In principle, all foreign employees who are not nationals of a country from the European Economic Area and who intend to work in Belgium need to have a single permit (for both work and residence) that is issued by the competent Belgian regional authority.
To hire a foreign worker, the employer will have to apply for employment authorization and a single permit for that particular foreign worker.
Most of the time, employment authorization is issued only when there are not enough qualified workers on the Belgian labor market to do the job in a satisfactory way within a reasonable period of time.
This condition is generally very difficult to prove. However, in some exceptional cases, the employer does not have to prove such a condition.
There are indeed a number of exceptions to that rule, the most relevant exceptions being :
I. Employing “highly qualified” staff
Highly qualified employees can be defined as those with a higher education diploma, provided that their gross annual remuneration exceeds EUR 43.395 (amount for 2021).
Since September 10, 2012, a “highly qualified worker” may also be entitled to apply for a European Blue Card. Several conditions must be fulfilled for this, including a minimum annual gross salary of EUR 56.111 (amount for 2021).
II. Employing managerial staff
The employer can also hire a person for a managerial position if the gross annual remuneration of this prospective employee will be more than EUR 72.399 (amount for 2021).
In both cases:
- the annual gross salary is calculated the same way as how the indemnity in lieu of notice is calculated. Hence, it includes the basic monthly salary, the end-of-year premium (thirteenth month), the double holiday pay, the variable pay (including holiday pay on it), and all benefits in kind including, but not limited to, meal vouchers, the value of the private use of the company car, and employer contributions to insurance policies.
- The employer (with the help of a lawyer if need be)—and not the prospective worker—must apply for the single permit. If the employer is established abroad, the latter must apply through a local representative such as a Belgian lawyer.