3.1 When UK citizens become third-country nationals will they need permission to work?
Yes, unless they can rely on an exemption such as:
- in Flanders and Wallonia in the event of a nodeal Brexit: for a maximum of 90 days until 31 December 2020;
- in Brussels in the event of a nodeal Brexit: for a maximum of 90 days per period of 180 days until 31 December 2020;
- business meetings in ‘closed circle’ (maximum 20 subsequent calendar days per meeting and 60 days per year in total);
- family members of an EU national or a nonEU national who has authorisation to work (subject to conditions);
- holders of a permanent Belgian residence permit (electronic Bcard, C-card or D-card);
- ‘Van Der Elst exemption’ (subject to conditions);
Even if UK citizens would be exempt from the authorisation to work, employers will need to carry out documentation checks, and are subject to important criminal penalties (level 4 penalties) for non-compliance.
3.2 If permission to work is needed do any quotas apply for employing third-country nationals?
3.3 If permission to work is needed, as of when will it be needed?
Current status (December 2019):
From the date of Brexit in the event of a no-deal Brexit, transition measures will apply until 31 December 2020:
- for UK citizens residing or having applied to reside in Belgium pre- Brexit (electronic E(+) card);
- for family members joining UK citizens in the category described in the first bullet point
- for UK citizens not residing in Belgium on Brexit date for maximum 90 days in Flanders and Wallonia and maximum 90 days per period of 180 days in Brussels.
From 1 January 2021 (for new arrivals) if the Withdrawal Agreement (‘WA’) is ratified before Brexit date. UK citizens and their family members residing in Belgium on 31 December 2020 also keep their rights to reside and work in Belgium after Brexit under the WA.
3.4 If permission to work is needed, what are the most common categories?
For employees in Brussels (current status of the law):
- highly skilled employees: Bachelor’s degree and annual remuneration of at least EUR 41,739 gross (2019)/ EUR 42,869 gross (2020);
- management personnel: annual remuneration of at least EUR 69,637 gross (2019)/EUR 71,521 gross (2020);
- trainees (subject to conditions).
For employees in Flanders:
The Flemish Region has introduced a new economic migration model based on three separate profiles as of 1 January 2019:
- highly qualified (Bachelor’s degree and annual remuneration of at least EUR 41,868 gross (2019)/EUR 42,696 gross (2020) and special profiles (subject to conditions);
- certain mediumskilled profiles (only for shortage professions listed in a dynamic bi-annual shortage profession list);
- profiles that fall into a residual category subject to a labour market test and for whom ‘special economic and social reasons’ must be established.
For employees in Wallonia:
The Walloon Region also introduced a new economic migration model based on three separate profiles as of 1 June 2019:
- Highly qualified (Batchelor’s degree and annual remuneration of at least EUR 41,739 gross (2019)/EUR 42.869 gross (2020) but salary cannot be lower than that of comparable positions in accordance with the applicable laws, collective agreements or practices) and special profiles (subject to conditions);
- Shortage professions (annual list);
Profiles that fall into a residual category subject to a labour market test and for whom ‘special reasons of economic or social order or of public order, public security or public health’ must be established.
3.5 If permission to work or stay is needed, how long does the procedure take?
Permission to work and stay in Belgium for less than 90 days:
- employer needs to apply for a work permit B from the competent Region: four to eight weeks;
- depending on the circumstances of the case, the employee may need to apply for a residence permit.Permission to work and stay in Belgium for more than 90 days:
- employer needs to apply for a Single Permit from the competent region: may take up to +/ 4.5 months;
- evidence of the absence of a criminal record (with an Apostille or legalised) needs to be submitted at the start of the procedure. Sufficient preparation time should be factored into employment plans.