Foreign students will have one year to find work in Belgium
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Foreign students will have one year to find work in Belgium

Credit: Beeldbank UAntwerpen

Non-Eurpoean students studying abroad in Belgium will soon have one year to find work in the country following the competition of their studies. Currently, students must return to their home country upon completion of their studies.

The motion was passed today in the Council of Ministers and announced in a press release.

The number of non-EU students in Belgium is rather low compared to other European countries.

8,600 non-EU students came to study in Belgium in 2019, compared to 10,000 in Hungary and 20,000 in the Netherlands.

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“There is no big difference in terms of procedure or registration, but in the Netherlands it’s possible to stay for 12 months after studying to look for work, unlike in Belgium,” said Secretary of State for Asylum and Migration Sammy Mahdi, who explains that part of the reason for passing the law is so that Belgium doesn’t “lose the war for talent.”

“It is not a lottery ticket, but it’s a winning opportunity for us and for the country of origin,” said Mahdi. “Each student costs the authorities €12,000 per year. It’s a worthless investment if we send students back to their home countries a few weeks after their studies because they could not find work immediately.”

According to figures from Eurostat, the Statistical Office of the European Union, between 10,000 and 14,000 students apply for a residence permit to study or carry out research in Belgium. About 80% of these requests are approved.

Chinese and Americans are the most represented nationalities, with 1,000 and 650 students respectively coming to Belgium to study or do research.

Turkey, India and Canada send about 400 students a year, and for Mexico, Brazil and the Democratic Republic of Congo that number is 300.

For most countries, almost all applications are accepted. For requests from Africa, however, 30 to 60% are refused.

Helen Lyons
The Brussels Times