Economic labour migration to be both relaxed and tightened in Flanders

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On 1 May 2024, Flanders changed the rules regarding labour cards and single permits. To work in the region, non-EEA nationals need a single permit or labour card B. Labour card B is for employment for less than 90 days, the single permit for longer periods.

The changes have two objectives:

  • To attract foreign workers for bottleneck occupations and the knowledge economy.
  • To tighten the rules to prevent fraud and abuse.

One important relaxation of the rules is that blue card holders can change employers after 12 months without requiring a new permit. Another is that the minimum annual salary for highly skilled workers has risen from EUR 55,958 to EUR 60,622.

Previous regulations

    Since 1 January 2019, Flemish employers have been able to employ highly and medium skilled workers without consulting the local labour market.

    Four types of vacancies

      1. Highly skilled profiles: Require a certain level of qualification and minimum annual salary. Employers do not have to prove that they cannot find suitable candidates on the local labour market.
      2. Medium skilled positions (limited list of bottleneck occupations): 29 occupations, again employers do not have to prove that they cannot find local candidates.
      3. Broad VDAB (Flemish Department of Employment Agency) list: 241 occupations, vacancy requires a minimum qualification level and must have been published for 9 weeks.
      4. Other vacancies: Sufficient labour available, permits are refused.

      Additional requirements

        • When applying for permits for labour categories 1 and 2 – vacancies for highly and medium skilled profiles – the employer must be able to provide additional proof:
          • A detailed description of the job and the range of tasks;
          • Extra documents (diploma or proof of professional experience) proving the employee’s qualification.
        • Foreigners, except for seasonal workers, must be at least 80% employed.

        New regulations

          • Highly skilled workers must have a minimum qualification level 5.
          • Work permit exemptions have changed, for example for persons engaged in commercial activities and tourism staff.
          • Foreigners with a blue card many come to Belgium for business meetings for up to 90 days without a permit.
          • Single permit holders may additionally do a flexi-job without authorisation.

          These changes are intended both to promote economic growth and to ensure a fair and controlled system for labour migration.

          Our PKF BOFIDI Legal experts will be pleased to help you with more information

          Do you have questions about economic labour migration in Flanders? Then please contact our legal experts.

          This article was written by Leonie Denooze, a specialist in labour and social security law.