European blue card

Within the context of Belgian regulations, the European Blue Card (EBC) is a residence permit allowing its holder (under certain conditions) to work and live in the Kingdom of Belgium for a period of more than three months.
 
This unique document includes both the right of residence and the right to work and applies only to high-skilled workers who don't have the nationality of one of the European Economic Area's member states.
 

To be employed by a Belgian employer under the EU Blue Card Scheme, three conditions must be met [1]:
  • the employer must have entered into a permanent employment contract ─ permanent or of at least one year's duration ─ with the foreign worker;
  • the foreign worker must be paid a gross annual salary of at least €51,882 [2];
  • the worker must hold a diploma issued by an educational establishment which is recognised as a higher-education institution [3] by the State in which it is based.
Some categories of people who are nationals of third countries and are highly qualified may not, however, be granted a temporary employment permit or European Blue Card, They included posted workers, long-term residents, seasonal workers, researchers, persons under temporary protection and asylum seekers.
 

[1] Article 15/1, Royal Decree of 9 June 1999
[2] This amount is adjusted each year on January 1.
[3] Any diploma, certificate or other training qualification issued by an authority and attesting to the successful completion of at least three years of higher, post-secondary studies.

There is a dual application procedure for obtaining an EU Blue Card.
  • On the one hand, the foreign national concerned must submit an application for a Blue Card:
    • if they are still in their country of origin, they must apply to the competent consular authorities,
    • if they are already living in Belgium, they must apply to the foreign nationals department of the municipality in which they are resident.
  • At the same time, the employer wishing to recruit the foreign national concerned must first apply for and obtain a temporary employment permit from the Administration of Economy and Employment of the Brussels-Capital Region, if the place of employment is within the Brussels-Capital Region.
It is advisable to submit the two applications at one and the same time.

Temporary employment permit (employer)

Please return the completed form and related documents to the Administration concerned

The Brussels-Capital Regional Administration is competent for people working in the Brussels-Capital Region. The Walloon Regional Administration is competent for those working in the Walloon Region; the Flemish Regional Administration for those working in the Flemish Region; the German-speaking Community Administration for those working in the German-speaking Community area.
 
The file must include:  
  • the application form for a temporary employment permit (in french), duly completed, dated and signed by the employer or his agent [1]. The employer or his agent must in any case be a natural person residing regularly in Belgium;
  • a photocopy of the employment contract (of at least one year's duration) dated and signed by both worker and employer, in accordance with the Law of 3 July 1978;
  • if the worker has not yet arrived in Belgium, a copy of every page of their passport, or, if the worker is already in Belgium, a copy of the document issued by the municipality concerned attesting to their residence status;
  • an authenticated translation [2] of the worker's academic qualification attesting to the successful completion of at least three years' higher, post-secondary studies, issued by an establishment recognised as a higher-education institution in the State where it is based.

[1] Please attach the power of attorney.
[2] The degree needs to be legalized by the Belgian diplomatic or consular services of the issuing country. Then the degree must be translated in Dutch, French or German by a sworn translator, either in the country that issued the degree, either in Belgium.
 
If the file is complete and all the conditions for the granting of a permit fulfilled, a temporary permit will be issued within thirty days. The Administration will send the temporary employment permit to the employer, who must forward a copy of it to the worker.
 
If the file is incomplete or incorrect, the competent regional authority will ask the applicant for additional information with regard to the missing or incorrect details. The thirty-day period for a decision runs from the date on which the file is completed.
 
The regional administration will directly notify the Immigration Office as to whether a temporary employment permit has been granted or refused. The Immigration Office's decision to issue or not issue an EU Blue Card depends upon the decision of the competent regional authority.
 
The temporary employment permit automatically loses its validity:
  • as soon as the worker obtains their EU Blue Card,
  • if the worker fails to apply to the Immigration Office for an EU Blue Card within 90 days of the issue of the temporary employment permit,
  • if he Immigration Office refuses to grant the worker an EU Blue Card, from the date of notification of the refusal.

EU Blue Card (worker)

The worker has a maximum of 90 days from the issue of the temporary employment permit to apply to the Immigration Office for an EU Blue Card.
 
On instructions from the Immigration Office, the Population Department of the municipality concerned will issue the EU Blue Card to the worker. An EU Blue Card is issued for a period of 13 months in the first instance, and is renewable.

Start of employment

Employment may begin once the following cumulative conditions are met:
  • the worker is in possession of their copy of the temporary employment permit, and
  • the worker is legally resident in Belgium (as established by a CIRE of limited duration or electronic card A, or D – B29 visa, or a copy of the decision made by the Immigration Office authorising the worker to reside in Belgium in accordance with Article 61/27, §§2 and 3 of the Law of 15 December 1980 governing residence), and
  • the worker has submitted an application for an EU Blue Card (made up using Annex 41b).

Family members of a Blue Card holder

It is possible to apply for an employment permit linked to a type-B work permit.

First renewal

Two months before the EU Blue Card expires, the employer must submit a new application for a temporary employment permit to the competent regional administration. The dossier must include the following documents:
  • the application form for a temporary employment permit (in french) submitted as part of the procedure whereby the foreign worker was granted their existing EU Blue Card;
  • a copy of the worker's still valid EU Blue Card;
  • a copy of the employment contract;
  • a copy of their pay slips for the period of employment so far covered by the temporary employment permit and/or the EU Blue Card.
In parallel, the worker must submit a fresh application for a Blue Card to the municipal administration concerned between 45 and 30 days before the expiry date of their first European Blue Card.
Subject to the employer's obtaining a new temporary employment permit, the worker's EU Blue Card should normally be renewed, initially for a further 13 months.

Second renewal

When the time comes for a second renewal, provided that the worker has been effectively employed for two years under the EU Blue Card Scheme, no further temporary employment permit is required.
Between 45 and 30 days before the expiry of their second EU Blue Card, the worker must submit a new application for an EU Blue Card to the municipal administration concerned, with evidence that they fulfil all the necessary conditions. The municipal administration will then issue them with an EU Blue Card valid for 3 years.

Long-term resident status

After 5 years' employment under the EU Blue Card Scheme, the worker may normally apply for long-term resident status and obtain an electronic card, referred to as "Long-term foreign resident card-EC-former European Blue Card holder" (electronic card "D").

During the first two years of the employment of a worker covered by a temporary employment permit or EU Blue Card, the employer is required to:
  • obtain a new temporary employment permit prior to making any substantial changes  to the terms of employment referred to in Article 15/1 of the Royal Decree of 9 June 1999,
  • inform the competent regional administration if the employment contract is terminated. [1]
If all the conditions (existence of an employment contract, amount of salary, suitable academic qualification) are no longer met:
  • during the period of validity of the temporary permit: the regional administration will withdraw the temporary employment permit;
  • during the period of validity of the EU Blue Card: the competent regional administration will notify the Immigration Office. The Immigration Office will withdraw the EU Blue Card.
 

Contact Contact

Mail

Brussels Economy and Employment
Direction de la Migration économique
Bd du Jardin Botanique, 20
1035 Brussels
E Contact form
T +32 (0)2 204 13 99

Counters, Work permits

CCN - Brussels-North station
Rue du Progrès 80
1030 Brussels
open Monday to Friday from 8.45 am to 11.45 am
 
 

Federal, Flanders, Wallonia

Competent region Competent region

This section applies to employees who work in the Brussels-Capital Region (type-B permit of blue card) or who reside in the Brussels-Capital Region (type-A permit or type-C permit).

Remuneration Remuneration

The annual gross salary must amount to at least €52.978 to be eligible for the European blue card.