Since 8 October 2007, new categories of foreign workers are exempt from obtaining a category B work permit in order to be employed in Belgium. In addition, the procedure for obtaining such work permit has been simplified for other categories of foreign workers.
A foreign worker can only be employed in Belgium if he holds a work permit, except if he is exempt from this obligation. There are three different types of work permits.
The most common work permit is the so-called category B work permit, which allows the foreign worker concerned to work for a specific employer for a definite period of time (with a maximum of 12 months). There are, however, a number of exemptions, which allow for a foreign worker to be employed without first obtaining a work permit. Since 8 October 2007, this list of exemptions from the obligation to obtain a category B work permit is extended.
In practice, the most important new exemption is the one that applies to foreign workers employed as executives by Belgian headquarters, provided that their annual salary exceeds 56,187 € (in 2007). Since 8 October 2007, foreign workers who travel to Belgium in order to attend congresses, to receive training or to carry out certain services (assembling and installation of goods, urgent maintenance or reparation works) are also entitled to invoke an exemption. Most exemptions are, however, limited in time and are subject to certain conditions.
For some other categories of foreign workers, no exemptions have been introduced, but the procedure for obtaining the category B work permit was simplified.
However, please note that the duty to notify the foreign workers with the National Office for Social Security (the so-called LIMOSA regulation) remains in effect, with some exceptions. Indeed, unfortunately, the exemptions from the obligation to obtain a work permit were not harmonized with the exemptions under the LIMOSA regulation.