The presence of foreign nationals on Belgian territory is monitored by the police, the Social Inspectorate and the Federal Public Service Finance. Any administrative decision related to their residence is taken by the Immigration Office.
When the police in Belgium check a person, they first contact the Immigration Office for an administrative decision. The Immigration Office studies the file on the basis of the administrative report drawn up by the police, checks the foreign national's residence situation, takes a decision and gives instructions to the police as soon as possible. If the foreign national is found to be staying irregularly, one of the following decisions will be made. These decisions will be forwarded to the police and must be served on the person concerned:
- order to leave the territory or confirmation of a previously notified order to leave the territory;
- detention in a detention centre or an open family unit for families with minor children, with a view to return;
- transfer to an open centre for unaccompanied minors and supervision by the Guardianship Service of the Federal Public Service Justice.
Any administrative decision is subject to a judicial decision. The decision of the Immigration Office only becomes enforceable when the magistrate decides not to arrest the foreign national in irregular stay on the basis of the crimes they have committed.
Belgium's strategy is to focus increasingly on voluntary return. When an order to leave the country is issued, efforts will be made to provide effective guidance for return, either a voluntary return or a forced return if the foreign national continues to refuse to voluntarily comply with the order.
When a foreign national is served with an order to leave the territory, they are given clear and concrete information on the course of the procedures, voluntary return and the risk of forced return.