On 4 March 2022, the European Council adopted an implementing decision establishing temporary protection for Ukrainian refugees. The purpose of this temporary protection is to provide immediate and collective protection for the mass influx of Ukrainian refugees. As a result, no individual applications need to be examined.
- Who are eligible for the temporary protection status?
Ukrainian nationals, including their family members, are granted temporary protection on condition that they have resided in Ukraine until 24 February 2022. The same applies to third-country nationals and stateless persons who were granted international protection in Ukraine, including their family members.
Third-country nationals who have resided in Ukraine until 24 February 2022 on the basis of a permanent residence permit are in principle not eligible for the temporary protection status.
- The duration of the temporary protection status
The temporary protection is in principle valid for one year – from 4 March 2022, unless the European Council repeals the temporary protection statute earlier. This one-year period may be automatically extended by six months to a maximum of one year. Thereafter, the European Council may extend the temporary protection for another year if a safe and sustainable return to Ukraine is not possible.
- How to apply for temporary protection status and what documents to submit
Ukrainian nationals who seek temporary protection must present themselves in person, with their Ukrainian passport/residence document, at the new registration centre in Palais 8 at the Heysel. After the registration of their identity data and biometric data by the Immigration Department, a “temporary protection certificate” is issued.
With this certificate, the local municipality of the place of residence issues a temporary residence and work permit (“A card”) that is valid for one year (until 4 March 2023). In anticipation of the residence inspection and/or the issue of the A card, an annex 15 is issued, which is valid for 45 days.
- May the person under temporary protection status work legally in Belgium?
As soon as the Ukrainian refugee has received his/her A card (or temporary annex 15), he/she is allowed to work legally in Belgium.
- What can Ukrainians do who stayed outside Ukraine until 24 February 2022 and who cannot return to Ukraine? And are they allowed to work legally in Belgium?
Ukrainian nationals who stayed outside Ukraine until 24 February 2022 do not benefit from the temporary protection status.
If they are in possession of a biometric passport, they can enter Belgium (Schengen area) without a Schengen visa and stay there for 90 days in a 180-day period.
If it is not possible to return safely after the 90 days, an extension up to a maximum of 180 days can be applied for.
In any case, Ukrainian nationals staying outside Ukraine until 24 February 2022 are not allowed to work legally in Belgium (automatically). The standard rules for employment of third-country nationals apply to them.
The same rules apply to Ukrainian nationals who were in possession of a residence permit or a single permit but who no longer meet the conditions for renewal.
When employing a Ukrainian refugee, the employer must check whether he/she can benefit from the temporary protection status and is in possession of a valid A card or Annex 15 (stating “labour market: unlimited”). If not, the standard rules for employment of third-country nationals apply.