New immigration rules apply in Wallonia for foreign employees who are not European Economic Area or Swiss nationals. Like the Flemish Region (see previous Update), the Walloon Region has radically reformed the rules on employing foreign employees.

The main points are:

  • The employment of foreign employees exercising a shortage profession is facilitated. A list of shortage professions will be drawn up annually.
  • The salary of highly qualified employees cannot be lower than the applicable annual salary threshold but from now must also not be lower than that of comparable positions.
  • An authorisation to work can be granted for a maximum of three years for specific categories of foreign workers, in particular for highly qualified personnel.
  • The exemptions from the requirement to obtain an authorisation to work have been amended.
  • New ‘European’ categories of highly educated or special profiles have been introduced to implement a number of European directives such as intra-corporate transferees, seasonal workers, researchers, trainees and volunteers in the framework of the European Voluntary Service.
  • New obligations for employers apply.
  • The grounds for refusal and withdrawal are extended.

The new rules apply retroactively from 1 June 2019 but authorisations obtained before will remain valid. Applications submitted before 1 June 2019 will be dealt with according to the old rules, unless they are less favourable. The rules for the new ‘European’ categories are not yet in force and will enter into force later (date not yet known).