Rated by numerous international students as an excellent place for studies, Belgium offers a wide multicultural environment and great academic opportunities, as the country has several top universities attested by prestigious international rankings. As a multilingual country with different regions speaking French, Dutch and German, English is also widely spoken in the great cities of Belgium and many university courses are taught in this language.
Belgium truly caters for students worldwide and the good thing is that not all of you may require a student visa, so check your eligibility for visa before starting your visa application process.
1. Decide on a university to apply to and get your acceptance letter
If you’re still not sure where you want to study in Belgium, you will have to decide before you can start your student visa application process. After being accepted at a university in Belgium, you’ll get an acceptance letter required for visa application.
Find the right universities depending on the discipline you want to study.
- Master programmes in Political Science in Belgium;
- Master programmes in Economics in Belgium;
- Master programmes in Electrical Engineering in Belgium;
- Master programmes in Computer Sciences in Belgium;
- Master programmes in International Business in Belgium.
2. Consider some of the best universities in Belgium
3. Find out what type of visa you need to study in Belgium
- EU/EEA/Swiss- students –don’t need student visa
- Non-EU/EEA/Swiss students – will need to apply for a Belgian student visa and/or residence permit.
In some cases, you can apply for the residence permit at your university and they will help you obtain one.
You can also check more details at the Belgium Immigration Office.
4. Analyse study opportunities in each Belgian area – Flemish, French or German community
Check the following websites and see if your diploma receives the same recognition in the Flemish, French or German communities as in your own country.
Students from China have to obtain a certificate from the Academic Evaluation Centre (APS) of the German Embassy in Beijing before being allowed to enrol at a Belgian college or university or obtain a student visa.
5. When and where to apply for the student visa in Belgium?
- Apply for visa at the Belgium embassy or consulate in your home country.
- For a long stay study visa, it is recommended that you make an appointment at the embassy at least two months before your departure.
- For a short stay visa, make an appointment at least 3 weeks before your departure.
6. Tips about my visa application
- Check the opening hours for handing in a visa application.
- Within some embassies/consulates, you can make an appointment online by sending an e-mail at the embassy and upload required documents. You will receive an answer within the next two working days with a confirmation of your appointment and bring a printout as proof.
- Inform the embassy in case you want to cancel or change your appointment.
7. Language requirements for my study in Belgium
You will have to provide evidence that you have a sufficient knowledge of the language in which the courses that you intend to pursue are given. If you are a native speaker, or if you conducted your prior studies in the same language that is used as medium of instruction for your chosen degree, you are exempted from the language requirement.
Accepted certificates based on your chosen language:
- English: TOEFL or IELTS
- Dutch: Dutch NT2-II diploma
- French: DELF or DALF
- German: DSH or TestDaF
8. Required application documents
- Passport (valid for three months longer than the visa)
- Two original visa application forms
- Acceptance letter from a Belgian university (usually the original document plus two copies)
- Copies of educational certificates
- Cover/motivational letter
- Proof of sufficient financial means to cover all your expenses during an academic year (604 EUR/month)
- A medical certificate
- A certificate of good conduct (or the local equivalent) if you are over 21 (including fingerprinting)
- Visa Application Fee (70 EUR for short stay visa and 210 EUR for long stay visa)
Additional documents may be requested by the embassy or consulate.
9. More detailed information for students coming from some countries outside the EU:
10. Apply for a work permit in Belgium
You can apply for a work permit (Belgian work permit C – for students) at the regional employment agencies in Belgium.
Any foreign student enrolled at a Belgian university that has a valid residence permit can work up to 20 hours a week outside of school holidays as long as working hours don’t overlap with their classes.
You will need to get a written fixed term contract from your employer, known as a ‘student employment contract’. During holidays, you can work without the need for a permit.
Belgian work permits – for non-EU nationals
11. Conditions to apply for a residence permit
Within eight working days after your arrival in Belgium, reach the local municipal administration offices/ town hall (maison communale/gemeentehuis) to register for a residence permit. This residence permit allows you to open a bank account, apply for a work permit and you could also get insurance in Belgium.
In some cases, you can apply for the residence permit at your university and they will help you with the application for residence permit.