Mobility and immigration

In 2019, the legal framework concerning the employment of foreign workers was drastically revised. In order to be able to work in Belgium on a long-term basis, foreign workers must in principle apply for a single permit via the single permit procedure.

The implementation of this legislation in practice has thrown up a number of problems over the past year. In particular, the long processing times caused a lot of frustration and inconvenience. Recently, a number of administrative measures have been taken to resolve these issues.

  • The Immigration Office is hiring

The Long-stay Department of the Immigration Office, which is responsible for processing the “residence component” of the single permit application will be reinforced with extra manpower. It is hoped that this measure will lead to a halving of the processing time.

  • Administrative process to be simplified

In the case of a positive decision, the Immigration Office will henceforth send only one document, namely the decision on the issuing of the single permit (Annex 46 or 47).

  • Interruption of employment to be avoided

In the case of an extension of the single permit, the employee will from now on be able to obtain a provisional residence permit from his/her municipality based on a positive decision of the Region with regard to the “work component” and with which he/she is permitted to work pending the final decision of the Immigration Office.

  • Digitalisation

As of 1 March 2020, all renewal applications in Flanders will have to be made digitally. On the insistence of the social partners, a transparent, modern electronic platform is being developed. This should further simplify the procedure and the exchange of information between all actors involved. This platform is expected to become operational as early as the beginning of 2021. To be continued.

Action point

The processing time of single permit applications should be reduced in the future, which will enable employers to employ foreign workers more quickly in Belgium. Moreover, in the event of a renewal, the employee will be able to continue working in Belgium with a provisional residence permit.