Upcoming changes to affect foreign residents: integration agreements, new levies on foreigners

  • Belgium
  • 02/14/2017
  • Berry Appleman & Leiden LLP

What is the change? Belgium recently announced changes coming into effect in the near future that will affect foreign residents.

What does the change mean? A law requiring foreign resident applicants to undertake social integration efforts and sign a “newcomers statement” has been delayed from Jan. 26 to Feb. 18, an existing “administrative cost” levy on foreign residents will increase from the current amount, and a new law authorizes municipalities to charge a similar type of levy on foreign residents renewing or extending their permits.

  • Implementation time frame: February 2017/near future.
  • Visas/permits affected: Resident permits.
  • Who is affected: Foreign resident applicants in Belgium.
  • Business impact: The increase in the levy on foreigners and introduction of a similar levy at the municipal level will increase costs for foreign resident applicants.

Background: A law requiring foreigners staying in Belgium for longer than three months to sign a “newcomers statement” and submit to an audit of their efforts to integrate into Belgian society was originally passed with an implementation date of Jan. 26. The effective date has now been delayed until Feb. 18. The integration obligation will be imposed on all residence applications filed on and after Feb. 18. The “newcomers statement” text has not been confirmed, but is expected in coming weeks and months. Implementing guidelines are also expected to clarify whether the requirements apply only to first-time applicants or also to renewal applicants.
The Belgian government has decided to increase a mandatory levy on foreigners who are first-time residency applicants to €350 for work-permit holders (from the current levy of €215) and to €200 for their family members (from the current levy of €160). Several categories are exempt, including EEA and Swiss nationals and their family members. The increase has not yet taken effect, but is expected in coming weeks.

A new law that took effect Monday authorizes municipalities to charge a similar levy on foreign residents applying to renew or extend their permits to cover the administrative costs borne by municipalities in adjudicating and issuing the permits. The law is expected to be implemented shortly – a decree will confirm which types of permits are covered and how much the levy will be. (It is not expected to exceed €50.)

BAL Analysis: Affected foreign nationals should budget for the new levies and anticipate new requirements of fulfilling integration efforts.
This alert has been provided by the BAL Global Practice group and our network provider located in Belgium. For additional information, please contact your BAL attorney.

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