The Belgian authorities have recently taken a series of measures to speed up the work permit application process.
Last year the authorities introduced a single permit (permis unique in French, gecombineerde vergunning in Dutch) which combines the work and residence permits (managed by two different authorities). This was done to speed things up in the long run but in fact the effect was to dramatically increase the processing time. To address the delays the government has introduced two new measures:
First the ‘office des etrangers’ (OE) will received more staff – they suffer from a permanent shortage of staff which is one of the reasons for the lengthy waiting time.
Two, non-EU nationals who are awaiting a work permit renewal can continue to work as usual as long as the regional migration office has approved the renewal – while waiting for the OE’s approval the commune will give the employee a temporary right to reside in Belgium. Third country nationals who change employer can also work under the same arrangements as long as the regional migration service has approved the new employer application.
The national social security office) is in the process of developing a new online platform which will be operational from the start of 2021. This will speed up the application process considerably as employers will directly file the application into this system. In Flanders this is already up and running (since March 2020.