Belgium launches amnesty for illegals
Belgium is to launch a new regularisation operation for people who have been in the country for at least five years.
Prime Minister Herman Van Rompuy has released the details of the Federal Government agreement on the regularisation of illegals.
In order to be successful, applicants will have to show they are integrated into the community.
Illegals who have lived in Belgium for at least five years will be able to apply for a regularisation of their situation between 15 September and 15 December.
If successful, they will be granted papers that will allow them to stay in the country legally.
The Secretary of State for Asylum and Immigration, Melchior Wathelet (Francophone Christian Democrat), has the final say.
People who have been working in Belgium for at least two years and a half can also apply for a residence permit. They will have to produce a labour contract and a regional labour card.
Other factors that can count in an applicant's favour include language skills, following a literacy course or having children at school.
"Where is the clarity?"
Bar the ecologists of Groen! all opposition parties have slated the regularisation. The Government had promised clarity regarding the regularisation criteria. All opposition parties say that no clarity has been provided.
They also argue that the Asylum and Immigration Secretary has been given too much discretion.
The Asylum and Migration Forum that defends the interests of illegals has welcomed the accord.
It says that the one-off regularisation will provide a solution for many foreigners who have been living in Belgium in pitiful circumstances for many years.