Studying at a private higher education institution

[Article 9 of the Law of 15 December 1980]

Third-country nationals who wish to stay in Belgium for more than 90 days to study at a private higher education institution, i.e. pursue a course of study that is not organised, recognised or subsidised by the Belgian government, do not have student status within the meaning of Article 58 of the Act, given that the diploma or certificate issued at the end of the course will not be recognised.  

This third-country national must apply for a visa D (national long-stay visa) at the Belgian diplomatic or consular post competent for the place where they habitually reside abroad.  The procedure to be followed for submitting a visa application and the form in which supporting documents must be submitted are explained on the post's site and/or the external service provider with which the post works (VFS Global, TLS Contact).

The general rule is that the applicant must submit the following items (standard file):

  • a copy of his valid passport or a copy of an equivalent travel document;
  • proof of payment of the contribution fee, if this obligation applies to him;
  • A certificate of enrolment issued by a private higher education institution;
  • his secondary school leaving certificate, or his baccalaureate;
  • any diploma, certificate or pass certificate obtained after secondary education;
  • a summary of the marks obtained during the final academic year issued by the institution attended;
  • proof of sufficient knowledge of the language in which the courses are taught, namely a certificate from the secondary education institution that awarded the diploma, specifying the number of weekly hours of courses taken in this language and the results obtained; or a pass certificate from computerised tests of proficiency in this language whose quality is internationally recognised (e.g. the TOEFL for English); or a certificate issued after additional training in this language.
  • if he is under eighteen years of age, proof of consent from his parents or, where applicable, the person exercising guardianship;
  • proof that during the planned stay he will have  sufficient means of subsistence to avoid becoming a burden on the social assistance system of the State during his stay;
  • proof that he has or will have health insurance covering risks in Belgium during his stay;
  • a medical certificate proving that he is not suffering from any of the diseases listed in the annex to this Act;
  • if he is over 18 years of age, an extract from the criminal record or an equivalent document issued by the country of origin or the country of his last residence, which is not older than six months and confirms that he has not been convicted of crimes or misdemeanours, under common law.

In the case of vocational training, the file must also include an employer's certificate explaining the need to undertake the chosen study.

The decision to grant or refuse a D visa is taken by the Immigration Office. In the event of a refusal, the decision and the reason for the refusal are notified to the applicant by the post. Applicants may introduce an appeal against this decision. 

When their visa application is sent to the Immigration Office for a decision, the applicant can track the visa application through the app Follow-up the visa application.