Work and study in Belgium as an international student

Located in the center of Europe, Belgium, although quite small, has a global footprint. Being home of several international organizations, the country is not only a must-see travel destination, it’s also a popular study destination. We’ve dealt previously with the reasons why you should study in Belgium. One of them is the affordable study cost. And for international students who want a greater financial autonomy, there’s also the opportunity to work and study at the same time in Belgium.

Can international students work in Belgium while studying?

The answer is yes! In Belgium, all international students, even those from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) can work and study at the same time. They just need to comply with some conditions while having a valid residence permit. 

To be able to work and study in Belgium, you should: 

  • Be a student enrolled at a college or university in Belgium. You can provide a certificate from your institution to prove you are an official student.
  • Be old enough to be allowed to occupy a job (at least 16 years old)
  • not work at times when you are supposed to be in class
  • keep your studies at the top of your priorities.

How much can a student work in Belgium?

To top up your budget in Belgium as you study, you can work for a maximum of 20 hours per week. This is during the academic year, but during holidays, you can work more than the 20-hour limit. Moreover, student work in Belgium have a contingent limit of 475 hours per year for which they pay a solidarity contribution. 

Besides, you can work and study during the period of validity of your residence permit. Make sure then to apply for this permit in the 8 first weeks upon your arrival in Belgium. You need this residence permit to apply for a work permit, open a bank account and move around in Belgium. 

Learn the procedure in our article on the student visa in Belgium

And of course, you can’t work during class times or when you’re supposed to attend activities related to your studies. Lastly, you can’t work during the summer before the beginning of your program, even if you’ve already set foot in Belgium. 

The Type C work permit in Belgium

For international students to be able to work and study in Belgium, their employer must provide a “student employment contract” as well as a type C work visa. The employment contract is a documented fixed-term contract, the employer needs to send in advance in order for the student to get the work permit C. 

Moreover, only certain categories of foreigners are eligible to get the type C work permit in Belgium. Its purpose is to allow them to stay in the country for other reasons than work, including study. 

Furthermore, unless it’s on vacation time, foreign students who work more than 20 hours a week risk to get in trouble renewing their residence permit. Such infraction might lead the Belgian Foreigners office to consider that the student’s main activity is not their studies anymore. 

Jobs in Belgium for international students

Working while you study in Belgium is a great way to understand the culture of the country and meet new people. Since international students are allowed to work only part-time, the types of job they can get are limited. This depends mostly on their qualification, their previous work experience and their proficiency in the local language. It’s often easier for graduate and postgraduate students than for undergraduate ones. But it’s not impossible. 

Commonly available work opportunities for international students in Belgium include: filling station attendant, working in restaurant, gardening, librarian or even remote jobs where students work from home. 

To find a job and work as a student in Belgium, you can check out websites such as You can also get more information about working as a student on

How much a student can earn in Belgium? 

When it comes to student job salary in Belgium, you have to consider several factors. Starting with the social security contribution which amount depends on the limit of 475 working hours. More precisely, in Belgium, students who work under the annual quota of 475 hours pay only 2.71% of contribution. Usually, from the 476th working hour, the social security contribution is the same as any other employee in Belgium, which is 13.07%.

The other element to take into account is the tax amount. Students in Belgium may earn up to €12,657.14 of gross wage per year. This is the amount after deduction of the minimum solidarity contribution. The amount is also the “tax-free amount”, the amount under which you are exempt from paying tax in Belgium. If you then earn more, a tax deduction applies. 

Moreover, the salary you receive if you work and study in Belgium may also vary depending on the sector you work in. There are industries where the hourly wage is the same for part-time and permanent staff, with no separate wage scale for students. In other sectors, students under the age of 21 earn 94% of the minimum wage. 

Also, it may happen that a sector has collective agreements which makes that every company in that sector pays the same salary. Make sure then to check that information by calling the joint committee number, that you usually find in your student contract.

Can I stay in Belgium after studying? 

After their studies, non-European graduates have 4 post-study work options. And this involves getting either a single permit, a work permit or a professional card. 

Get a residence permit for a search year

The “search year” is an extended 12-month time during which non-European international students can stay in Belgium to search a job. Those who haven’t found an employer willing to back their visa application need to find work immediately after graduation. 

The requirements to be eligible for this residence permit extension include:

  • Belgian residence permit for study purposes
  • Bachelor’s degree, master’s or a doctorate from a Belgian university
  • Health insurance coverage for the duration of the search year
  • Proof of sufficient financial means to sustain you for 12 months

Learn here how much does it cost to live in Belgium as a student.

You should then bring these documents to the city hall of your residence in Belgium, along with your passport. You should do it at least 15 days before the expiration date of your student residence permit. 

Apply for a job as a highly skilled employee

In Belgium, you are a highly qualified worker if you hold a degree from a higher education institution, that took you at least 3 years of study to complete. The second criterion is that you have found a job in Belgium that meets the minimum salary requirement of €36,076.80 to €45,096 per year. 

Moreover, for highly qualified individuals, the employer in Belgium won’t need to do a prior job market investigation. This potential employer then has to apply for a work permit or a single permit on your behalf.

Other post-study work options in Belgium

The 2 other ways you can stay back in Belgium to work after your studies is either to work as a trainee or an intern and to work as a self-employed person. In the case of the internship, the position must be a full-time one and the continuation of your previous study in Belgium. 

For that, you must provide a copy of your diploma when applying for the necessary visa. Moreover, the duration of the internship must not exceed 12 months, and you must provide a contract. 

Lastly, you can start a self-employed activity or become an independent worker in Belgium after graduation. If you are a non-EEA citizen and don’t have a permanent residency in Belgium, you must apply for a professional card. This card gives you the authorization to perform a specific activity for a period of 1 to up to 5 years.

About Herilalao

A versatile freelance content creator and SEO specialist, I have a passion for writing and a knack for optimizing online visibility. I help businesses and individuals enhance their online presence through engaging and well-researched content. From writing informative articles to optimizing websites for search engines, I thrive in finding ways to create and manage content that not only resonates with readers but also boosts visibility and drives organic traffic.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.