• Federal Government to Decentralize Employment-Based Immigration Policy
  • February 4, 2014
  • Law Firm: Fragomen Del Rey Bernsen Loewy LLP - New York Office
  • Belgium’s federal government will transfer authority over employment-based immigration policy to regional governments on July 1, 2014. The country’s three regions - Brussels-Capital, Flanders and Wallonia - will be free to develop their own work authorization policies, programs, requirements and exemptions or choose to continue to follow existing federal rules.

    After July 1, each regional government will have full decision-making authority over all matters related to the employment of foreign nationals in its region, including work permits and professional cards previously issued under federal rules.

    With the change, Belgium seeks to empower the regions to develop immigration policies to respond to their local labor market needs. It is not yet known whether, how or when the three regions will elect to do so. Existing federal legislation will remain in force until the regions adopt their own policies.

    Belgium’s federal government will retain legislative authority over the admission and residence rights of foreign nationals and the work rights of foreign nationals who reside in Belgium on a basis other than employment.

    Historically, Belgium’s federal government has been responsible for the development of all immigration legislation and policy, while the regions have been in charge of executing those policies by issuing work permits and fulfilling similar duties.

    What This Means for Employers

    It is too early to tell how the decentralization of immigration rulemaking authority will affect employers and how it will interact with the EU Single Permit Directive, implementation of which is already past due in Belgium.