Belgium: Economic Migration Policy Updates to be Implemented in Flanders on March 1, 2021

January 29, 2021 Lucy Halse

Key Points

  • The Belgian government has announced changes for foreign workers in Flanders effective March 1, 2021
  • New regulations will improve mobility and simplify administrative procedures
  • Some restrictions will also be announced
  • New work visa exemptions and more flexible measures for short-term employment will be introduced
  • Restrictions include changes to in-country applications, limiting the validity for posted workers’ employment authorization, and requiring employers to notify authorities of work-related changes

Overview

On March 1, 2021, the government will implement changes to improve the country’s migration policies, including simplifying administrative procedures and improving mobility for foreign workers in Flanders.

What are the Changes?

Starting in March 2021, the government will clarify requirements in Flanders for frontier worker permits, create new work visa exemptions, and create a new, more flexible route for short-term employment. The changes also include restricting in-country applications, limiting the validity for posted workers’ work authorization, and requiring employers to notify authorities of certain work-related changes.

Short-Term Immigration Route

The Flemish government plans to create a new immigration route for foreign nationals pursuing short-term work in Flanders. Foreign employees who live abroad but work in Flanders with a Schengen visa C or a passport can obtain a Work Permit B starting in March, which has a validity of 90 days in a 180-day period.

Clarification for Frontier Worker Permits

The new regulations will allow workers in Belgium to obtain a work permit for employment in Flanders. The legislation will also distinguish between frontier workers and foreign workers who work in Belgium for up to 90 days in a 180-day period.

Labor Market Test Clarification

Starting in March 2021, employers will receive further clarification as to whether or not a labor market test is required for a renewal application. The forthcoming regulations will not require a labor market test for employers if they are hiring the same employee for the same position with a renewal application.

New Work Visa Exemptions

Additional work visa exemptions will be available starting in March 2021, including:

  • Researchers working in a Belgian research institution for 90 days in a six-month period
  • Foreign workers conducting training at a Belgian location of a multinational employer for up to 90 days
  • Workers posted to Flanders by a temporary work agency in another EU Member State
  • Foreign highly skilled workers employed as international teachers in Flanders

Additionally, the government will accept the direct application of provisions for short-term business travelers incorporated in the Trade and Cooperation Agreement between the UK and EU.

Restrictions

Additional restrictions will be added to the list of new regulations as well.

  • Employers must notify the Flemish Regional Employment Ministry of major changes in employment conditions, including delayed start dates and work authorization validity
  • Temporary assignments in the Flemish region must now have a local sponsoring entity
  • Foreign workers in Belgium with dependent residence status may apply for employee status in-country if they have an EU Blue Card. Applications for other status changes require the foreign worker to leave the country and apply from abroad
  • The posted worker’s permissible stay will be limited to the duration of his or her social security certificate

Looking Ahead

The Belgian government may announce additional changes to the country’s immigration system. Updates will be provided as they become available.


Content in this publication is not intended as legal advice, nor should it be relied on as such. For additional information on the issues discussed, consult an Envoy-affiliated attorney or another qualified professional.

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