There are three types of work permits in Belgium. Type A is delivered to
liberal professions. Type B is delivered to employees and workers. Type C is
delivered to asylum seekers.
What's the point of delivering work permits to asylum seekers?
To answer the question, we should look back to the past. A few years ago,
asylum seekers were not allowed to work in Belgium. An average procedure of
establishing whether the asylum seeker is entitled to the refugee status took a
few years. In the meantime, those people received social aid in the form of
~700€ per person, often accompanied by social housing and various material and
With the number of asylum applications floating between 20.000 and 40.000 each
year, this generosity weighted heavily on the state budget which had to
financially support well over 100.000 asylum seekers at any given time.
The process of granting these people a work permit was carefully crafted to
satisfy different political players. Employers were gaining from the wave of
the low-cost workforce coming to the market. NGOs were satisfied with the
increased integration of the asylum seekers that followed the opening of the
job market to them. Trade unions could not raise their voice due to the
conflict of interests between the local workforce and the human rights
activists within the trade unions themselves.
However, the biggest winner was the state. The delivery of the type C work
permit was linked to the request to discover the real name, the birth date and
the country of origin of the asylum seeker. In the real life, this forced the
asylum seekers to show their passports to the country officials. It already
allowed to filter those searched for by Interpol and people with a criminal past.