Work in Belgium for foreigners

How to find a job in Belgium for a foreigner, overview of work visas, salaries

The Belgian labour market offers various job options for foreigners. A country with good economic potential, it is possible to find jobs for professionals in different fields. To find a job in Belgium for foreigners, you need to study the requirements of employers, the labour law and the average wages in the regions.

The labour market in Belgium for foreigners

The advantage of employment in this EU country is the guaranteed social protection of the employee. Most of the bureaucratic formalities are taken care of by the employer. The unemployment rate in Belgium is relatively high. The reason is that locals don’t want to work in relatively low-paying jobs. This job market is occupied by foreigners.

A second promising job opportunity for foreigners in Belgium is the demand for highly qualified professionals. The vacancies are IT specialists, engineers and medical workers. The country’s legislation grants them preferential terms of employment.

The labour market in Belgium for foreigners

The benefits of working in Belgium:

  • They are higher than in the rest of the EU, but depend on the chosen field of work.
  • Social protection. Trade unions, supervising public authorities monitor compliance with working conditions.
  • There are many job vacancies. You can search online portals, websites and often job advertisements are placed in local newspapers.
  • Integrity of Belgians. According to feedback, cases of cheating or unfair treatment of employment obligations are rare in the country.

However, when looking for work in Belgium for foreigners, there are disadvantages to consider. The main one is the taxation system. Tax rates are some of the highest in Europe, and there is a progressive scale depending on income. There can be difficulties in obtaining an official permit, due to bureaucratic procedures.

Important: employers in the country have high demands on the qualifications of employees. During the interview, fill in your CV, state the actual work skills, experience.

Work permit processing

In order to be officially employed, a permit must be obtained. Belgian labour law has general rules for this procedure. However, each county of the country has specific requirements regarding the issuing of a work permit for foreigners. Depending on your current status, you can get a work permit for 1 year, with no time limit, with temporary employment. Alternatives are to use the EU Blue Card programmes or the card for free professions (professional card).

Tip: Before you look for a job, you should find out about the conditions for immigration to Belgium and the rules governing temporary or permanent residence permits and citizenship.

Type B for up to 1 year

This is the basic permit for starting a work detail in Belgium. It is granted for a period of 12 months and can be renewed an unlimited number of times. The condition is that the employee must meet the requirements of the employer and the Belgian labour law.

Type B for up to 1 year

How to find a job in Belgium for a foreigner with a B permit, steps.

  1. It is forbidden to live in Belgium. The prospective employee must be outside the country’s borders before the permit is issued.
  2. This is the employer who acts as the employer. He or she handles all the paperwork.
  3. Requirement for the vacancy. Possible candidates from the country or persons with a permanent or temporary residence permit are checked. If there are no people who match the conditions of the employer, it is possible to hire a person from another country.
  4. It must be higher than the national average for the profession. The annual salary is calculated every year. COLA (Cost Of Living Allowances) or other expense allowances are not taken into account.
  5. A medical certificate issued not more than 6 months ago.
  6. An employment contract that is not contrary to national law.

Once a foreigner has submitted the documents to work in Belgium, a work visa is issued within 10 working days. You then have to go to the country’s embassy to obtain a residence visa. This entitles you to enter Belgian territory.

Important: the candidate must be outside Belgium before all permits are issued. If he or she resides temporarily in the country, a B work visa will be refused.

Type A with unlimited period

This is an indefinite work permit for foreigners in Belgium. Once you have it, you can choose your own employer and there are no restrictions on the duration of the employment contract. However, a number of conditions must be fulfilled in order to obtain a work visa A. The first is that the applicant submits the documents him/herself.

Type A with unlimited period

Requirements for the permit:

  • Work on a B visa for four years.
  • Continuous residence in Belgium for 10 years.
  • No violations of the law, no court cases.
  • Fill in the application Aanvraag tot het bekomen van een arbeidskaart Aan – work permit application A.
  • Provide copies of visas B.

Additional information may be required. This depends on the applicant’s qualifications, information from the personnel file. It is important to provide reliable information, the work permit in Belgium for foreigners A is carefully checked.

For nationals of Turkey, Tunisia, Serbia, Morocco, Montenegro, Macedonia, Kosovo and Algeria a reduction of the mandatory period of employment under visa B is allowed. Reduction by 1 year is possible if dependants – family, minor children, spouses – live with the applicant. They have to live in Belgium.

A number of professions and workers are not eligible for visa A. These are trainees, temporary workers, technicians and people with high qualifications. But each application is considered individually. If you are able to prove the need for a work visa A, it is possible to obtain one.

