Soon employees or citizens with foreign nationality - non-EU nationals - will have to follow only one procedure to obtain a work permit or a professional card.

Today, a foreign employee or a foreign national who has the intention to live and work in Belgium, needs first to start a procedure to obtain a work permit or a professional card, and then, subsequent to this procedure, he needs to apply for a right of residence (residence permit) as well, as the latter is connected to the work permit or the professional card. From now on, this procedure will be merged as one single procedure.

This modification is the result of the partial implementation of the Directive 2011/98/EU, or the "Single Permit" directive.

1. Single Permit

The combined permit or the "single permit" is an electronic card, which allows a non-EU national to work and to reside.

This card will be issued to foreign nationals and employees who are non-citizens of the European Union en who wants to work and reside in Belgium.

2. One application – One procedure

The single permit can only be applied for employment and residence of more than 90 days (Work permit A and B).

For employment and residence of less than 90 days (Work permit B), the current procedure of two separate applications still applies.

Work permit C, which is issued to foreign nationals who already reside in Belgium for other reasons than work (students, foreign nationals who reside in Belgium as a result of family unification, asylum seekers and suchlike) is to be abolished. The procedure of the single permit does not apply to this category of foreign nationals since they receive a temporary residence permit which automatically mentions the extent of their acces to the labour market.

The application itself, will be submitted with the Regional Migration Authorities who will examine the admissibility and the completeness of the application within 15 days after the application is submitted. After this verification, the Regional Migration Authorities and the Immigration Office will examine the application; each of them will have to take a positive decision regarding the application individually.

In case of a negative decision of one or both competent authorities, the applicant has the possibility to appeal against the decision.

3. Expected entry into force

The effective implementation of the single permit procedure is expected in October-November 2018. In the meantime, the current regulations still apply.

Work permits, which are already issued, will still be valid after regulation entry into force of this new "single permit".

For employers, who have the intention to employ non-EU nationals, the single permit means a welcome simplification and a definite time saving.