The Secretary of State for Asylum and Migration, Theo Francken, has announced his intention to “fight against abuses in the use of student visas.” He was speaking an interview published on Thursday by the newspapers in the SudPresse group and De Standaard. At the same time, he wished to enable foreign graduates and postgraduates to keep working in Belgian companies for a certain period.
He asserted, “We must not overlook that numerous third-country citizens do not use this migration channel for study ends, but simply to access our country or the Schengen area as a whole. It is therefore appropriate to scrupulously make sure that their studies are well under way and successfully pursued. In this regard, a new royal decree will be executed with a view to anticipating the possibility of issuing an order to leave the country to a student if he or she has made insufficient progress with their studies.”
Mr Francken (New Flemish Alliance) explained that he was considering, in his action plan for 2018, the creation of a database of guarantees “so as to counter abuses in the use of student visas.” However, he also wishes to introduce new regulations for graduate students in the legislation upon foreigners. Mr Francken went on, “So that our country can also benefit from the economic advantages of investment in education of third-country citizens, it is highly important to set down within the law upon foreigners the possibility of extending their stay.”
He says, “Having come to the end of their research or their studies, third-country citizens should be able to stay in Belgium for a given period, for the purpose of looking for a job or starting a business. That will enable graduates and phD students to be involved in our economy. The aim would be that student migration is an integral part of active migration.” Mr Francken says this measure may enable us to plug the shortage of skilled jobs in certain sectors. Thus last year Belgium welcomed 4,272 legal migrant workers. This only represents a fraction of unfilled job offers.