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The Belgian job market

An introduction for foreigners



Finding a job in Belgium may not be quite as difficult as the statistics would lead you to believe, high unemployment is endemic. It does take a certain amount of experience, qualifications, some perseverance and more than a little luck.

If you’re a national of a European Union (EU) country, you already have the right to work in Belgium under the EU’s freedom of movement provisions. Once you’ve found a job, you simply register with the appropriate authorities where you’ll be living and a residence permit is automatically granted.

Non-EU nationals without automatic rights to work in Belgium will find it rather more difficult because any potential employer must seek the approval of the local labour or employment office in order to hire a non-EU foreigner.

Foreigners are found in large numbers throughout Belgium, and the numbers are probably much higher than official statistics suggest, as those working for the various international organisations (particularly those in and around Brussels) often aren’t considered as residents.

Belgium reports around 9 per cent foreigners in the general population. As in much of Europe, illegal immigration is considered a major problem, particularly the use of Belgian ports as staging posts for the smuggling of illegal immigrants into the UK is widespread. Like other European countries, Belgium has tightened the immigration laws in recent years, both to protect local citizens’ rights in a period of high unemployment and to discourage trafficking in economic refugees.


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