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An urgent solution needed for foreigners in Belgium

An urgent solution needed for foreigners who are waiting for the renewal of their residence permit, Belgian ombudsman says.

Belgian ombudsman announced its urgent warning for foreigners in Belgium.

Some foreigners find themselves in Belgium without a valid residence permit because the Belgian Immigration Office often fails to examine their renewal application in time. They are severely limited in their administrative procedures and some lose their jobs and can no longer pay their rent.

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Ombudsman sent a recommendation to the House of Representatives to obtain an emergency structural solution for all foreigners concerned, and in particular students whose residence permit expires on October 31.

For several years, the Federal Ombudsman has received complaints from foreigners whose temporary residence permit has expired and who have to wait far too long for its renewal. These include people who are studying in Belgium and wish to continue their studies, who are staying here for humanitarian or medical reasons or who benefit from family reunification. The significant delay of the Immigration Office places them in more than precarious situations.

Annex 15 is insufficient

Foreigners who are waiting for the renewal of their expired residence permit receive an appendix 15: an insufficient paper document which does not allow them to exercise their rights. They cannot travel abroad to attend the funeral of a family member, for example, or undertake online procedures such as completing their tax declaration. They encounter difficulties in accessing a bank account and in benefiting from certain social allowances. Some of them can no longer pay their rent, fail to get a job or lose their jobs altogether.

Moreover, foreigners who submit their renewal application late are disproportionately sanctioned. Even if they are not themselves responsible for the delay, they do not receive an annex 15, which aggravates their already precarious situation.

Students: until October 31

The Federal Ombudsman mainly receives complaints from people who are staying for humanitarian reasons or who are studying in Belgium. The registration period for the academic year is indeed coming to an end. An urgent solution is therefore necessary because the residence permit for foreign students expires on October 31st. The number of foreign nationals who could find themselves in this difficult situation is therefore likely to increase.

Jérôme Aass and David Baele, federal mediators: “We have been reporting the problem for several years, but no real solution could be found. We are currently contacted every day by foreign nationals whose residence permit has expired and who are facing significant difficulties. The situation becomes inhuman. With the problem being widespread, we call on the House to urgently change the legislation to address the issues."

Ombudsman recommends that the House provide procedural guarantees so that citizens do not have to suffer the consequences of the delay of a public service.

Not only foreigners but also their Belgian employers together with Belgian companies who receive services from those expats are also suffering from this situation.

Belgian is in need for an urgent action with regard to the treatment procedures and delays of the procedures for foreigners.

Source: Federal Ombudsman in Belgium

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