Flanders To Ease Work Permit Requirements for Highly-Skilled Workers, Graduates and Shortage Occupations

  • The situation

    The Flanders Labor Minister has announced a package of changes to ease work permit requirements for highly-skilled workers, graduates and shortage occupations, among others, which are expected to come into effect by January 1, 2019.

    A closer look

    New steps to avoid deportation.
    • Differentiation of the salary thresholds. The salary thresholds for highly-skilled and managerial employees will be aligned with salary levels in
    • Flanders. This is in contrast to the currently applicable fixed salary requirement for any employee in this category.
    • Work authorization validity. Under the new rules, the maximum validity of the work permit would be increased from one year to three years.
      Easier and more flexible work on client sites. A change of work place will no longer always require a new work permit.


    • Job search. A new residence permit type will be created to allow foreign graduates from Flemish higher education institutions to search for a job or start a business in Flanders. This is in line with the EU Students and Researchers Directive.
    • Salary requirements. Salary requirements will be lowered for recent graduates. These changes should make it easier for eligible graduates to work and stay in Belgium.
    • Internship permit. Graduates and students at higher education institutions will more easily qualify for an internship permit at a Belgian company based on simplified and consolidated rules. This is in line with the EU Students and Researchers Directive.
    Shortage occupations
    • Labor market test exemptions. Employees in shortage occupations (specifically mid-level technically-skilled staff) will be exempt from local labor market testing.
    • General removal of international agreement requirement. The new legislation will abolish the general requirement of an international agreement with the foreign employee’s country of origin.

    Looking ahead

    Employers should benefit from streamlined immigration paths for specific categories of foreign nationals that the Flemish region would like to attract. The proposals will be implemented in legislation and policy measures in the coming months. The entire package of measures is expected to take effect by January 1, 2019.