New laws regarding the removal of foreign nationals legally residing in Belgium who represent a threat to the public order or national security
Today, two new laws have entered into force. They focus on the procedure to end the residence rights and organized the removal of foreign nationals legally residing in Belgium for reasons of public order or national security.
Two new laws entered into force on 29 April 2017: The law of 24 February 2017 modifying the law of 15 December 1980 on the entry, residence, settlement and removal of foreign nationals in order to reinforce the protection of public order and national security; and the law of 15 March 2017 modifying article 39/79 of the law of 15 December 1980.
The main aim of these laws is to facilitate the procedure when ending a foreign national’s residence rights (of more than 3 months) and organizing her/his removal for reasons of public order and national security.
The changes introduced by these laws include – inter alia:
All foreign nationals authorized to reside in Belgium for longer than three months (except beneficiaries of international protection) can now lose their residence rights and be removed for reasons of public order or national security, according to more or less strict conditions depending on the residence status and/or the length of stay in Belgium of the concerned persons. This is also the case for foreign nationals who were born in Belgium or who moved to Belgium before the age of 12 (within certain limits). In all cases, the foreign national must represent a genuine, present and sufficiently serious threat affecting one of the fundamental interests of society. A conviction is not always necessary.
An order to leave the territory can be issued to these foreign nationals together with an entry ban, which duration can vary case by case, and can now exceed 10 years.
Foreign nationals whose residence rights were ended on the basis of imperative reasons of public order or national security can no longer benefit from an appeal with an automatic suspensive effect.
All foreign nationals can be protected against a removal in certain cases, in the framework of the procedural safeguards foreseen, including: nature of the reasons of public order or national security justifying the end of the residence rights (simple, serious or imperative); genuine, present and sufficiently serious threat; modalities aiming at respecting the right to be heard; the principle of proportionality; possible remedies (possibility to introduce a request for suspension, including as an emergency measure), etc.