You are an employer
As a Belgian or foreign company, you can, under certain conditions, hire a non-European foreign national (from outside the European Economic Area, which includes the different countries of the European Union along with Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Switzerland), or second a non-European national to come and work in Belgium
This authorisation is granted to some categories of workers. For each of these categories, there are conditions and a specific procedure. This authorisation is issued by the Direction of Employment and Work Permits of the Public Service of Wallonia.
A permit : why and for who?
Do you want to hire a foreign worker in Wallonia?
An employer in Belgium who wants to hire a non-European national in their company.
An employer based abroad who is asking one of their workers to provide services in Belgium.
As an employer, you can hire foreign workers to fill certain positions in your company.
Depending on the position held, the worker's country of origin and the contract term, the procedure for obtaining the necessary documentation will be different.
The work permit application is primarily an application for economic migration. A person is needed to fill the position, but cannot be found in the local labour market and in principle, this is unrelated to the person's identity. Positions which concern low-skilled jobs are generally rejected because there are already many of these profiles on the local labour market. Neither can the application itself or the proposed person relate to a position that needs to be filled. Applications that are made for family reunification, with a person from the same community, to resolve a residence situation or to employ a person under conditions that are inferior to those of the Belgian market, will be refused.
Is a permit always needed?
In some cases, you don’t need to apply for a work permit from the Region because the foreign national is exempt from applying a work permit.
This depends on the worker's residence situation and the duration of the work in Belgium.
Who should make the application?
- As the employer, you must submit the application. You must be established in Belgium.
- Your Belgian representative can also submit an application for you if you are not an employer established in Belgium. This is a natural person who has their principal residence in Belgium and who acts on your behalf. If you are established outside Belgium, only this natural person is authorised to act. Please note: They must have a mandate. You can create your mandate using the Mahis online service.
Different kinds of permit
There are different kinds of permit that offer specific rights and which also concern different categories of workers.
►Discover the characteristics of the different permits:
How much does it cost?
Hiring a foreign worker doesn’t cost any less than hiring a Belgian worker: workers must be hired according to the working conditions applicable in Belgium (laws and joint committees).
Your social secretariat can help you to carry out a simulation.
Fees range from 0 to 363 euros. This charge depends on the situation. Click here for more information on the fee.
You must comply with the minimum annual gross amounts by position. You must pay your worker more than these amounts. These amounts are indexed annually and vary depending on the type of worker. Click here to view the 2022 salary thresholds.
You must comply with the scales defined in the joint committees (scales for each type of position).
Please note: There is a guaranteed average monthly minimum income which applies to workers who do not fall under any joint committee. This must be reached, even in the event of part-time employment. For more information, visit the website of the Federal Public Service Employment, Labour and Social Dialogue.
The agreed gross salary must be stated in the employment contract or in the secondment letter when applying for the employment authorisation.
The salary is related to the work performed. The employer, the worker and the administration know the salary before the worker takes up their position. It corresponds to the benefits and allowances related to the collective labour agreements (Law of 5 December 1968 on collective labour agreements and joint committees, to the exclusion of contributions to supplementary occupational pension schemes).
Allowances directly related to the secondment are not included in the remuneration (travel, accommodation and subsistence expenses).
When to apply?
Your worker doesn’t have a residence permit in Belgium yet ? He must obtain his work permit before arriving in Belgium.
Your worker already have a residence permit in Belgium but this permis doesn’t authorize him to work ? He must obtain his work permit before starting work.
Most often, the request must be made before the worker’s arrival on Belgian territory.
There are some exceptions for people who already legally stay in Belgium ( authorized stay for more than 90 days) :
People legally present in Belgium for other reasons than work (ex: students)
Highly qualified workers
Workers who already have a work permit in another Region, in the Brussel-Capital Region for example
Workers applying for a permit extension
How long does it take to receive the permits?
It takes a while to analyse an application in full. Be aware of this! The time taken depends on the checks that need to be made, but also the completeness of the application. The application for a single permit requires more time than the application for a type B permit, because the procedure includes "residence" formalities.
A fixed-term work permit with a complete application can take between 1 and 2 months but this can double if your application is incomplete.
If you want to apply to renew a fixed-term work permit or make an application for an unlimited work permit, do so:
- At least 2 months and at most 1 month before the current type B permit expires.
- At least 3 months, at most 2 months before the current single permit expires.
In all cases, check that you have completed all the necessary information.
If the application is complete, it can take up to 4 months to obtain the authorisation. Most of the time, it takes around a month.
How long is my worker's permit?
The length of the permit depends on the duration set out in the employment contract and the type of authorisation received.
The permit can be extended if the employment contract is extended or if the worker is on a permanent contract. You must then apply for a renewal. After several renewals and under certain conditions, the worker can obtain an unlimited work permit.
Please note: Some jobs are time limited, even after several extensions:
Au pairs: 1 year maximum
Specialist technicians: 6 months maximum
Seasonal workers: 5 months maximum
What are my obligations as an employer?
When you hire a foreign worker, you have obligations. You must:
Hire the foreign worker under the same conditions as a Belgian worker employed in a comparable job and insure the worker in terms of health insurance and work accidents;
Retain a copy of the work permit and the residence permit (which is a single document in the case of the single permit) of the foreign worker;
Not terminate the contract before its term (except for serious reasons)
Pay the travel costs from the worker's place of residence to the place of work (unless the worker is already settled in Belgium)
In some cases and to ensure the worker's security, you must, when the worker cannot yet benefit from it:
Pay compensation in the event of involuntary unemployment if the worker cannot yet benefit from unemployment insurance
Provide medical and pharmaceutical care and hospitalisation if the worker cannot benefit from the health and disability insurance
In some cases, you will also have to pay the worker's repatriation costs to their domicile/residence abroad (following an work accident for example).
In all cases, you must declare any changes in the employment conditions to our services: the worker leaves their job, you fire the worker, a change in salary, a change in position, etc.
As with all infringements, failure to comply with the legislation leads to sanctions.
Infringements can range from simple negligence or errors to undeclared work and human trafficking.
This aspect is monitored and controlled by officials at the Public Service of Wallonia and if necessary, the Police services.
Depending on the situation, sanctions can range from a warning to fines or imprisonment, graduated depending on the infringement.