Depending on where you live and how long your course is, you may need to apply for a visa if you want to study in Belgium. Find out if you need a student visa for Belgium, how to apply, and what documents you’ll need.
If you want to study in Belgium, do you need a visa?
Students who come from a country in the European Union or the European Economic Area (EEA) do not need a student visa to study in Belgium. They must, however, carry a national ID card, which they must show to the customs officer when they arrive in Belgium. If you are a student from the EU, you still have to meet certain requirements to study in Belgium.
- Enrollment at a college or school that has been approved,
- Enough money to live in Belgium without needing help from the government,
- Coverage for all health needs.
If you are from a country that is not in the EU, you might need a student visa to enter Belgium. Students from some countries, like the US, don’t need a visa for Belgium if they only stay there for 90 days or less.
Before they can enroll in a college or university in Belgium, students from the People’s Republic of China must get an academic evaluation certificate from the Academic Assessment Centre (APS). To get a student visa for Belgium, you need this APS certificate. The test includes a technical evaluation of your diploma and an interview. In some cases, you might not have to go to this interview.
How do you get a visa to study in Belgium?
Before you can apply for a student visa for Belgium, you must first be accepted into a course at a recognized school and pay the registration fees (this will be refunded if your visa application is rejected). If you are a student from another country, you will need to contact the Belgian embassy or consulate in your country. The embassy will help you figure out if you need a student visa and show you how to apply for one.
On the website of the Foreigners Department of the Federal Public Service (FPS) for Home Affairs, which you can read in French, Dutch, or English, you can find out everything you need to know about applying for a Belgian visa. If you are an international student, you will need to apply for a national long-stay visa (D visa), which lets you stay in Belgium for more than 90 days.
Getting a visa for Belgium is different depending on which consulate or embassy you go to. Most of the time, though, you’ll need to fill out a visa application form, pay an application fee, and send in all the necessary documents (see below). Applicants from some countries may need to make an appointment with their consulate or embassy in order to apply. Some consulates may also work with an outside service provider to handle most of the administrative tasks. If this is the case, an extra service fee will be charged.
What are the rules for getting a student visa for Belgium?
To meet Belgium’s requirements for a student visa, you’ll need to provide the following:
- A visa application form that is filled out and signed (you may need to bring more than one)
- A passport or other travel document that is good for more than a year. In some countries, the passport can’t be older than 10 years and has to have two blank pages facing each other.
- Proof that you will have enough money to stay in the country for the length of your stay. This must cover the cost of your health care, food, housing, and schooling, as well as your return ticket. This can be in the form of a grant or scholarship certificate, a financial responsibility agreement from your sponsor, or a copy of your bank statement that shows you have enough money.
- A medical certificate that says you don’t have any diseases that could hurt other people (such as TB, diseases that require quarantine and other infectious diseases)
- A certificate from the police saying that you have never been convicted of a crime (if you are aged over 21). If you’re from the US, you’ll probably need an FBI background check, which can take up to five months to get.
Belgium also requires proof that you are a student and that you plan to study there. You might need the following:
- Proof of registration at a recognized higher education institution in Belgium (must cover a full-time course of study, which shows that the candidate’s main activity in Belgium is studying)
- Application for an equivalence certificate for a diploma or certificate conferred abroad (only required for French Community education)
- Original and certified copies of your high school diploma, certificate, or baccalaureate, as well as your transcript from your last year of high school.
- Copy of all diplomas and certificates you’ve earned since you finished high school
- A letter from your employer explaining why you need to go to college to do your job (more likely to apply to postgraduate students)
- Documentation with a short description of the courses run by your chosen institution and a short explanation of how these courses differ from those run in your home country.
All documents that are not in German, French, English, or Dutch must be translated by a sworn translator, legalized as a separate document in your home country, and legalized again by the Belgian consulate or embassy you go to. Depending on where you are from, your consulate or embassy may ask for other documents that aren’t listed here.
You will also have to send a letter explaining why you want to take that course, why you want to study in Belgium, and how your choices will help you. You must show that you know enough about the language you want to study by showing that you passed an internationally recognized language proficiency test or that you got a certificate when you finished schooling in that language.
You can find out what’s going on with your visa application if you know your reference number and where the consulate or embassy you chose is. The Belgian consulate or embassy looks at visa requests on a case-by-case basis and is the only place that can decide whether or not to give you a visa. You can try to get this decision changed if you want to.
If the embassy or consulate you applied to can’t process your student visa application for some reason, they may suggest you apply for a tourist visa, which is easier for them to give out. If so, make sure they write down that they told you to apply for a tourist visa. This will allow you to exchange your tourist visa for a student visa once you’re in Belgium, so you can enroll at the college or university of your choice.
Arrival in Belgium
Within eight days of arriving in Belgium, all students, including those from the EU, must go to the local municipal administration. You will then be given a residence permit that lets you stay in Belgium and lets you enter the Schengen States without a visa for up to three months. Every year, about 30 to 45 days before your permit expires, you can apply to have it renewed.