 1 or 2 persons depending on the form of ownership of the limited liability company.
  • The company is private and the sale of shares is limited by the Articles of Association.
  • The founders make commitments. They apply only to the amount of contributions.
  • The articles of association are notarized, drawn up in one of the national languages.
  • Minimum amount of initial capital is 18550 Euro.

The company is registered in Belgium and has an official address. Employment contracts with accountant, other employees are also concluded. The founders must prove competence in the chosen field of activity. Business immigration to Belgium requires no criminal record or ill-health.

A minimum of 3 founders is required to set up a non-profit ASBL project. However, it does not need to be notarised. There is also no need to provide start-up capital. The non-profit organization will be monitored by the local regulatory authorities. Its work must not go beyond the statutes.

Important: Business immigration to Belgium is not an automatic procedure for obtaining a residence permit.

For refugees from Ukraine

Due to Russia’s aggression against Ukraine in 2022, Belgian authorities have simplified the procedure for Ukrainians to obtain refugee status. No visa is needed to cross the border, just a passport. Volunteers work to help refugees from Ukraine and new state programmers have been created. This simplifies the procedure of receiving the status.

For refugees from Ukraine

Refugee status in Belgium for Ukrainians

  1. In Brussels, submit documents to the immigration office. It is located at Rue Verregat, 1020 Brussels. It is open from 8:30 to 16:00.
  2. After obtaining your registration number, go to your local municipality at the address of your future actual residence.
  3. the municipality will issue an A-card with the possibility of living in Belgium for 1 year.
  4. Social security – medical care, subsistence allowance and enrolment of children in schools and kindergartens.

The municipality can provide housing if you have difficulties finding a place to stay. This may be a refugee camp or a place to live with a Belgian family. The social services check the standards of accommodation and the conditions. Free travel for refugees from Ukraine has been abolished since 1 June 2022. You have to buy a travel card to move around the territory.