The criteria and conditions for obtaining long-term resident status are laid down in Chapter IV of the Aliens Act, which refers to the Long-Term Residence Directive. Some modalities can be found in the Aliens Decree.
Refugees and subsidiary protection beneficiaries are included in the scope of the Long-Term Residence Directive since 2011 and thus circumvent the first condition of being a third-country national. Other conditions to be cumulatively fulfilled are that the person concerned has to have:
- Stayed legally and continuously within Belgium for 5 years immediately prior to the submission of the relevant application;
- Stable and regular resources which are sufficient to maintain himself/herself and the members of his or her family, without recourse to the social assistance system of the Member State concerned. For 2020 the required amount was set at 862 € per month, plus 288 € per dependent person.
- Sickness insurance in respect of all risks normally covered in Belgium.
The legal and continuous stay within Belgium for five years only includes half of the time between lodging an asylum application and receiving either refugee status of subsidiary protection. Only if this period exceeds 18 months, the whole period will be taken into account. Periods of absence are not excluded if they are not longer than 6 consecutive months and do not exceed 10 months in total during the 5 years.
Excluded categories from long-term residence include asylum seekers and people who benefit other forms of international protection. However, even though referred to in Article 15-bis(1)(3), in current Belgian legislation there is no third category of international protection. Also excluded from long-term residence status are persons considered a threat to public policy and public security.
The request to obtain the status of long-term resident (the so-called “Annex 16”) is lodged at the municipal authorities of the applicant’s place of residence. The municipal authorities confirm this by issuing a certificate of receipt (“Annex 16-bis”). The municipal authorities afterwards transfer the request to the Immigration Office, which takes a decision within 5 months. In the event of a positive decision, or the absence of a decision after 5 months, the applicant will be included in the civil register and receive an electronic D-card with a validity of 5 years and the mention “EC – long-term resident”. In addition to this the mention “international protection granted by Belgium on [date]” is written on the residence permit for long-term residents. The duration of validity of long-term residence status is unlimited, contrary to the residence card D itself.
In the event of a refusal, the municipal authorities will notify the applicant with a so-called Annex 17. Against this decision an appeal procedure is available. The possibilities for appeal are listed on the refusal document and are listed in Article 39/82 and 39/2(2) of the Aliens Act.
Article 18(3) of the Aliens Act holds the exception that in case the protection status a beneficiary of international protection is revoked on the basis of Article 55/3/1(2) or 55/5/1(2) Aliens Act, the Minister or his delegate hold the right to revoke the long-term residence status. Should this be the intent of the Minister or his delegate, several things such as the family bonds, the duration of stay in Belgium and the family, cultural and social ties to the country of origin have to be taken into account.
 Council Directive 2003/109/EC of 25 November 2003 concerning the status of third-country nationals who are long-term residents, OJ L016, 44-53.
 Article 29(1) Aliens Decree.
 Article 29(2) Aliens Decree.
 Article 30(2) Aliens Decree.
 Article 18(1) Aliens Act.
 Article 30(1) Aliens Decree.