Only a few weeks left for the British nationals working/residing in Belgium on 31 December 2020 to obtain the status of Beneficiary of the Withdrawal Agreement
26/11/2021

British nationals who exercised their right to free movement before 1 January 2021 may, pursuant to the Withdrawal Agreement concluded between the United Kingdom and the European Union, retain their right of residence and right to work in Belgium if they were resident in Belgium or were active here as a frontier worker before 1 January 2021. 

In order for these workers/residents to retain their acquired rights, they must obtain the status of “Beneficiary of the Withdrawal Agreement”.

Since the application to obtain this status must be submitted by 31 December 2021, there are only a few weeks left to do so!

Due to Brexit, British nationals are considered third-country nationals and must therefore, in principle, obtain a special authorisation to work/reside in Belgium.

However, the Withdrawal Agreement, concluded by the United Kingdom and the European Union shortly before Brexit took effect, contains a number of provisions allowing British nationals and their family members who have exercised their right to free movement before the end of the transition period to retain their right of residence.

Thus, British nationals and their family members who were residing or working as frontier workers in Belgium before 1 January 2021 may retain their right of residence and right to work in Belgium.

However, these rights can only be maintained if these British nationals and their family members submit an application for the status of “Beneficiary of the Withdrawal Agreement” to the municipality of their place of residence/work no later than 31 December 2021.

Specifically, this concerns the following people:

  • Holders of an E(+) or F(+) card or an Annex 8(+);
  • Frontier workers in possession of an Annex 15;
  • Persons who can prove that they have exercised their right to free movement before 1 January 2021, but who do not have an E(+) card, F(+) card, Annex 8 or Annex 15;
  • Certain family members arriving in Belgium after 31 December 2020: upon presentation of certain documents, they can still qualify for a Beneficiary status for the 3 months after their arrival.

If the application is approved, the Beneficiaries of the Withdrawal Agreement receive an electronic residence card (‘M card’) or an electronic local border traffic card (‘N card’). On the basis of these documents, they can continue to work in Belgium without any restrictions. Employers will therefore not have to apply for a “single permit” or work permit for British employees who hold an M card or an N card. During the procedure, the British employees can continue to reside and work in Belgium on the basis of their current residence documents. However, the validity of these documents will expire on 31 March 2022.
 
Action point
 
If you employ British workers who are eligible for the status of Beneficiary of the Withdrawal Agreement, do urge them to apply to the municipality of their place of residence/employment for this status no later than 31 December 2021 in order to obtain an M card (residence card) or an N card (frontier worker).

Related : Claeys & Engels


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