EU seasonal workers no longer required to renew Belgian residence permit after 3 months
Seasonal workers from EU countries will no longer have to renew their residence permits after 3 months of employment on Belgian farms, state secretary for Asylum and Migration Nicole De Moor announced on Wednesday.
The 50,000 seasonal workers working in Belgium must apply to the municipality for a temporary document which allows them to stay for a maximum of three months. But the federal government recently decided to allow those workers to work for up to 100 days, as demand for seasonal labour is high. That meant the workers had to submit a new form with the municipality to extend their stay.
From now on, municipalities will issue temporary residence permits to seasonal workers that coincide with the duration of their so-called 'picking card'. The measure should improve legal certainty for farmers and ease the administrative burden on local administrations.
"This is very important for Belgium's fruit growing and vegetable sectors"
"This is very important for our fruit growing and vegetable sectors," says Lode Ceysens, president of the farmer's association Boerenbond. " Every year, 65,000 people come to pick our produce when it is ripe. Over 50,000 come from an EU country other than Belgium."
Besides classic seasonal labour, most often by Eastern European workers, projects to employ Ukrainian refugees in fruit growing are also underway.
Seasonal workers attending to pear trees in an orchard in Sint-Gillis-Waas. © BELGA PHOTO JONAS D'HOLLANDER