Long integration waiting lists eliminated

The Agency for Integration and Civic Integration has eliminated long waiting lists for integration courses for foreigners. As a result, for the first time, the number of people unable to enter a course has now fallen below the threshold set by Flemish minister of Integration Bart Somers (Open Vld).

In 2019, 9,500 people were on a waiting list, and now two out of three people integrating into the Belgian system can start within three months, the agency reported on Wednesday. Fewer than 1,000 people integrating had to wait longer than six months.

The agency ended the historically long lists by offering the course online and in 25 languages. Lessons can now also be taken at weekends. "A quarter of the students attend classes in the evening and a third at the weekend," says Somers. "Because the courses on how our society works are now also offered online, newcomers can combine this with work or education." ​

Flemish integration courses offer social orientation on Belgian culture and norms, a Dutch language course and individual guidance in the search for education or work.

The total number of people taking the courses increased by 21 per cent in 2022 compared to the previous year. The agency had 35,720 newcomers in 2022, almost a fifth of whom signed an integration contract for the first time that year, resulting in a 9 per cent decrease on 2021.

The rising number of integration students is mainly a result of the increase in migrant workers, the agency reports. "Labour migrants are entitled to an integration course but are not obliged to follow it. They sign a contract less than other individuals, such as family reunification seekers and refugees," said the agency.

After a successful process, newcomers who pass the social orientation test and an introductory Dutch course and are registered with the Flemish employment services VDAB receive an integration certificate.


#FlandersNewsService | © JEFF PACHOUD / AFP

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