If you’re an international student living outside the EU or EEA, you’ll need a visa in order to study in Belgium for longer than three months.
The visa, known as a visa Type D, costs around €200 to cover administrative and processing fees. This type of visa has the same effect as a residence card, and allows free movement within the Schengen Area.
Belgian student visa application process
To get your Type D student visa to study in Belgium, you need to:
- Accept a university offer: Before you can apply for your visa, you need to have accepted an offer to study at a university or other higher education institution in Belgium.
- Contact your nearest Belgian embassy: You will need to go to your local Belgian embassy or consulate in your home country in person, and provide the required documents.
- Await a decision: Your visa application will sent by the embassy or consulate to the Aliens Office, who will make a final decision. Once submitted, you should receive a decision in one to four weeks. Decision can take up to 3 months, especially during holiday periods, like summer holidays.
- Register on arrival: You will need to go to the municipal administration offices in the town you’re studying in within eight days of your arrival to be registered on the aliens register and receive your residence permit (A card).
Belgium student visa requirements
When you apply for a Type D Belgian student visa, you will need to provide a number of documents as part of your application. These need to be supplied to your local Belgian embassy, and include:
- A completed and signed visa application form.
- Your passport, valid for at least 12 months when you arrive in Belgium.
- Proof you have sufficient funds to support yourself - this must cover healthcare, living costs, study and repatriation costs. It is currently set at €750 per month for the 2023/2024 academic year.
- A medical certificate.
- Proof you do not hold any criminal convictions (over 21 only).
- Proof of your registration at a university in Belgium.
- The original and a certified copy of your higher secondary education diploma or equivalent.
- A supporting letter explaining your choice of studies.
- Proof of language proficiency.
All documents supplied in a language other than French, German, English, or Dutch must be translated by a sworn translator and then legalized as a separate document.
Belgian student visa processing time
Once you’ve submitted your application, you’ll usually receive a decision within 15 days. However, during busy spells, the processing time can reach up to 90 days. That’s why it’s always best to start your application in plenty of time.
Working with a Belgian student visa
You can work 20 hours a week during term time as an international student in Belgium, but only if it does not interfere with your studies.
You’ll need a written fixed term contract from your employer, and a type C work permit. You can work during official university holidays without needing a work permit.
You can find more information on working with a Belgian student visa here.
What to do if your application is rejected
The decision whether or not to grant you a type D visa is made by the Aliens Office. If your application has been rejected you will be notified by the embassy or consulate you applied through.
Having your application rejected can be disheartening, but it doesn’t have to derail your international plans.
If you made some mistakes in your first application, you can fix them and re-apply. But if you think your application was wrongly denied, you’ll need to appeal against the decision.
To appeal, you must write a convincing letter. The letter should include:
- Your personal information, including name, passport number, and contact details
- The date of your application rejection
- The reason behind the refusal
- Explanation and evidence for why you think the decision was incorrect
- Your signature