Have you recently completed your studies at the University of Antwerp? Do you wish to find a job here or start your own business in Belgium? The orientation year is applicable to all non-EU international students who have graduated in a Bachelor, Master or PhD programme and have a valid residence permit.
The official communication by the Belgian Immigration Office can be found here (only in Dutch and French currently).
How to apply
You need to submit your application at the municipality where you have your main residence, at the latest 15 days before the expiry of your residence permit.
The following documents must be submitted with the application:
- a colour copy of a valid international passport
- proof of graduation at a higher education institution in Belgium
- proof of current Belgian health insurance coverage (recent certificate of insurance)
- proof of sufficient financial means
Proof of sufficient financial means: The sufficient financial means for applying for an orientation year is similar to that for a student visa and can be proven on the basis of a new 'Agreement for Acceptance of Financial Responsibility' form (annexe 32) or a blocked account of at least 679 euros per month (amount for 2021, indexed annually). The sufficient means of subsistence can also be proven by an employment contract where the salary covers the total amount required for a blocked account.
Foreign degrees and mobility: If you have obtained your degree at a foreign higher education institution, but have made use of mobility in Belgium (e.g. Erasmus Mundus programme), then you need to submit proof of obtaining a diploma at the higher education institution in the relevant EU Member State and proof that you actually resided in Belgium in the context of the mobility.
No contribution fee is applicable to request this orientation year permit as it is a change of residence status.
Rights and obligations
The orientation year residence permit (A card) is valid for 12 months and cannot be extended. PhD graduates will only be able to apply for an orientation year as
long as they have a residence status as a student.
During the orientation year:
- You have unlimited access to the Belgian labour market.
- You are not eligible to apply for Belgian unemployment benefits; applying for any kind of financial support from the Belgian government might result in an earlier and forced ending of your orientation year.
- You must make effective attempts to find work or in the case of setting up your own business, take the necessary steps to comply with all legal obligations in order to exercise an independent professional activity. The government might ask for proof of you either looking for work or setting up a business. In case you are not able to provide any proof, the government may end this temporary residence permit.
- As soon as you have found a job you need to apply for a combined permit.
Information about the professional card for foreigners and the steps to take to start a business in Belgium:
Assistance offered by the University of Antwerp
When applying for the orientation year you can count on our assistance in the following areas:
1. Application to the City of Antwerp: If you reside in the City of Antwerp or one of its districts, the university's Residence Permit services can assist in submitting your orientation year request to the Student Desk at the Immigration Office. Please send all the documents required to firstname.lastname@example.org.
IOB graduates need to send their documents to email@example.com.
2. Demonstrating sufficient means of subsistence:
a. Annexe 32 - If you have a sponsor who lives in Belgium, the university can help you submit your Annexe 32 form as long as this is provided with essential supporting documentation. This includes:
- a colour copy of your sponsor's passport or ID
- a family composition statement (gezinssamenstelling) issued by the local town hall
- The latest tax form of your sponsor if they self employed, otherwise 3 recent payslips if the sponsor is an employee.
If your sponsor lives outside Belgium they will need to contact the local Belgian embassy to process the Annexe 32 form.
b. Blocked account - If Annexe 32 is not an option and a blocked account is required as proof of sufficient financial means, the university can facilitate this service for all its graduates. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for information on the procedure and to request the application form. Do note that the blocked account procedure is similar to that for students, which means that you will need to transfer 9100 EUR to the university's account and 9000 EUR will be paid out to you in installments (handling fee 100 EUR).
IOB graduates can request a blocked account through email@example.com.
3. Certified true copy of your degree: if you require a certified copy of your University of Antwerp issued degree, the diploma office can certify copies for you if you submit them along with the original diploma. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
4. Proof of graduation: If you have finished your studies but not yet received your diploma, you can request a provisional certificate after the deliberation. This certificate is provided by your faculty's student administration office.