School-leaver in professional integration period who would like to continue studying? Or a jobseeker who would still like to obtain a degree? Which conditions do you have to fulfil?
Would you like to continue your studies during your professional integration period?
During your professional integration period, you are not allowed to do a course with a full-time study curriculum. This means that you may not enrol with a diploma contract, a credit contract or an exam contract for a programme worth 27 study credits or more. If you embark on such a course, this will interfere with the validity of your professional integration period, even if you are taking evening courses or studying at the weekend.
What happens if you decide to take a course with a full-time curriculum?
In principle, you will lose any time credit earned during your professional integration period by starting your studies. After your new course, you will have to go through a completely new professional integration period.
Which courses can you follow during the professional integration period?
The only courses which are not permitted during the professional integration period are those with a full-time curriculum.
However, you may enrol with a diploma contract, a credit contract or an exam contract on a programme worth less than 27 study credits.
This must be a ‘new’ course. You cannot continue a full-time course that you previously started but never finished. The continuation - without a one-year interruption - of a course cycle which was not completed prevents the professional integration period from starting, even if you enrol with a contract for under 27 study credits.
For example: You failed some modules during the last year of your course and you decide to enrol with a diploma contract or an exam contract for 23 study credits during your repeat year: your professional integration period cannot start because you have not yet graduated.
Courses which are not considered full-time include post-academic study programmes (PAVOs) which only entitle you to a certificate.
You can combine these with your professional integration period.
Please note: you can take these programmes (PAVOs or programmes worth less than 27 credits) provided you are still available for the labour market and thus agree to accept any suitable job offer by the Flemish Public Employment and Vocational Training Service (VDAB).
Can you do an internship in Belgium during the professional integration period?
- You are allowed to do an unpaid internship in a professional environment (business, non-profit association or other) in Belgium during the professional integration period provided it is a short internship (less than four weeks) and that you are still available for the labour market. You do not have to notify the National Employment Office (RVA) of the internship.
- A longer internship is also possible if you can prove to the RVA that this internship will increase your chances of employment.
- Internships which are required in certain professions (lawyer, notary public, architect, pharmacist, and so on) and internships which are not related to your professional integration in any way (cultural exchanges, on a farm, etc.) cannot be combined with the professional integration period.
What about international internships?
Other rules apply to international internships. During your professional integration period you are entitled to do the following abroad as a young jobseeker:
- Take courses or lessons
- Do an internship in a professional environment (business, NGO or other)
The lessons, courses or internships must be seen to increase your chances of professional integration in the labour market.
You can use form C36,5 to find out whether the internship or course you are interested in will allow you to continue your professional integration period. The time spent abroad studying or doing an internship will be considered equivalent to the professional integration period.
If the RVA approves your request then you can refuse job offers. If you do receive a job offer, you may have to submit a copy of form C36,5 to the VDAB.
If your internship or studies abroad have not yet ended at the end of the professional integration period and you would like to continue your internship or studies, you will have to request an exemption as a 'jobseeker' after the professional integration period (= exemption from availability for the labour market). You can apply for this via VDAB
If the exemption is denied then you can complete your course by using up all your holiday. You cannot complete an internship without an exemption. In principle, the exemption is granted for a limited period of time only (max. 3 months per calendar year).
Where can you download the required documents for the application?
All the forms mentioned in this text can be downloaded from the RVA's website.
Which courses can you take as a jobseeker?
You can combine courses which are not considered to be full-time with a jobseeker's allowance without having to request permission from the VDAB.
- Enrolling with a diploma contract or credit contract for less than 27 study credits.
- Enrolling with an exam contract regardless of the number of study credits. Enrolling with an exam contract in combination with another contract is not permitted if the combined contracts amount to more than 27 study credits. In that case, the student needs to get an exemption from VDAB.
- Post-academic study programmes and postgraduate programmes which only entitle you to a certificate.
Please note: you can take these courses on condition that you continue to be registered as a jobseeker and are still available for the labour market.
You cannot embark on studies with an exam contract and subsequently continue with a diploma contract and request an exemption (for example from your 2nd year onwards, when you meet all the conditions for an exemption). You will be denied an exemption in this case. The situation at the start of the course is always taken into account.
Are you a jobseeker who would like to enrol on a full-time course?
You can only do this if you receive an exemption from VDAB.
What are the conditions for obtaining an exemption?
In order to apply for an exemption for higher education there has to be an enrollment for either a diploma- or creditcontract for at least 27 credits. For more information you can check https://www.vdab.be/vrijstellingen/niet-erkend.
What are the formalities?
To obtain the exemption you must apply for it with VDAB (the application has to have a study certificate). You can find this certificate at http://www.vdab.be/vrijstellingen.
When do you need to apply for the exemption?
You need to submit the application to the VDAB before the start of your studies. Please note: study certificates will be filled in only after enrollment and payment of the registration fee.
What does the exemption mean for you in practice?
If you have obtained an exemption you will no longer need to be registered as a jobseeker or available for the labour market. You do have to keep your status as jobseeker and respect the agreements wich you made with the VDAB negotiator.
Jobseeker's allowance in combination with other forms of funding
You can combine your jobseeker's allowance with scholarships from the Flemish Community, but not with a family allowance.
Call the free number 0800 30 700 ( Each workday from 8 untill 19 hours) or mail to email@example.com. You can also contact your VDAB negotiator for more information.