Following the Russian military offensive in Ukraine, many Ukrainians are fleeing to neighboring countries including Belgium. This of course raises questions regarding the position of these Ukrainians who recently arrived in Belgium or Ukrainians who already have been staying in Belgium for a while. Even more since Ukraine is not (yet) a member of the European Union, implying that their residents need in principle a single/work permit to stay and work in Belgium.
The Federal immigration office already confirmed that “Immigration Office will examine the residence applications of these people with great care. Therefore, Ukrainians in Belgium should not worry if their residence permit expires in the next few weeks.”
Hereinunder, we have briefly outlined the latest guidelines from the Belgian federal immigration office (https://dofi.ibz.be/en/themes/ukraine).
- Temporary protection status for Ukrainian citizens
A temporary protection status for Ukrainian citizens has been on the table within the European Union. A European directive has been transposed into Belgian law to provide for minimum standards for granting temporary protection in the event of a mass influx of displaced persons on the territory of the European Union.
In practice this means that as of Monday 7 March 2022, Ukrainian nationals can present themselves at the registration center in Brussels (121 Boulevard de Waterloo) with their identity documents to apply for temporary protection. This applies to Ukrainian nationals residing in Ukraine as well as third country nationals or stateless persons enjoying protection in Ukraine and their family members.
After the registration is carried out, a temporary protection certificate will be issued if the conditions for granting temporary protection are fulfilled. The municipal administration of the place of residence can afterwards issue an A card valid for one year. It should be noted that if the applicant already has a residence permit in Belgium or a declaration of arrival issued by the local authority, their presence on Belgian territory is covered.
- Short stay in Belgium (< 90 days)
Ukrainian biometric passport holders are exempted of a visa for short stay (max. 90 days) in Belgium. If the situation in Ukraine does not allow for a safe return at the end of the 90 days, these 90 days period can be extended up to a maximum of 180 days. This extension is also possible for those who do not hold a biometric passport but who have received a visa for Belgium.
The federal immigration office reassures “Ukrainian citizens who are, or have arrived, legally in Belgium and who, due to the situation in their country, stay longer than the authorized stay” but they “are advised to go immediately to the municipal administration of their place of residence to declare their arrival and/or to request the authorization to extend their stay in Belgium.”
- Long stay in Belgium (> 90 days)
The guidelines for long stay are the following.
- Ukrainian citizens who are still in Ukraine
In principle Ukrainian citizens who wish to come to Belgium should normally obtain a visa D (= national long-stay visa) before traveling. It is now possible to apply for this visa at the Belgian Consulate General in Warsaw (Poland) since the Belgian Embassy’s counters in Kiev are currently closed.
- Ukrainian citizens who have left Ukraine and are already in the Schengen area
It is possible to apply for a residence permit directly at the municipal administration of their place residence in Belgium. The conditions for granting this residence permit (studies, work, family reunion) are maintained, but if the applicant cannot present the usual official documents, the Immigration Office will look for alternatives with him/her.
- Ukrainian citizens who have left Ukraine and are in a country that is not part of the Schengen area
These Ukrainian citizens can contact the Belgian embassy or consulate responsible for that country.
- Ukrainian citizens who are legally residing in Belgium
Ukrainian citizens who are legally residing in Belgium for a limited period of time and no longer meet the requirements for renewal of their residence card (card A) can obtain an extension of their authorized stay (end date of stay + 90 days). There is also a possibility to extend up to a maximum of 180 days.
- Flanders: Ukrainian seasonal workers
Specifically for Flanders, it has been confirmed that Ukrainian seasonal workers, who are currently living and working in Belgium with a work permit valid for max. 90 days can exceptionally get the opportunity to extend this work permit, even when they will stay in Flanders for longer than 90 days in total.
However, the (prolongation of) validity of the ‘picking card’ (plukkaart) is currently under discussion.