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Studying in a private higher education establishment - Stay


Where to lodge your application
The supporting documents to be provided when applying for leave to remain
Processing of the application for leave to remain
Issue of the residence permit
Refusal to issue the residence permit


Where to lodge your application?

If you are already in Belgium, you can lodge your application for leave to remain, via a letter stating reasons, with the municipal administration in your place of residence, in the following situations:

a) You are already admitted or authorized to stay for more than 3 months in Belgium in another capacity (e.g. you are already working or studying there and you hold a residence card with limited validity) and you meet all the conditions for the issue of a residence authorization in the framework of your studies (see Supporting documents to be provided when applying for leave to remain);

b) You are exempt from the visa obligation for a stay not exceeding 3 months because of your nationality (consult the list of third countries whose nationals are exempt from the visa obligation –, or because you hold a residence permit allowing entry without a visa (consult the list of residence permits issued by the Schengen States –, or because you hold a valid D visa.

In all other cases, you must lodge an application for a visa (D visa) in person with the Belgian consulate competent for your place of residence or stay abroad. When you invoke exceptional circumstances which prevent you from returning to your own country to apply there for authorization to stay for more than 3 months in Belgium (D visa), you must also explain exactly the grounds which you believe constitute those exceptional circumstances. 


The supporting documents to be provided when applying for leave to remain

You must produce the documents establishing that you are in one of the situations allowing the lodging of the application with the municipal administration and the following documents:

a) proof that you have sufficient means of subsistence;

b) a medical certificate attesting that the applicant is not carrying any of the diseases which might endanger public health;

c) if you are aged over 21, a certificate attesting to the lack of any convictions for crimes or offences under common law.


You must also supply documents showing that you are a regular student and that you are able to pursue higher education:

a) an attestation of registration as a regular student issued by a private higher education establishment;

b) the original and a certified true copy of your diploma or baccalaureate from higher secondary education and your academic record from the last year of secondary education;

c) a copy of all the diplomas and certificates obtained since the end of your secondary studies;

d) as appropriate, an employer's statement underlining the necessity for you to pursue the education envisaged in the framework of your work.


You must then substantiate the choice of studies envisaged and append a supporting letter and documentation giving a brief description of the courses organized by the private establishment which issued the registration attestation and explaining the specific nature of those courses compared to similar courses organized in the country of origin.


Finally, you must demonstrate that you have a sufficient knowledge of the language in which the courses that you intend to pursue are given, and provide, for example, an attestation from the secondary education establishment that issued the diploma or the leaving certificate, stipulating the number of hours of classes/week pursued in that language and the results achieved, or proof of passing internationally recognized computerized language proficiency examinations (e.g. TOEFL for English skills) or a certificate issued at the end of complementary education in that language.


You must lodge the original documents, plus a photocopy of these documents. The originals will be returned to you.

The foreign official documents must be legalized or carry an apostil, unless an exemption is provided in a treaty. All the relevant information on this formality is available on the website of the SPF Foreign Affairs (

The documents drawn up abroad in a language other than German, French or Dutch are to be translated in accordance with the original by a sworn translator. The translation must be legalised as a separate document in line with the procedure laid down in the country of origin, and then by the competent Belgian consulate or Embassy.


Processing of the application

As a general rule, the municipal administration will process your application and take the decision. It may also pass on your application to the Immigration Office.


Issue of the residence permit

You will receive a certificate of registration on the aliens register (A card) with a validity of 1 year modelled on the duration of validity of your work permit. This residence permit is registered on the list of residence permits issued by the SCHENGEN States allowing entry without a visa.

As a general rule, you apply for the renewal of your residence permit between the 45th and the 30th day prior to its expiry date. This renewal is issued by the Aliens Office, on production of a valid work permit.


Refusal to issue the residence permit

This decision is within the exclusive competence of the Aliens Office. It is notified to you by the municipal administration.

You may appeal against this decision. The information on avenues of recourse can be found on the refusal form.

For the sake of respecting your privacy, the call centre at the Immigration Office will not communicate the grounds for the refusal to third parties. These grounds may, however, be notified to your lawyer, if a written request is submitted to the Immigration Office.