UPDATE – EU Single Permit Directive implementation


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Currently, Belgium does not offer a single application procedure nor a combined work and residence permit. More specifically, the right to reside1 and the right to work2 are organized in a separate permit system.
A third country national and his/her employer have to apply first for a work permit which, if approved, will give him/her the right to apply for a residence permit. EU national workers enjoy, on the other hand, different rights then non-EU national workers as they are allowed to work or start a business in Belgium on the sole basis of their residence card.


The European Parliament and Council adopted the European single permit directive4 on 13 December 2011 in order to simplify and harmonize the rules currently applicable in EU Member States and, as such, create a more efficient unified work and residence permit application procedure for third-country nationals and their employers.
The implementation of the directive will have a significant procedural impact in Belgium. The directive is designed to facilitate legal migration as well as install common workers’rights for EU and non-EU workers. The European Commission adds in this regard that the directive “aims at providing a clear set of rules for third country nationals working legally within the EU so that they can benefit from common rights, similar to those of EU nationals, regarding working conditions, pensions, social security and access to public services.”5 The directive complements also other measures on European legal migration such as the EU blue card.
Member States had two years to adapt their national laws to the new rules. Belgium did not adopt the combined work and residence permit system with a unified application process by December 2013.
In March 2014, Belgium received a letter of formal notice6 from the European Commission as no efforts have been undertaken to implement/transpose the Directive in its legal order… the Belgian Government reacted… .


The Belgian Council of Ministers announced on 20 May 2016 their agreement on a preliminary design of legislative texts implementing the EU Single Permit Directive into national legislation. In concrete, a draft legislation text will amend the Foreigner’s Law of 15 December 1980 with regards to the delivery of the Single Permit.
The draft legislation had been presented to the Council of State for review and advice. The Council of State has not yet delivered their advice with regard to the implementation of the single permit. Further details on the implementation are expected end November 2016.

Migrabel is following up on the directive’s implementation closely and will provide further updates when available. We remain also available to deliver more detailed guidance on how to better prepare for the upcoming changes.