The EU Single Permit Directive 2011/98/EU requires the member states to adopt a single combined work and residence permit application procedure, and it needed to be transposed into national legislation by 23 December 2013.
In Belgium, the implementation of the Directive suffered quite some delay. The reason for this is that the residence permit related procedures fall under the legislative power of the federal government, while, since the 6th State reform, the regional governments have the decision-making power over the work permit procedures (and labour market policy).
On 19 November 2015, the European Commission referred Belgium to the EU Court of Justice for failing to transpose the Directive into Belgian legislation. On 20 November 2015, the Council of Ministers approved the first working documents with regard to both the implementation of the Single Permit Directive and the different powers in respect of the decentralisation of the work permit related legislation. On 25 November, the Consultative Committee (Overlegcomité/Comité de Concertation) approved the texts. The next step is the implementation in concrete new legislative documents, both on a federal and a regional level. It is expected this will soon be put in practice.
The new procedure provides that the combined single work and residence permit application will be submitted to the regional work permit authorities, followed by the decision of the Foreigners Office in respect of the right of stay. Once the latter approves the residence related part of the application, the regional authorities approve the work authorisation on the basis of which the applicant can apply for the visa at the Belgian Consulate/Embassy in the home country. Upon arrival in Belgium, the non-EEA employee can obtain the single (work and residence) permit at the town hall of residence.
PwC will further follow up the legislative updates in this respect and keep you up to date.