Belgium has finally transposed the EU ‘Single Permit’ Directive (2011/98/EU). The federal Act approving the Cooperation Agreement was published on 24 December 2018 and the Single Permit has entered into force. From now on, a new single application procedure for obtaining a single permit to work and reside in Belgium for a period longer than 90 days will be used throughout Belgium. Even so, it may take up to 4.5 months for the application process to be completed so employers will need to align their internal processes and timelines accordingly.
Further, work permit C (previously granted to some individuals who had a right to reside in Belgium for reasons other than work, such as students and asylum seekers after four months) has been abolished and replaced by a note on the employee’s residence permit.
Besides these new Belgium-wide rules, the conditions for employing foreign employees in Flanders have also been significantly reformed in 2019. The Flemish Region introduced a new economic migration model based on three separate profiles: highly qualified and special profiles, certain medium-skilled profiles (only for professions listed in a shortage list updated twice a year) and profiles in a residual category subject to a labour market test and for whom ‘special economic and social reasons’ must be established. These new rules only apply in Flanders and not in Brussels or Wallonia.