Article 9ter of the Law of 15 December 1980 allows a person residing in Belgium to apply for a residence permit when they suffer from an illness that entails a real risk to their life or physical integrity, or a real risk of inhuman or degrading treatment when there is no adequate treatment in their country of origin or in the country where they are staying.
The application must be sent to the Immigration Office by registered mail to the following address:
Exceptional Stay Department – Medical Stay Service
Boulevard Pacheco, 44
The application must contain:
- proof of identity;
- the actual residential address in Belgium;
- all useful and recent information concerning the illness, the possibilities of treatment in the country of origin or stay, and the accessibility of this treatment;
- a standard medical certificate drawn up less than 3 months before the application is made, indicating the illness, its degree of seriousness and the treatment deemed necessary.
The application for a residence permit must contain proof of identity. This proof can be provided via an identity document, or by evidence that meets the following conditions:
- it contains the full name, place and date of birth, and nationality of the applicant;
- it is issued by the competent authority in accordance with the law of 16 July 2004 on the Code of Private International Law or the international conventions on the same matter;
- it makes it possible to establish a physical link between the person to whom the document relates and the applicant;
- it is not established on the basis of mere declarations by the applicant.
The applicant can also prove their identity via multiple items of evidence which, taken together, meet the elements of identity (full name, place and date of birth, and nationality), provided that each item of evidence meets at least the conditions set out in points (b) and (d), and that at least one of the items meets the condition referred to in point (c).
The obligation to provide proof of identity does not apply to a foreign national whose application for international protection has not been the subject of a final decision, or who has lodged an appeal for administrative cassation declared admissible in accordance with Article 20 of the Laws of the Council of State, coordinated on 12 January 1973, until such time as a decision rejecting the admissible appeal is handed down.
The foreign national must include proof of exemption in their application.
A person who has submitted multiple applications for a residence permit for which the examination is not yet completed (no decision), shall be deemed to have withdrawn these applications. Consequently, the Immigration Office will make its decision on the basis of the elements invoked in the last application.
A third-country national will be excluded from the procedure if the Immigration Office has serious grounds for considering that they have committed acts referred to in article 55/4 of the Law of 15 December 1980.
The Immigration Office will examine whether the application for a residence permit is admissible. The application is not admissible in the following cases:
- the application is not sent by registered mail to the Immigration Office, or it does not contain the address of the actual residence in Belgium;
- identity is not proven in the application in the manner provided for in Article 9ter. §2 of the Law, or the application does not contain the proof referred to in §2, paragraph 3;
- the standard medical certificate is not submitted with the application, or the standard medical certificate does not meet the conditions set out in Article 9ter. § 1, paragraph 4 of the law;
- the medical official or the designated doctor referred to in Article 9ter, §1, paragraph 5 of the law, states in an opinion that the illness is manifestly not one of the illnesses referred to in §1, paragraph 1, which can give rise to a residence permit in Belgium.
Nor is the application admissible in the cases referred to in Article 9bis. § 2, 1° to 3° of the law, or if elements invoked in support of the application for a residence permit have already been invoked in the context of a previous application for a residence permit on the basis of Article 9ter of the law, with the exception of elements invoked in the context of an application that has been judged inadmissible on the basis of Article 9ter. § 3, 1°, 2° or 3° of the law, and with the exception of elements invoked in previous applications that have been withdrawn.
If the Immigration Office declares the application admissible, it will inform the municipal administration, which enters the applicant in the Register of foreign national and issues them with a certificate of registration (AI in French/Dutch).
A medical official, or a physician designated by the Immigration Office, will assess:
- the illness, its degree of seriousness, and the treatment deemed necessary, as indicated in the medical certificate;
- the real risk to the applicant's life or physical integrity, or the risk of inhuman or degrading treatment;
- the treatment possibilities and accessibility of treatment in the country of origin or residence.
The doctor may, if he or she considers it necessary, examine the applicant and seek additional expert advice.
The doctor will issue an independent opinion.
The Immigration Office may refuse the application for a residence permit if the applicant does not appear on the date set in the doctor's summons, and does not give a valid reason within 15 days of that date.
As a rule, the Immigration Office will make its decision after receiving the doctor's opinion.
If the Immigration Office accepts the application, the municipal administration will register the applicant in the Register of foreign national and issue them with an A card (limited stay) valid for one year. This limited residence permit becomes unlimited (B card) at the end of the 5-year period following the application for a permit.
If the Immigration Office refuses the application, it will inform the applicant (via the municipal administration) and their lawyer. An appeal may be lodged against this decision. However, this appeal does not have suspensive effect. The decision rejecting the application for an entry permit will therefore take effect immediately.
Foreign nationals who wish to extend their stay beyond the date set by the Immigration Office must apply for the renewal of their residence permit (A card) at the municipal administration of their place of residence, between the 45th and 30th day prior to this date, and present documents proving that they meet the requirements for the renewal of the residence permit.
The above information is not exhaustive. It is therefore recommended that the reference texts be read in full:
- Law of 15 December 1980 on access to the territory, residence, settlement and removal of foreign nationals, as amended by the Law of 15 September 2006 (articles 9, 9ter and 9quater);
- Law of 7 June 2009 amending the Law of 15 December 1980 on access to the territory, residence, settlement and removal of foreign nationals as regards the doctor's opinion - BOG of 3 August 2009;
- Law of 29 December 2010 on various provisions (articles 187 and 188) - BOG of 31 December 2010;
- Law of 8 January 2012 amending the Law of 15 December 1980 on access to the territory, residence, settlement and removal of foreign nationals - BOG of 6 February 2012;
- Law of 14 December 2015 amending articles 9bis and 9ter of the Law of 15 December 1980 on access to the territory, residence, settlement and removal of foreign nationals - BOG of 30 December 2015;
- Royal Decree of 8 October 1981 on access to the territory, residence, settlement and removal of foreign nationals;
- Royal Decree of 17 May 2007 laying down the procedures for implementing the Law of 15 September 2006 amending the Law of 15 December 1980 on access to the territory, residence, settlement and removal of foreign nationals - BOG of 31 May 2007;
- Royal Decree of 7 May 2009 appointing medical experts - BOG of 2 June 2009;
- Royal Decree of 24 January 2011 amending the Royal Decree of 17 May 2007 laying down the procedures for implementing the Law of 15 September 2006 amending the Law of 15 December 1980 on access to the territory, residence, settlement and removal of foreign nationals - BOG of 28 January 2011;
- Circular of 21 June 2007 relating to changes in the regulations on the residence of foreign nationals following the entry into force of the Law of 15 September 2006 - BOG of 4 July 2007.