On 11 September 2019, the Belgian Council of State annulled two Royal Decrees implementing the payment of an administrative fee for long term residence authorization applications:
- Royal Decree, dated 16 February 2015, introducing the administrative fee; the initial basic amounts, effective 2 March 2015, were 215 € for an employee and 160 € for the spouse;
- Royal Decree, dated 14 February 2017, increasing the administrative fee: the new basic amounts, effective 1 March 2017, were 350 € for an employee and 200 € for the spouse.
Some background information. The administrative fee, payable when filing a visa D application (national long stay visa) or a local residence application (for residence of more than 3 months), was introduced by the Belgian government to cover the costs related to these applications. Full payment of the administrative fee was/is an admissibility requirement.
The Council of State justified its decision to annul the Royal Decrees, dated 16 February 2015 and 14 February 2017, by stating that the Belgian government could not justify the reasonable link between the amounts of the administrative fee and the costs of the underlying services.
No appeal was filed against other Royal Decrees implementing the administrative fee.
Until now, the exact impact of the 11 September judgments on past and future administrative fee payments was unclear/subject to discussion, and it still is: some comments claim that the still existing, non-annulled, Royal Decrees are unlawful because of the fact that their “predecessors” were annulled.
The recent official position of the Belgian federal immigration office (source = https://dofi.ibz.be/sites/dvzoe/NL/nieuws/Pages/De_bijdrage.aspx; https://dofi.ibz.be/sites/dvzoe/FR/Actualites/Pages/La_redevance.aspx) can be summarized as follows:
- The administrative fee is due for future applications: the current basic amounts are 358 € for an employee and 204 € for the spouse;
- Full reimbursement (215 € for employee, 160 € for spouse) can be asked for amounts paid between 2 March 2015 and 26 June 2016, as well as partial reimbursement (135 € (350-215) for employee, 40 € (200-160) for spouse) for amounts paid between 1 March 2017 and 2 January 2019.
A form, completed and signed, must be returned to the federal immigration office (email address for Dutch form = firstname.lastname@example.org; email address for French form = email@example.com), together with the proof of payment. At present the federal immigration office has provided Dutch and French templates only.