Excerpted from the Belgium Career Guide
Belgium issues work permits to highly qualified personnel, executives, researchers, trainees, au pairs and workers in fields where there is a labor shortage in Belgium. Students entering Belgium are permitted to work part time during the course of their studies and full time during break periods; a work permit is required for employment while school is in session. A citizen of a visa waiver country (see Visa Exemptions) does not need a visa to engage in any business function other than paid employment. If the applicant is not a citizen of a visa waiver country, he or she must apply for a Schengen Visa.
Belgium is a member of the Schengen Convention whose purpose is to eliminate controls at common borders and promote free movement of people within the Schengen area. The countries covered under the Schengen Agreement include Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.
Citizens of the EU, EEA or Switzerland may study in Belgium without visas or residence permits. However, foreign students must register with the Population or Aliens Office in the Belgian municipality within eight days of arrival in Belgium. In order to register as an EU/EEA or Swiss citizen, a foreign student must present a birth certificate, marriage certificate (if applicable), proof of registration at a Belgian educational institution and proof the student will have sufficient means to support himself/herself.
A citizen of a non-EU country must apply for a residence permit before beginning studies in Belgium. He or she must apply for the residence permit from outside Belgium.
To apply for a visa for a short stay (up to 90 days) in Belgium, submit the following additional documents to the embassy or consulate responsible for the applicant’s place of residence:
- A valid travel document (three months longer than the visa)
- A visa application form
- A letter of invitation, written by a Belgian company or a company located in Belgium indicating the purpose and duration of the planned stay as well as the nature of the business relationship existing between that company and the applicant or the applicant’s company...
Foreign nationals who wish to work in Belgium as employees (i.e. working under an employment contract) must hold a work permit. However, this does not apply to Swiss nationals or nationals of EEA.
Before the prospective foreign employee enters Belgium, the employer must apply for and obtain a work permit, along with an employer permit, at the relevant sub-regional employment service, which is determined by where the company's head office is established.
Receiving permission to work in Belgium is a two-step process:
- The employer must apply for an employer permit and a work permit for the foreign employee.
- After the sub-regional employment service has issued the two documents, the employee may apply for a D or D + C Visa. When the visa is approved, the employee will also receive a temporary residence permit.
This is just a short sample of what you’ll find in over 100 pages of information in the Belgium Guide.