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Work in Belgium Without Work Visa

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 [...]

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

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 88 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 3411 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

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6 comments… add one

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  • yasir abbas August 2, 2009, 3:18 am

    hello im yasir abbas from pakistan sir im very poor no work banefit in pakistan to much probalim plz iwant to appaly belgium so ihope you doint ignore my requst plz replay must.thinks

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  • elgium visa November 16, 2010, 11:00 am

    Why should I don’t tell anyone at the border that I`m working? Why is so bad?

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  • nikki June 27, 2012, 5:13 pm

    hi i’ve been looking all over the web and even tried to call the belgium consulate but no luck my cousin was arrested in belgium for working without a permit a few months ago and i cant seem to get any information about getting him released and sent back to the states the info i found said he would be deported immediately but still nothing and we havent heard from him since the arrest would you or anyone who may read this know how i can get more info the consulate wouldnt give me anything since im not his wife or mother.

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    • Wade Shepard June 27, 2012, 9:16 pm

      This situation sounds extremely atypical — especially since a relatively long time has elapsed since the arrest. There seems to be something more involved than simply working without a permit. I would try to get other family members to help and contact the police station in the city where he was arrested directly. If that does not work to travel there yourself and make in person inquiries. Say that you’re his sister.

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  • imma November 15, 2012, 11:16 am

    i am here in belgium as a tourist,how can i apply working visa as a filipino

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