On 12 October 2005, the European Commission published the directive 2005/71 on a set of measures for admitting third-country nationals for the purposes of scientific research in Europe. Lawmakers took pains to simplify and speed up processing of visa, residence permit and work permit issues for third-country researchers (non-EU member states or associates), for the researchers themselves as well as the host research institute.

This directive, known as the "scientific visa", has now been fully transposed to Belgian law and comprises several parts:

  1. The procedure for obtaining a visa and residence permit for any third-country researcher who has signed a hosting agreement with a previously- approved research organisation has been simplified.
  2. Any researcher coming to Belgium in the framework of such an agreement is also exempted from the work permit requirement.
  3. Public or private research organisations wishing to obtain approval must make an application for approval.
  4. The application must be submitted to the Federal Science Policy Office and presupposes a capacity to provide evidence of R&D activities.

Once a Research Organisation has been approved, it can sign hosting agreements that fall under this facilitated procedure. Approval is granted by the Federal Science Policy Office for a period of of 5 years.

On the basis of a hosting agreement signed by both parties, the researcher can submit an application for a residence permit lasting longer than three months to the Belgian diplomatic or consular post in the country of residence or place of stay abroad.

Approval procedure

Any research organisation that, in view of conducting a research project, wishes to sign a hosting agreement with a researcher who is not a national of a European Union member state, must first be approved.

The application for approval must be submitted to the Federal Science Policy