You can exercise a self-employed activity in Belgium if you comply with the regulatory obligations and if you can demonstrate the importance of your activity for the region in terms of economic value (for instance job creation, useful investments, innovative character, social or cultural value, etc.).
If you fulfil the conditions, you will be issued a long stay visa type D, a professional card and a residence permit.
Certain categories of foreign nationals are exempted from the requirement to hold a professional card.
Where and how to apply
To obtain a D visa to travel to Belgium, you need to submit an application containing all required documents (cf. ‘Documents required’) to the Belgian diplomatic or consular post of your place of residence.
The authorities take your fingerprints and a digital photo.
You can check the status of your visa application online by entering your reference number and the location of the diplomatic or consular post.
To apply for a long-term visa (D visa), you need to submit:
After your arrival in Belgium, you need to register at the municipality of your place of residence within 8 working days. The municipality issues a residence permit for a limited period of time (A-card).
Duration of validity of permit
The residence permit for students is valid for a period of up to one academic year + one month. The permit is renewable.
Conditions for renewal
You need to apply for renewal to the municipality of your place of residence at the latest 15 days before your residence permit expires.
You have made sufficient study progress as a graduate or bachelor student if you obtain a total of 45 credits in the first two years and 45 credits for each subsequent year. As a Master’s student, you need to obtain a total of 60 credits in the first two years and 60 credits for each subsequent year.
If your application for a long stay visa has been rejected by the Immigration Office, you can lodge an appeal against this decision before the Council for Alien Law Litigation (CALL) within 30 days after you received the decision.
Employment during studies
You can work up to 20 hours a week, provided your work does not interfere with your studies (and without limit during school holidays).
Stay and employment after studies
Change of status
If your personal situation or purpose of stay changes during your legal stay in Belgium, you can apply for most other statuses.
Your family members have a right to stay in Belgium if they meet the conditions for family reunification.
As a student, you do not qualify for EU long-term resident status. You can apply for EU long-term resident status on the basis of another status after 5 years of uninterrupted legal stay in Belgium (and provided you have sufficient, regular and stable means of subsistence and health insurance). In this case, your previous study period in Belgium is taken into account at 50%.
Please note that Directive (EU) 2016/801 has not yet been fully transposed into national law. At this moment there are no specific provisions regarding mobility of students (with the exception of the Erasmus+ programme).