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Work in Belgium Without Work Visa

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Can I get in trouble for working illegally in Belgium?

Hello Tom,

There seems to be a certain amount of irony in action when it comes to getting visas to work legally in the European Union. In order to inhibit foreign or illegal workers in their countries, they make it a very difficult and time consuming process to get a work visa. This, in turn, forces companies who need short term foreign workers to hire them under the table without visas.

Don’t worry about getting in trouble for this, what you intend to do is very ordinary.

It seems to be standard practice that nearly all short term foreign workers in the EU are there on tourist visas. Proper work visas seem to only be acquired by foreign workers who plan on staying long term. For a three to four month job in Belgium, I do not think that many employers will go through the hassles of obtaining a proper work visa for you.

I repeat that it is very common for foreigners to work in the EU without proper work documents, and I have not yet heard of anyone being punished for it.

I remember once in 2002 I was offered a short term job in Ireland, and I asked my employer about a visa. In simple terms: she laughed in my face. All she said was that I should not tell anyone at the border that I plan on working, and that was it.

So I pass the same advice on to you: don’t tell anyone at the border that you are working. Plan a regular tourist itinerary, and don’t worry about it.

I repeat, it is very very rare for short term foreign workers to be given work visas for the EU. In fact, I have never heard of it. Add to this the fact that there are tens of thousands of short term foreign workers on the continent, and I cannot calculate your risks as being very high.

Take the job without worry, I say.

Be sure to let me know how everything works out for you. Thanks.

Walk Slow,

Wade

Working in Europe

More information on working in Europe without a visa:
What are the penalties for overstaying visa to work in Italy?
Work Abroad and Travel Employment

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Original question about working in Belgium without a work visa

I was contacted by a recruiter in the UK to do a project in Belgium. It is a 3-4 information technology (IT) project at a decent rate. My concern is work visas. As A US citizen, it appears I can be in Belgium for 90 for tourist or business reasons. If I am working on an IT project, is that ‘business’ travel, or can I get in trouble for working illegally?

Thanks

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Filed under: Belgium, Travel Help, Visas, Work

About the Author:

Wade Shepard is the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. He has been traveling the world since 1999, through 76 countries. He is the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China, and contributes to Forbes, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. has written 3054 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

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