How do you get a Belgian Blue Card for Permanent Residency? In September of 2012, Belgium finally introduced their version of the European Blue Card. As with every country in the EU, the Belgian implementation of the Blue Card is unique, and many Websites appear to be reporting incorrect information. I’ve gone to the French language Belgian government website for Service public fédéral Emploi, Travail, et Concertation social, or their “Employment, Labour, and Social Services” website.

The Requirements

 the Belgian government’s detailed explanation of their Blue Card laws.

The basic qualifications for the Blue Card are relatively standard. You must have:

  • a higher education degree is lasting and takes at least three years to obtain.
  • An indefinite employment contract.
  • a salary of €49,995 per year (adjusted annually)
  • a valid travel document (presumably a passport, but this is unclear)
  • health insurance other than what your employer provides

You must also not be considered a threat to the public or national security.

Interestingly, there are several ways to be denied the Blue Card. First, the Belgian government imposes a labour test: you can’t take the job if they feel qualified Belgians are available (similar to the Austrian Blue Card). Second, the employer must not have been previously penalised for hiring illegal workers. Third, and most interestingly, if your position is considered in a sector in short supply in your home country, you can be denied.

Africas Brain Drain

The last provision is fascinating. African countries were extremely upset with the European Blue Card because they were worried about the “brain drain” of their highly skilled workers fleeing to Europe, which is not entirely unreasonable. From the Web site (emphasis mine):

For developing countries, the most important negative effect of voluntary migration to developed countries (e.g. in Europe) is the brain drain caused by the loss of highly skilled workers. Currently, more than 25% of highly skilled workers from African countries such as Mozambique, Ghana, Kenya and Uganda live in developed countries. Figures for the Caribbean and Pacific are as high as 70%. This brain drain has severe repercussions on the labour market in the migrants countries of origin, where it impacts negatively on vital sectors such as education and health, and reduces those countries capacity to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) one of the priorities of the EUs development policy.

Belgium has cut through a dilemma that many countries have been facing: how to appease locals who are worried about immigration because this provision primarily impacts many African and Asian immigrants. It keeps developing nations happy because Belgium can say, “we’re listening to your concerns”, but still import skilled workers. Belgium has a very effective throttle if Blue Card immigration becomes politically problematic.