Important: the registration takes place through the local municipal committee. The documents are submitted to the municipality and are then processed by the public employment authorities.

Type C with temporary employment

A special type of permit intended for agricultural work, for asylum seekers. The C-card can be applied for by students as well as people arriving under the family reunification programme. The particularity is that it is valid for one year and cannot be extended. After this period, a new application must be made.

The advantage is that you can apply for any position and salary. The work permit C equates foreigners with Belgians in terms of employment rights. However, the basic conditions of the employment law must be met.

Blue Card EU

The European Blue Card allows you to hire non-EU workers. In addition, it gives you permission to stay in Belgium for more than 3 months. The permit is issued by your employer or you can do this yourself through the Belgian embassy in your country. If you reside in the territory of the state, the documents should be submitted to the local municipality or municipality. The Blue Card EU is valid for 90 days from the date of issue of the temporary work permit. The card is valid for 5 years.

Blue Card EU

Conditions for receipt:

  • There is an employment contract with a Belgian employer.
  • A gross salary of at least 52,000 euros per year.
  • There is proof of specialist qualifications, a diploma of higher education.

Obtaining the EU Blue Card offers the possibility of obtaining long-term resident status. However, finding a job in Belgium for foreigners under this programme is difficult; employers have high requirements for applicants.

Important: obtaining a Blue Card guarantees your family members the possibility of obtaining a type B permit. The employer must have an official work permit for them.

Illegal work in Belgium

The shortage of workers in low-paid occupations has led to the development of an illegal labour market in Belgium. it targets foreigners with overstayed tourist visas. Wages in this field are much lower than in formal employment. The advantage is that you do not need a work permit.

Illegal work in Belgium

The risks of working illegally in Belgium for foreigners

  • No social protection. Non-standardised working hours, risk of non-payment of wages.
  • Low wages. Illegal workers find it difficult to negotiate higher wages.
  • If the local authorities prove illegal activities, the worker will be deported.

But the main risk is the inability to obtain an official work visa. The illegal immigrant will be deported to the border. From there, he must travel independently to his country of origin. He will not be allowed to enter Belgian territory.

Conclusion: Finding illegal work is the worst option for employment in Belgium. It is advisable to spend more effort and time to obtain official status.

On labour law in Belgium

The regulations on residence permits for foreigners in Belgium are described in the law of 15 December 1980. Further details can be found in the Royal Decree of 8 December 1981 on access to the territory, conditions for processing and residence. The additional conditions for obtaining a work permit for foreigners in Belgium are in accordance with the laws of the European Union.

On labour law in Belgium

Each region of the country has its own specific legal provisions. You can find out about them on the official websites:

General information can be read on the official website of the Federal Employment, Employment and Social Dialogue Service. Each Belgian municipality or municipality has a department that deals with applying for a work permit in the country. The specialists will provide you with a list of requirements, check your documents and advise you on your employment. It is important to follow the changes in the Belgian labour law.

Tip: Once you are employed, it is advisable to join a trade union. This guarantees social protection, but you have to pay an annual membership fee.

How to find work in Belgium

As a first step, it is advisable to contact your local job centre. This is where vacancies from employers in the area are posted. In addition, it is possible to find out about training courses and the possibility of receiving unemployment benefits. The main requirements for foreign workers are language skills and proof of qualifications and education.

Ways of finding work for foreigners in Belgium, options:

  • Visit online job sites –,,,
  • Local newspapers have separate sections for job offers.
  • Social media – LinkedIn and Epnetwork.
  • Ask your local municipality about possible work.

Before searching, it is advisable to compile a CV and if there are references from a former employer, translate them into the language of the region. An alternative is to sign up with a recruitment agency. The commission after employment will be paid by the employer. However, there are not many vacancies in recruitment agencies, mostly highly skilled occupations.

Overview of in-demand professions and salaries

More than 70% of jobs in Belgium are in the service sector. Here you can find jobs as waiters, cooks and couriers. The second most important job sector is drivers. Most vacancies are for truck drivers. Also it is possible to find a job in IT sphere, tourism business. There are vacancies without any qualification requirements.

Average salaries in Belgium by occupation:

  • IT specialists – from €3500.
  • Construction workers – €2,700.
  • Drivers, couriers – from €2,500.
  • Service workers – from €2,000.

The minimum wage in Belgium is 1,300 euros. However, many employers offer higher wages. The reason for this is to comply with labour law. It is mandatory to ensure the working conditions – organization of the workplace, standardized working hours.

According to foreigners, it is relatively quick to find work in Belgium if you fulfil the rules for applying for a work visa and living conditions. As in other EU countries, qualified workers are in demand in Belgium.