Belgium new immigration policy and salary requirements

Belgium’s New Immigration Policies: Minimum Salary Requirement

April 12, 2024 | xpath.global

Belgium, particularly the Flanders Region, is bracing for significant modifications in its immigration policy that will primarily affect foreign workers. The changes, scheduled to commence on May 1, 2024, are designed to prioritize Belgian and European employees while imposing stricter conditions for foreign nationals seeking employment in the region.

Concentric Model of Labor Movement

The revamped policies aim to uphold the government’s concentric model of labor migration. Notable changes include:

  • • Expanded work permit exemptions
  • • Restrictions on the Shortage Occupation and Labor Market testing frameworks
  • • Relaxed educational qualification requirements for EU Blue Card holders and transferees.

Work Permit Exemptions

The reform involves the extension of work permit exemptions. This alteration permits various business-related activities such as participation in conferences, negotiation of business agreements, and involvement in tourism-related activities under a business visitor status, thereby eliminating the necessity for a work permit.

Employers, however, must ensure that their employees do not overstay the stipulated rule of 90 days within any 180-day period.

The following activities will now fall under business visitor status:

  1. • Participation in conferences, seminars, business meetings, trade fairs, and exhibitions.
  2. • Negotiation of business agreements.
  3. • Involvement in sales, marketing, internal, and customer audits.
  4. • Exploration of business opportunities.
  5. • Attendance or conduct of training sessions.
  6. • Activities related to tourism.
  7. • Translation and interpretation services.

Skilled Shortage Occupations

For medium-skilled shortage occupations in Belgium, employers must now provide documentation of the applicants’ skills, experience, and qualifications, which will be assessed by the Regional Employment Ministry, potentially prolonging the internal administrative process. The labor market test process has also seen stricter rules implemented:

  • Job vacancies must now be published for a minimum of nine weeks within the four months preceding the application.
  • Vacancies can only be advertised for jobs listed as shortage occupations by VDAB (the Flemish Employment and Vocational Training Service).

To summarize the key changes:

Documentation Requirements: Employers hiring for medium-skilled shortage occupations must submit documentation detailing the applicant’s qualifications, skills, and experience for assessment by the Regional Employment Ministry.

Job Vacancy Advertisement Period: Vacancies must be advertised for at least 9 weeks within the 4 months prior to the application.

Shortage Occupation Listing: Job vacancies can only be advertised for roles designated as shortage occupations by VDAB.

These stricter rules and additional documentation requirements aim to prioritize local and European talent for available job opportunities before considering foreign nationals. The changes signify Belgium’s efforts to balance its labor market needs with the protection of domestic employment opportunities.

Labor Market Testing

Belgium has implemented stringent labor market testing requirements to prioritize local and European Union (EU) employees over foreign nationals. The key aspects of these new regulations are:

Prioritization of Local and EU Talent: Priority will be given to Belgian and European employees, with the entry of foreign nationals into the workforce being allowed only after careful consideration of local and regional labor markets.

Mandatory Job Advertising Period: Employers must advertise job vacancies for at least 9 weeks within the 4 months preceding the application for a work permit. This extended advertising period aims to ensure that opportunities are thoroughly explored within the local and regional labor pools before considering foreign candidates.

Shortage Occupation Listing: Job vacancies can only be advertised for roles designated as shortage occupations by VDAB (the Flemish Employment and Vocational Training Service). This measure ensures that foreign workers are only considered for positions where there is a genuine shortage of qualified local or EU candidates.

Documentation Requirements: For medium-skilled shortage occupations, employers must provide comprehensive documentation detailing the applicant’s qualifications, skills, and experience. This documentation will be assessed by the Regional Employment Ministry, potentially prolonging the administrative process.

These stringent labor market testing requirements reflect Belgium’s commitment to safeguarding employment opportunities for its domestic workforce and prioritizing the integration of local and EU talent into the labor market.

EU Blue Card Holders

The EU Blue Card scheme allows highly qualified non-EEA nationals to work and reside in Belgium, subject to specific requirements and salary thresholds. Here are the key points regarding EU Blue Card holders in Belgium:

Minimum Salary Requirement: The salary requirement for obtaining an EU Blue Card has been increased to 130% of the average income, equating to an annual taxable salary of EUR 60,621 for 2024. The minimum salary thresholds for 2023 are:

    • • Brussels Region: €60,998
    • • Walloon Region: €60,998
    • • Flemish Region: €55,181

Academic Qualifications: To be eligible for the EU Blue Card, the applicant must have a higher education degree that requires at least 3 years of study.

Professional Experience Substitution: For managerial or specialist roles in the IT sector, EU Blue Card applicants can substitute academic credentials with at least three years of relevant professional experience gained within the past seven years.

Employment Contract Duration: The employment contract must be for at least 1 year to qualify for the EU Blue Card in Belgium.

Changing Employers: EU Blue Card holders will find it easier to change employers. Notification to the Regional Employment Ministry within the first 12 months, and no immigration formalities, however, minimum salary criteria are met.

Validity : The standard period of validity for an EU Blue Card in Belgium is 1 to 3 years. This depends on the duration of the employment contract.

Conclusion

The changes will reshape the immigration landscape of Belgium, particularly for foreign workers. While some may encounter increased challenges in securing employment, others may find new opportunities opening up. Regardless, the impact of these changes will unfold over time. It remains important for prospective employees and employers alike to stay informed and adapt accordingly. To manage your immigration process efficiently as an HR for your employee utilize xpath.global’s case management system.

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