Thursday July 21st we celebrated Belgium’s National Day!  Want to celebrate the next national day as a permanent resident or better still citizen, read on…

Belgium

After living in Belgium for more than half a decade, I have grown to love this welfare state, that puts in a lot of effort in taking care of its citizens and as one would expect; non Belgians (especially non-EU) residents however, are not entitled to enjoy some of the benefits (I will zero in on this in subsequent posts). If you can brave the >200 days of rain/cold each year and overcome the language barrier (dutch/french) then you can consider settling in Belgium. Now I share with you four ways to get the Belgian nationality for holders of a residence card B. This list however is not exhaustive; more on this in the days ahead.

  • Huwelijk (Marriage)

Two people choosing to take a single path could really make things easier; get married to a Belgian and you are half way on the road to getting the nationality. This however is not automatic, you must be living together at the time of application. In addition to being married,  you have to:

  • know Dutch/ French at least the minimum of level 1.2,
  • complete the social orientation course,
  • work for at least 11 months.

When you fulfill these conditions, you can table your nationality request at the city hall where you reside, they will in turn demand for a list of documents that will be forwarded to Brussels. Then an investigation will be carried on for +/- 4 months, after which you could get a positive answer from Brussels. About the investigation hmm... you better be ready for some grinding sessions, questions could range from knowing the colour of your spouse’s underwear to stating what side of the bed your spouse sleeps on.

  • Long stay in Belgium

Holders of a resident permit card B residing for 5 years  without a break in Belgium, can also qualify for a Belgian passport. Oh that’s not all;

  • you need to work for at least 22 months,
  • have the language certification level 1.2,
  • follow the social orientation course.
  • Living for 10 years in the country

 I know you will be thinking this is similar to the second, yeah you are right! Living in Belgium for 10 years with the residence card B could make you eligible for the Belgian nationality even if you have not been working but you must show proof of registration with VDAB (an integration agency especially for jobs).

  • Naturalisation

You could go through the naturalisation procedure, for instance if you are a recognised refugee, an athlete or sportsperson who excels in your discipline, Belgian nationality could just be your reward. Also, coming up with an outstanding breakthrough or invention in the science for example, would be a great leap forward to getting a permanent stay in Belgium. Note:

  • You must have had your main place of residence in Belgium for 3 years 
  • For refugees and the ‘stateless’ you need only to have resided in Belgium for 2 years.

Finally, if you are reading this post as a student from a non-EU/EEA country and legally resident in Belgium; the first step towards getting Belgian nationality if you so desire, is to get a permanent job after your studies. On the basis of this employment, you can apply for the residence card B and only after 5 years of continuous residence can you then launch your citizenship application. Living in Belgium as a student for several years, as a general rule will normally not guarantee you a permanent stay nor citizenship. I say normally because to such rules, there may exist exceptions or exemptions. Its left for those interested to find out!!!

Kewan’s Tip: It happens sometimes that even after fulfilling  one or all of the conditions above for nationality, one still get a refusal from Brussels. But no worries when they say dat kan niet (that’s not possible) make use of a lawyer and then dat kan wel (its possible). The procedure sometimes requires a lot of patience remember “No you have already but a YES you can get.

Source: Personal notes from Social orientation course(Inburgering)