Asylum seekers will have quicker access to the regular labour market

Auteur: Annemarie Vanderpoorten

In the Infoflash of 15 September 2015 "Asylum seekers and work permits: a few basic rules at a glance" we already mentioned that there were plans to allow asylum seekers quicker access to the labour market.

In the meantime, the regulations relating to the employment of foreign have effectively been amended. This enables asylum seekers who are in an asylum procedure since 9 November 2015 to enter the regular labour market already after 4 months instead of 6 months.

The Royal Decree stipulates that this amendment was motivated by the fact that the asylum crisis by its nature and scale requires the encouragement of the integration of asylum seekers in Belgian society.

A quicker access to a regular employment as a wage-earning worker would contribute to this. Through this, asylum seekers would also be able to sustain their livelihoods quicker and contribute to our society through their work.


To enable the asylum seeker concerned to be employed as a wage-earning worker on the regular labour market, he must dispose of a:

  • document with the date of registration in the municipal population register; and
  • registration certificate (or "orange card"); and

This is a Belgian residence permit for non-EU citizens. Asylum seekers receive this document pending a decision on their permanent residence. In the meantime they are registered in the 'waiting register'.

  • "C" work permit

With a "C" work permit, foreign nationals are given access to the Belgian labour market provided that they have submitted an asylum application and have not received notification of the decision of the Commissioner General for Refugees and Stateless Persons (CGVS) four months (formerly six months) after submitting their application for asylum.

They can work with the "C" work permit provided that no decision has been notified by the CGVS or the Council for Foreign Disputes.

Holders of a "C" work permit are eligible for any salaried employment in the service of any employer.

The validity of the "C" work permit is always clearly stated on the card. The permit has a maximum period of validity of 12 months, although the period is also dependent on the duration of the right to stay in Belgium

If the asylum seeker receives a negative decision regarding his case during the waiting period, he or she is will of course no longer qualify for a "C" work permit.

Employer’s obligations

An employer can immediately hire an asylum seeker who disposes of the above required documents. He does not need to fulfil any special additional administrative obligations. However, the employer must verify whether the extension of the "C" work permit and the residence permit was requested in a timely manner and if it was obtained.

In addition, the employer must employ the asylum seekers under the same wage and working conditions as the other employees.

Source: The Royal Decree of 29 October 2015 amending article 17 of the Royal Decree of 9 June 1999 on the implementation of the Act of 30 April 1999 relating to the employment of foreign workers, Belgian Official Gazette 9 November 2015


Auteur: Annemarie Vanderpoorten