Dec 04 2018

Update on Single Permit Implementation


The situation

Starting January 1, 2019, Belgium’s Single Permit scheme for foreign nationals seeking to work for over 90 days will become available.

A closer look

Details on the Single Permit system include the following:

  • Documents required at earlier stage. Although document requirements will remain the same, applicants will be required to submit documents related to residence at an earlier stage in the single application process. This includes proof of medical examination, an apostilled or legalized police clearance certificate and proof of health insurance coverage. Previously, these documents were submitted at the consular post after obtaining initial work authorization.

    • Impact. Applicants must prepare more supporting documents at an earlier stage of the process. As lead times for obtaining these items can be up to several weeks, employers and foreign nationals should plan for longer document gathering time or ensure that they have their documents ready at the start of the immigration process.

  • Selection of pickup location. Applicants will be required to choose a location to pick up their final Single Permit decision at the submission stage. They can either pick it up at the relevant Belgian consular post and apply for a long-stay visa, or if they are eligible for any other entry than a long-stay visa, they may choose to pick it up at the local town hall in Belgium and start their Belgian registration process. Previously, applicants could make this decision at a later stage in the process.

    • Impact. Applicants must decide in advance whether they will apply for a visa and where they will collect their visa.

  • Longer processing times. Single Permit applications are expected to be processed in 60-135 calendar days, up from the current 46-100 days. Transition to the new process, including the alignment required between the institutions involved, is expected to cause delays during the transitional period of a few months. 

    • Impact. Employers and foreign nationals should plan for longer processing times during the transition period.

  • Renewals of work and residence permits. Current work and residence permits must be renewed through the single application process. The application must be submitted to the Regional Employment Authorities which will decide on the work authorization, in line with the current process. The Immigration Office will decide on the residence authorization as part of the single application process. The applicant’s local town hall will deliver the approved Single Permit to them.

    • Impact. Renewal applicants should expect longer processing times. However, they will also benefit from an easier process since once their work and residence authorization is approved, they will have to visit the town hall only to request and to collect their Single Permit, instead of the previous process where they had to visit the town hall to collect the work permit and subsequently initiate the residence permit renewal.


The Single Permit is an EU initiative that all EU countries were obligated to implement by December 2013. It offers a single application process for work and residence authorizations and creates a framework for other EU directives such as the EU Student and Researcher Directive and the EU Intracompany Transferee (ICT) Directive, which introduce specific types of single permits for these categories.


Looking ahead

  • Next steps. Although the introduction of the Single Permit and the single application process allows the implementation of the EU Student and Researcher Directive and the EU ICT Directive, further implementing legislation is required. The executive legislation is expected to enter into force in May 2019. Fragomen will monitor developments and will keep clients informed.

  • Changes in Flanders. As a reminder, Flanders will facilitate labor market access as of January 1, 2019 specifically for young talent, medium- and highly-skilled staff. Key changes include streamlining processes for shortage occupations; lowering minimum salary requirements for young talent; and increasing the initial work authorization validity period to three years, up from one.


How Fragomen can help

The policy changes in Flanders create new opportunities to attract and to retain talent in Flanders. Fragomen’s Belgian team can support clients in strategic planning, for example by setting up trainee programs, programs for talent recruitment, strategies for technical profile recruitment and by auditing employers’ internal mobility or recruitment processes.

This alert is for informational purposes only. If you have any questions, please contact the global immigration professional with whom you work at Fragomen or send an email to