• Insights

Streamlining single permit applications for foreign workers: recent developments in Belgium

Written by
Claeys & Engels offers reassurance in the full range of human resources matters and fast, efficient and pragmatic legal advice.
Belgium is taking steps to streamline the process and reduce waiting times for applications for the new single permit for foreign workers.

In 2019, the Belgian legal framework for the employment of foreign workers was drastically revised. In order to be able to work in Belgium on a long-term basis, foreign workers must in principle apply for a single permit via the single permit procedure.

In practice, the implementation of this legislation has thrown up a number of problems over the past year. In particular, the long processing times caused a lot of frustration and inconvenience. Recently, a number of administrative measures have been taken to resolve these issues.

The Immigration Office is hiring

The Long-stay Department of the Immigration Office, which is responsible for processing the ‘residence component’ of the single permit application will be reinforced with extra manpower. It is hoped that this measure will lead to the halving of the processing time.

Administrative process to be simplified

Where there is a positive decision, from now on, the Immigration Office will only send one document, namely the decision on the issuing of the single permit (Annex 46 or 47).

Interruption of employment to be avoided

Where an extension of a single permit is requested, from now on, the employee will be able to obtain a provisional residence permit from his or her municipality based on a positive decision from the Region with regard to the ‘work component’. This will permit him or her to work pending the Immigration Office’s final decision.


As of 1 March 2020, all renewal applications in Flanders will have to be made digitally. On the insistence of the social partners, a transparent, modern electronic platform is being developed. This should further simplify the procedure and the exchange of information between all actors involved. This platform is expected to become operational as early as the beginning of 2021. To be continued…

Action point

The processing time for single permit applications should be reduced in the future, which will enable employers in Belgium to employ foreign workers more quickly. Moreover, in the event of a renewal, the employee will be able to continue working in Belgium with a provisional residence permit.