EMN report: Visa policy as migration channel in Belgium

This study examines the impact of the visa policy on legal and illegal migration in Belgium. It is limited to nationals from third countries, with exception of family members of EU nationals or Belgians. Short-stay visas of max. 3 months and D visas for stays of more than 3 months are discussed

About this study:

Although Belgium primarily regards visas as a migration tool (and less as a tool to promote external relations), visas, per se, only constitute a marginal part of discussions on Belgian migration policy. Since the 1974 migration stop, the emphasis is primarily on managing (irregular or legal) migration streams and less on further encouraging migration for economic reasons where visas can, however, play an important role.

We can state that visas cannot contain the entire migration problem, but they are nonetheless an essential tool within migration policy that makes it possible to promote legal migration and combat illegal migration. Moreover, these two aspects can be present simultaneously in the visa procedure without them counteracting one another, on the contrary. In this way, the D visa (Family reunification and students) procedure, where all terms and conditions for residence are examined in advance and which is combined with a relatively flexible procedure for residence, offers benefits from both the promotional and prevention perspectives. For the purposes of a well-balanced visa policy, it therefore seems possible and even advisable not to provide any preventative measures that would cause unreasonable interference for bona fide candidate migrants. There is, however, an increase in the amount of discussion on this at the European level, as is displayed by the VIS and ESTA examples.

Author: Geert Tiri, Belgian Home Office – Immigration Office – International Relations Unit

This study is available in English only.

Publication Date:
Thu 13 Oct 2011
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