Sharp rise in labour cards for foreigners

The number of labour cards - all kinds - issued by the labour department's economic migration service last year was up over a quarter last year. The cards are needed by workers from outside the European Economic Area (EEA). The department says the rise is clearly linked to the influx of refugees in 2016.

The number of labour cards C - a specific category - that are issued to people wishing to work in Belgium but who are already here rose by nearly half last year! The cards were chiefly issued to people seeking official recognition as refugees. People in this category can obtain a labour card after being in the country for four months. 2,229 cards were issued to Afghan nationals, 1,507 to Iraqis and 624 to Syrians.

Labour minister Muyters: "Work remains the best way of integrating into society. We wish to screen refugees quickly, train them and give them support. I am in no illusion. Our efforts won't lead to immediate results. We're in for the long haul. Efforts are required of all those involved."

In order to work as an independent professional people from outside the EEA require a professional card. In 2016 applications were made for 682 cards. In the event 375 cards were issued. The figure is up 19% on the year.