Belgium will soon have a digital/electronic platform in order to facilitate information gathering/exchange by/between the authorities, involved in single permit processing. These authorities are the 3 regions (Brussels, Flanders, and Wallonia), the federal immigration office, foreign consular posts, municipalities, and the national social security office.
The cooperation agreement dated 5 March 2021, that took effect on 16 March 2021, has created the legal framework for the “Uniek Loket” (Single Counter) “Working in Belgium”. The purpose of this platform is to reduce the administrative workload, to facilitate information sharing and data exchange, and to reduce the processing time for applications.
At present, single permit applications and other applications (e.g. work permits, professional cards, …) must be submitted by registered mail or by email depending on the competent region. With this new digital one-stop shop, applicants will be able to submit applications online and also consult the status of the applications via this electronic counter.
The practical roll-out of the digital platform “Working in Belgium” is planned in 3 phases. The cooperation agreement dated 5 March 2021 relates to phases 1 and 2 and implements the specific cooperation of the authorities in the framework of the single permit process within the platform, and it contains specific provisions regarding information sharing/exchange and data processing in the framework of the single permit process. The further technical and organisational aspects for information exchange and data sharing will be laid down in a protocol agreement.
The phases can be summarized as follows:
- Phase 1 : all single permit applications (first applications and renewals) will be processed via the digital platform “Working in Belgium”, where the applicant can consult his file => test phase probably as of April 2021; operational after test phase;
- Phase 2: integrated electronic exchange between the platform and the authorities concerned => planning: operational end June 2021;
- Phase 3 : extension of the scope of applications via “Working in Belgium” to work permits, professional cards and single permits for indefinite duration => anticipated timing: 2022.