Belgium is a beautiful country known for its colorful culture. It’s also a transport hub, providing easy access to the rest of Europe.
These are just some of the many things that have made Belgium one of the best destinations for foreigners. Add affordable tuition and a work-permitting visa to the mix, and you have a sprawling community of 40,000 international students.
If you’re thinking of studying in any of the country’s world-class universities, then here’s everything you need to know about getting a student visa in Belgium.
What documents do you need to apply for a student visa in Belgium?
As with most European countries, you have to determine if you need to apply for a student visa at all.
EU, EEA, Swiss, and UK nationals don’t need a visa to study in Belgium.
Citizens of other countries will need a student visa and a residence permit, especially if the program will last more than 90 days.
If you belong to the latter category, then you will have to prepare the following documents for Belgium student visa. Make sure to create three sets of these documents – one set of originals and two sets of duplicates/photocopies.
- Proof of registration in a Belgian institution
- Attestation of registration as a regular student
- Attestation of pre-registration
- Attestation for an admission exam
- Passport (valid for at least 12 months upon application) and recent passport pictures
- Proof of solvency
- Scholarship letter
- Proof of own financial means to support yourself (prescribed amount is EUR 679 or $795 a month)
- A completed form that the ‘commitment charge will be taken’
- Sponsorship letter (affidavit of support), which should include:
- Government-issued ID, Belgian ID card, or resident card
- Family composition (from Belgian municipality)
- Recent proof of income, such as the last three months’ salary slips or the latest tax income assessment. The sponsor should have a monthly income of EUR 1,330.74 or $1,560 to qualify.
- Certificate of good conduct or police certificate for students aged 21 and above
- Medical certificate
- Proof of payment for the supplementary administrative costs
- A signed declaration that you will leave Belgium after finishing your studies
The embassy may also require you to submit supporting documents. An example is proof of access to higher education, which you may satisfy by submitting your academic records or diplomas.
Chinese students need to submit an APS certificate issued by DAAD Beijing. To get this, the applicant should pass the following for a student visa in Belgium:
- Authenticity exam. This involves the submission of required documents, including diplomas, transcripts, etc.
- Interview. Even if the DAAD has evaluated the documents, the office may need to interview the applicant.
While most students will need to undergo APS certification, the following applicants may be exempt from this process:
- Scholars under international cooperation agreements
- Students on official grant programs
- Applicants who have completed their higher education in an EU institution
If you’re traveling to Belgium for research, you need to prepare the following:
- Proof that you have been chosen by an authorized Belgian body to conduct research
- Proof of host agreement with the said organization
You will also need to submit a medical certificate and a police clearance to apply.
How much money do you need for a Belgian Student Visa?
The cost of applying for a long-stay or visa type D is EUR 180 or $210. Researchers need to pay a higher fee of EUR 350 or $410.
If you only need to stay for a shorter time (less than 90 days) in Belgium, then you only need to pay a fee of EUR 80 or $95.
Students also need to pay contributions for administrative costs. The fees range from EUR 63 to 336 ($75 to $430.) However, the usual amount for non-EU students is EUR 209 ($245) for a student visa in Belgium.
If your country processes applications through a third-party company such as VFS, you will also need to pay its service fees. This will cost you an additional EUR 21 or $25.
Check Also: Programs in Europe for International Students
Steps on Applying for a Student Visa in Belgium
The process of applying for a Belgian student visa is as follows:
1. Complete the application form.
Sign up for an account on this website. Once you have one, you may start completing the application form.
2. Pay the fee.
You will need to pay the fee prescribed above.
3. Set an appointment with the Belgian consulate in your country.
Once you have paid the application fee, you may set an appointment date with the embassy.
If your country doesn’t have a Belgian consulate, you may need to set your appointment in a consulate in a nearby country.
Tip: It’s best to set an appointment right away, as slots get filled up quickly for a student visa in Belgium.
4. Wait for your visa
Depending on your country, you may have to track your application through the VFS website.
Should the embassy decide to forward your application to the Immigration Office, you will have to check the status on the official website.
Belgium Student Visa processing takes about two months, so it’s best to file your application at the earliest possible time.
5. Fly to Belgium
Once you have the visa at hand, you can fly to Belgium.
Remember: you will need to register at the city hall to get a residence permit (A card). This should be obtained within eight days of your arrival.
The card, which is issued electronically, costs anywhere from EUR 17.80 to 19.30 ($21 to $23.)
To apply for a residence permit, you will need to submit the following:
- Valid passport
- Long-stay visa
- Passport photos, four pieces
- Proof of enrolment
- Copy of student accommodation/rental contract
- Health insurance
- Proof of solvency
- Personal data form
If you want to bring your family with you, you need to go to Belgium first. Once in the country, you need to find suitable accommodation for your family.
Once you have one, you need to have your contract notarized before sending this to your family. This, together with proof of insurance, will be required when they apply for family reunification.
Likewise, they will need to register for a residence permit at the city hall once they arrive.
I hope that this article on how to apply for a student visa in Belgium was helpful. If you are interested in studying in Europe, make sure to check out Available Programs in Europe for International Students.