Belgian Corporate Immigration Update
The Belgian regulations regarding corporate immigration have been updated on a regular basis since 2007.
The Belgian regulations are influenced by European Union (EU) legislation. Citizens from almost all EU/European Economic Area (EEA) Member States (Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom), as well as some of their family members, can now work in Belgium without a work permit on the basis of their citizenship. However, this does not apply to Bulgaria and Romania, which joined the EU on January 1, 2007. Nationals of those two countries still need to obtain a work permit to work in Belgium until December 31, 2011. Until that time, Bulgarian and Romanian citizens can gain easier access to the Belgian labor market if they work in a “labor shortage profession.”
The changes to corporate immigration legislation also reflect the need to meet business needs. For instance, if a foreign employee can be considered to be key personnel or, effective from May 29, 2009, executive-level personnel employed by Belgian headquarters of a multinational company or of a group of companies, he or she will not need a work permit, provided that he or she earns at least 59.460 EUR (amount for 2009) gross on a yearly basis. To qualify as Belgian headquarters, several conditions, linked to tax and corporate law, must be met. This exemption is not limited in time.
Social security is an important aspect of corporate immigration. Belgium has been quite active over the past few years in negotiating and entering into bilateral social security agreements with several countries. One of these countries is India. Belgium and India reached a bilateral agreement on social security on November 3, 2006. The “Agreement of Social Security between the Kingdom of Belgium and the Republic of India” was approved by the Act of February 12, 2009, and was published in the Belgian State Gazette on August 21, 2009. The agreement, which took effect on September 1, 2009, allows a Belgian or Indian employee (i) who is employed by a Belgian or Indian employer, (ii) who pays contributions under the Belgian or Indian legislation, and (iii) who is posted to India or Belgium, to remain subject to the Belgian or Indian legislation regarding social security for employees, provided that the foreseeable duration of the work does not exceed, in principle, 60 months.