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Belgium (finally) grants 12 months resident permits to international graduates

On 24 June, the Belgian federal parliament approved the bill transposing the EU directive 2016/801 of the European Parliament and of the Council on the conditions of entry and residence of third-country nationals for the purposes of research, studies, training, voluntary service, pupil exchange schemes or educational projects and au pairing (recast) international students. Based on this bill, third-country nationals graduating this summer from a higher education institution in Belgium will be able to extend their residence permit by 12 months in order to search for a job or to start own a business. Students can apply for an orientation year as of 15 August 2021. 

The Flemish universities and universities of applied sciences and arts have been waiting for this decision for a long time. Similar arrangements are already in place for some time in more than half of the EU member states (for more details, see ACA Newsletter – Education in Europe, September 2019). While having third-country educated nationals contribute to Belgium’s labour market benefits the country, the prospect of an orientation year after graduation is also an important argument for international students to choose Belgium as a study destination. 

More information about the orientation year can be found on the website of Study In Flanders.