Corrective measures taken by authorities covering stay and employment in Belgium

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EY Belgium Tax

31 Mar 2020
Subject Tax alert
Categories Covid-19
Jurisdictions Belgium

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The Covid-19 outbreak and the protective measures which are taken nationwide have a significant impact on our daily lives. These measures, and in particular travel restrictions, affect third country nationals in Belgium as they can be forced to prolong their stay in Belgium, or can become temporarily unemployed with substantial impact on their salary. In response, the authorities introduced corrective measures to tackle some of these inconveniences.

Temporary extension of residence and admission to work

Third country nationals not being able to return home in time due to the covid-19 measures can request an extension of their authorization of stay. A temporary declaration of arrival will be issued by the municipality (or even via the immigration office) upon presentation (via e-mail) of a limited number of documents.

Individuals in the possession of this declaration of arrival can obtain a temporary work permit and authorization which is limited to the validity of the said declaration.

When a third country national will remain in Belgium for a period longer than three months, a single permit extension should be requested. Once the regional authorities approve the single permit, the work can continue or be resumed.

Salary threshold correction due to temporary unemployment

Many third country nationals in Belgium are now confronted with temporary unemployment for economic reasons, force majeure, unpaid leave and others, impacting the obligatory immigration salary thresholds that should be met for certain categories of employees (e.g. highly-skilled workers, managerial staff). As this concerns involuntary suspensions, these periods will not be considered for the calculation of the annual immigration salary threshold.

The Flemish region will apply the above regardless of whether the person concerned receives an unemployment benefit. The Brussels region makes reference to a clear motivation at the time of the renewal application or annual salary review, however, indicating they will be flexible with regard to the annual salary thresholds bearing in mind the exceptional situation. Supporting documents (temporary unemployment certificate) can of course be added.

The authorities of the Walloon region confirmed that their government is working on the covid-19 measures, and that they will indeed be similar to these of the Brussels and Flemish region.

Administrative measures

All regional authorities have introduced an electronic procedure and set up a specific e-mail account to lodge new applications. All files will thus be handled electronically.

The Flemish authorities even grant additional delays for delivery of documents and will not declare incomplete applications inadmissible. Files will not be closed but will await delivery of the missing documents.

What’s next

We continue our contacts with the authorities and update you on any future measures taken by the federal and regional authorities.