Expatica news

Belgian nationals enjoy more rights

8 August 2007

BRUSSELS – Those who hold Belgian nationality have considerably more rights than foreigners in Belgium. The Standaard gives a rundown of what one’s legal status means for one’s rights.

A Belgian may vote and be elected, a foreigner may not. Only Belgians can become police officers, judges or soldiers. A foreigner can only bring his or her spouse and minor children over from abroad to live in Belgium, a Belgian national can also bring his or her parents and grandchildren.

These are just a few of the many rights that are reserved for people with Belgian nationality. Those who become Belgian have reached the top of the pyramid of rights. At the very bottom are the illegal aliens, and in between are the legal aliens with temporary or permanent residency. The farther one moves up the pyramid, the more rights one gains.

Only Belgians have the right to vote and be elected. An exception to this rule is municipal elections. Foreigners, even those from outside the EU, are allowed to participating in these elections as long as they have a valid residence permit and are registered. In European elections citizens of other EU states living in Belgium may choose whether to vote in Belgium or their home country.

Only Belgian nationals or EU citizens may hold a position as civil servant. Foreigners may be hired in by the government as contractual employees – but there are not many of these. Some government positions are exclusively reserved for Belgians, explains Bart De Wolf, staff member at the Flemish Centre for Minorities (VMC).

These positions are those which exercise public authority, like police officers, magistrates, bailiffs, soldiers, public notaries, diplomats and government ministers.

Anyone who holds Belgian nationality is allowed on Belgian territory and cannot be refused permission to live permanently in the country. A Belgian can move to Spain for five years for instance and return without his resident rights being compromised. A foreigner however, even one with permanent residency, loses that right after living abroad for one year. Conviction of a serious felony can also lead to a foreigner losing his right to live in Belgium; this does not apply for a Belgian national.

A Belgian cannot be deported or extradited, and has the right to support from his embassy abroad if he finds himself in difficulty.

Belgians have the right to social security. Foreigners can also claim benefits, but to a lesser degree and dependent on their situation. A legalised alien is not entitled to the family benefit, disability benefit, minimum pension or benefits specifically for young people who have completed their study but not yet found a job. Belgian nationals and recognised asylum seekers are eligible for these benefits.

The right to family reunification is also broader for a Belgian. A foreigner can only bring his or her partner and minor children over from abroad, a Belgian can bring adult children, parents, grandparents and grandchildren as well.

[Copyright Expatica News 2007]

Subject: Belgian news