4 March 2022
Belgium is part of the Schengen area which means that there is a free movement of people. You can easily cross the borders by train, car, plane or feet without being subject to border checks.
The Schengen Area also provides a single set of rules that all countries at the external borders must apply to those who enter the Schengen area for a short period of time (up to 90 days).
The European Union has recently granted a temporary protection status to Ukrainian refugees.
All Ukrainian people are allowed to enter Belgium with a valid biometric passport. They do not need a visa or any additional documents. The citizens that do not have a valid biometric passport, but that have received a visa for Belgium instead, can also obtain an extension of their authorized stay up to a maximum of 180 days.
Temporary protection: As from Monday 7 March 2022 Ukrainian people can present themselves with their identity documents at the registration center (Boulevard de Waterloo 121, 1000 Brussels), to apply for temporary protection. This only applies for Ukrainians residing in Ukraine as well as to third country nationals or stateless persons enjoying protection in Ukraine and their family members. They need (1) to come in person and (2) bring their identity documents. A temporary protection certificate is issued if the conditions are met and with this document the municipal administration of their place of residence can issue a A card that is valid for one year.
Short stay (up to 90 days): If Ukrainian people have a valid biometric passport, they do not need a visa in order to be able to stay for 90 days in Belgium. This means that they can reside legally in our country during this period, and therefore don’t have to apply for asylum. In anticipation of the concrete details on the temporary protection status, Belgium advises Ukrainian nationals to stay with family and friends in our country if possible.
The Belgian immigration department recommends the Ukrainians to report the municipality where they are staying after their arrival in Belgium (not necessary if they stay in a hospital or hotel). They will then obtain a ‘declaration of arrival’. This document is used to check if they stay longer than 90 days. During a short stay, the Ukrainians are not allowed to work, they do not have social support and they don’t joint the public health insurance system. It is therefore advisable to have a travel insurance that cover the necessary medical expenses.
Extension of the short stay: The 90-days period can be extended up to a maximum of 180 days if the situation in Ukraine does not allow for a safe return at the end of the 90 days. The Ukrainians must in that case ask the municipality of their residence to extend their short stay. They must prove that they have travel medical insurance valid for the duration of their stay in Belgium.
The Belgian immigration office stresses that the Ukrainian citizens that are or have legally arrived in Belgium should not worry if they stay longer that the authorized stay, due to the situation in their country. They should however go, as soon as possible, to the municipal administration of their place of residence to declare their arrival or request to extend their stay in Belgium.
Documents needed to apply for a short stay: (1) a copy of the passport, which is still valid for at least three months after the application in Belgium, (2) a copy of the ‘declaration of arrival’, (3) proof that you have a travel insurance that cover the necessary medical expenses.
Ukrainian people that have asked for the temporary protection, they can stay in Belgium for one year without having to seek for asylum. This protection can me extended up to three years.
For Ukrainian people who have not left the country yet, and wish to come to Belgium for a longer period of time (for work or family reunification), they have to obtain a D visa. This is the visa for national long-stay. As the Belgian Embassy is closed in Kiev, they have to apply for this visa at the Belgian Consulate General in Warsaw (Poland), Medyka (Poland), Kosice (Slovakia), Suceava (Romania) or in Chisinau (Moldavia). They can also contact the Foreign Affairs call centre: +32 (0)2 501 40 00.
<For Ukrainian people who have already left the county and that are already in Belgium (the Schengen area), they can apply for a residence permit directly at the municipal administration of their place of residence in Belgium. The conditions for granting this permit for a short stay are maintained. However, the Immigration Office stresses that if the applicant cannot present the official documents, they will look at individual alternatives.<
For Ukrainian people who have already left the county and that are in a country that is not part of the Schengen area, they can contact the Belgian Embassy or consulate responsible for that country.
For Ukrainian people who are legally residing in Belgium (for a limited period of time), and that do no longer meet the necessary requirements for obtaining a renewal of their residence card (Card A), they can still obtain an extension of their authorized stay. This extension is 90 days starting the last day of their original stay. This extension can be renewed up to a maximum of 180 days.
The Belgian rail service provider (SNCB) joins a solidarity initiative together with other European railway companies. By doing so, they want to make the journey of the Ukrainian people as smooth and safe as possible. The railway company of Germany (Deutsche Bahn – DB), offers a special “Helpukraine” ticket to refugees from Ukraine that allows them to travel for free though Germany to their destination. This ticket is also valid in Belgium as their destination can also be in or passing through Belgium. All Belgian trains, as well as cross-border trains to or from Germany, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and France, are free of charge. The Ukrainian people need to show their DB “Helpukraine” ticket as well as their passport or identity card. The timetables of all trains in Belgium may be found on the following link: https://www.belgiantrain.be/en
There are also some private initiatives that provide free busses. Unfortunately these initiatives are not available on a website or facebook.
If Ukrainian people would come by car, there are no vignettes required in Belgium.
The Belgian Federal Agency for the Reception of Asylum Seekers (hereafter “Fedasil”) advises the Ukrainian people to stay with friends or family in Belgium, while waiting for the concrete details of the temporary protection. For those who have no place to stay, a crisis accommodation can be provided for one of two nights. Hereafter the local authorities will try to find temporary accommodation (hotels, empty houses, place in the homes of citizens, etc).
We assume that the multiple private initiatives will soon be coordinated with the local authorities.
The Ukrainians that come to Belgium (for a short stay) must have a health insurance that cover the necessary medical expenses.
According to the information currently available, Ukrainian people with this temporary protection status will be registered in the register of foreigners and will receive an A residence permit (A card). They will also enjoy all rights attached to it, such as affiliation to the public health insurance in Belgium, the right to an equivalent living wage, the right to work, and so on. The concrete details on the health care are not decided yet.
Ukrainians applying for the ‘short stay’ are not allowed to work in Belgium.
Ukrainians seeking for the temporary protection are able to work in Belgium. The concrete details are not decided yet.
We advise to look at the websites https://www.jobat.be/en, https://www.vdab.be/english/belgie.shtml#jobs and https://be.indeed.com/. These are the most widely known online job search portals in Belgium.
The minimum gross monthly salary in the case of a full-time job is currently in the amount of EUR 1.691,40 (this amount should be reduced by the taxes depending on the personal situation). This amount is applicable for people of at least 18 years old, working 38 hours a week.
Process of official recognition of Ukrainian diploma or professional qualification is carried out by National Academic Recognition Information Centre (NARIC).
Like all children in Belgium, children seeking for asylum are subject to compulsory education. Children up to the age of 12 attend primary schools close to where they stay and, if possible, join regular classes. Children that go to secondary school usually first follow a specific education for a while where they receive intensive language lessons and then switch to regular education.
General information (in Dutch) can be found here: https://www.agii.be/thema/gelijke-onderwijskansen/onderwijs-minderjarige-nieuwkomers#:~:text=Er%20is%20een%20recht%20op,probleem%20inschrijven%20in%20een%20school.
Marie-Dominique Van de Gucht – Associate (+32 2 320 22 53, email@example.com)
Marie Michaud-Nérard – Partner (+32 2 320 22 57, firstname.lastname@example.org)