What is the civic integration process in Flanders?
The Flemish state makes it a point of honor that everyone moving to Flanders is well integrated. All expatriates should feel that they have their place in Belgium. It is therefore possible to follow a process of civic integration, which will be offered to you upon your arrival. This is intended to provide you with all the knowledge and know-how in order to actively participate in life in Flanders.
It is also a way of orienting yourself on your professional and social future. A kind of little help on the minimum, namely: “How to become an entrepreneur?”, “How to become an employee?”, “How to educate my children?” And many others.
If you come from a country very different from Belgium, where society operates differently, it will be necessary to consider an integration process in order to orient yourself and especially not to get lost in your new life. This help is open to everyone. In some situations, it may even be mandatory.
For new Belgian minors, the process of civic integration is not offered because it takes place at school through education. Your children will therefore adapt to Flanders when they go to school.
What are the conditions for civic integration to settle in Flanders?
Civic integration is aimed at foreigners aged 18 or over who settle in Flanders or Brussels to live there. Belgians born abroad and with at least one parent born outside Belgium are part of the target group for civic integration.
Everyone who is part of the civic integration target group has the right to a civic integration course.
Some newcomers must follow a path of civic integration, in particular:
- are 18 years or older
- are registered in the national population register (“Rijksregister”)
- lives in a municipality in the Flemish Region
- have a residence permit valid for more than 3 months for the first time.
- are 18 years or older
- were not born in Belgium
- have at least one parent who was not born in Belgium
- are entered in the national population register for the first time in no more than 12 consecutive months.
Allophone newcomer minors who:
- will be 18 years old when they have not been entered in the national population register for the first time for 12 consecutive months with a residence permit for more than 3 months
- Newcomers who are ministers of a religion in a local church or a religious community recognized by the Flemish authorities.
For these categories of newcomers, the civic integration obligation remains valid as long as they do not fulfill the civic integration program.
Please note: the rules relating to the civic integration obligation set out here apply to Flanders. Different rules may apply in Brussels.
What is the civic integration agenda?
In Flanders, the civic integration program includes:
- a “social orientation” course on life, work, standards and values in Belgium (in a language the learner can understand)
- a Dutch course
- individual support in the search for work, studies, etc. and assistance in the evaluation of diplomas.
The content of the civic integration course is integrated into a civic integration contract. Anyone who signs a civic integration contract agrees to follow the training program regularly (attend at least 80% of all courses during each part of the training).
Anyone who successfully completes the social orientation course and the Dutch course receives a civic integration certificate. Newcomers are then guided in their search for a job or diploma (vocational training, training to become self-employed, additional Dutch lessons, other studies, etc.).
Civic integration obligation
Anyone who is required to follow the civic integration path must:
- Register in time with the competent agency (you will then receive a registration certificate).
- attend at least 80% of all classes
Newcomers required to follow the civic integration course who do not fulfill their obligation risk an administrative fine.
If you are not obliged to follow the civic integration course but you do not respect the civic integration contract that you signed, you still risk an administrative fine.
In the Flemish Region, some new arrivals are exempt from the civic integration obligation:
- citizens of Member States of the European Union, the European Economic Area or Switzerland and members of their families.
- Newcomers who have already obtained a civic integration certificate
- Newcomers who cannot follow a civic integration path due to serious illness or disability
- Newcomers who have obtained a certificate or diploma in Belgian or Dutch education
- Newcomers who have completed a full school year for non-Dutch speaking newcomers
- Newcomers aged 65 or over
- Migrant workers with a temporary residence permit that can lead to permanent residence.
The last four exemption options do not apply to newcomers who are ministers of a religion in a local church or a religious community recognized by the Flemish authorities.