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Belgium

Study Law in Belgium 2023

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Basic monthly living cost

  • Rent in a shared flat

    390
  • Share of utilities

    57
  • Internet subscription

    48
  • Local transportation

    49

Sample lifestyle cost

  • Fast food combo

    9
  • Cinema ticket

    11
  • Pint of local beer

    4

About Belgium

The European Union's founding member Belgium (The Kingdom of Belgium) is located in Western Europe and hosts important international organizations such as the EU Headquarters and NATO. Representing a distinct cultural border separating Latin European countries and Germanic countries, Belgium is home to French-speaking Belgians, Dutch-speaking Flemish Belgians, and to a German-Speaking community as well. The language diversity and long history of political conflicts over the past five centuries has combined to give Belgium a complex government composed of federal parliamentary democratic and constitutional monarchy principles.

Consisting of the Chamber of Representatives and the Senate, Belgium's federal parliament contains appointed representatives, elected politicians and the king's children, who are considered "Senators by Right". Belgium is also one of the few countries in the world that has compulsory voting, which naturally provides it with exceptionally high voter turnout rates.

Belgium's head of state is the King, although his power is limited to appointing the Prime Minister (with a vote of confidence from the Chamber of Representatives) along with several other prerogatives. Originating from tenets of the Napoleonic Code, Belgium's judicial system is supported by civil law, with the Court of Cassation and the Court of Appeals representing the country's highest courts.

Belgium's Legal System

Four levels of ordinary courts exist in Belgium: the "Tribunal de Première Instance" (lower level juvenile criminal and civil court), "Tribunal des Juges de Paix" and "Tribunal de Police"--civil and criminal court, respectively. Recently, the government added a tax court or chamber to the Tribunal de Première Instance that decides litigations concerning business and personal tax issues. Only one Belgian court has a jury--the Cour d'Assises--which hears serious offenses such as manslaughter, kidnapping and murder. Punishment for serious offenses involve appropriate prison sentences as determined by a jury, since the death penalty has been abolished since 1996.

Although Belgian law closely follows France's law system, languages used during court proceedings, whether it is French or Dutch, depends on where the court is located in Belgium. However, both languages are used in Brussels courts.

Study in Belgium

Earning a Law Degree in Belgium

Earning a law degree in Belgium does not require students pass a pre-entrance examination as is required for a few other degrees. Although the blending of Dutch, French and some German higher education institutions in Belgium may be confusing, they have all adopted regulations provided by the Bologna process, which entails the same kind of Bachelor's, Master's and Doctorate degree system followed by other European countries. Admission to the Belgian Bar is permitted after five years of studying law, or upon earning a Master of Law (LLM).

Tuition Fees

The government of Belgium regulates higher education tuition fees for all public universities or colleges. These fees are based on the ability of the student (or the student's family) to pay an amount commiserate with income. For example, low-income (Bursary) students receive full financial aid packages and usually pay a tuition rate of 100 euros ($135 USD). Students considered "non-bursary" pay full tuition fees 600 euros ($800 USD). Once again, these rates may vary from one law school to the other.

Employment Opportunities

Recently, the unemployment rate in Belgium dropped considerably as the recession in the U.S. and Europe has finally begun to improve, an encouraging sign that has also prompted the Bank of England to consider increasing interest rates. Consequently, employment opportunities for law students wanting to practice law in Belgium should remain consistent with the rapidly improving economy and job market.

Visa Requirements

For non-EU/EEA/Swiss nationals who want to study in Belgium for a period exceeding 90 days.

What type of Visa do you need?

Visa name

Visa D (national long-stay visa)

Price and currency

USD 200

You can expect to pay $200 or more for processing your visa application. The fees are subject to change.

Who can apply for the visa?

If you are an EU/EEA/Swiss citizen, you don’t need a visa to study in Belgium. However, you should be enrolled at a recognized university or institution of higher education as their main occupation in Belgium, have sufficient funds to cover expenses while studying in Belgium, and have adequate health insurance coverage.

If you are a national from a country outside the EU/EEA/Switzerland, you will most likely need to apply for one in order to enroll as a student of higher education there for a period of longer than three months. Students from some countries (such as the US) are not required to obtain a visa for Belgium if their stay is no longer than 90 days.

Before you can apply to get a Belgian student visa, you will generally need to be accepted into a course or study program by a recognized Belgian university or education institution.

Students from the People’s Republic of China must obtain an academic evaluation certificate issued by the Academic Assessment Centre (APS) before being authorized to enroll in a higher education institution in Belgium. This APS certificate is required to obtain a student visa for Belgium. The examination consists of a technical assessment of your diploma and an interview.

Where can you make the application?

Belgium embassy or consulate

You should apply for your student visa at the Belgium embassy or consulate in your home country.

Website:

How to make the application?

Before applying for a student visa for Belgium, you first need to be accepted onto a course at an accredited educational institution and pay the registration fees (this will be refunded if your visa application is rejected). If you are an international student, you will then need to contact your nearest Belgian embassy or consulate in your country. The embassy will help you determine whether you need a student visa and will guide you through the visa application.

For your student visa application, you may be asked to provide the following:

  • a valid passport/travel ID;
  • proof that you have a place at a recognized institution;
  • copies of educational certificates;
  • details about the course;
  • evidence of sufficient funds to cover your living costs, study, healthcare and repatriation costs (EUR 617 per month for the 2015-2016 study year);
  • a medical certificate;
  • proof that you don’t have a criminal record if you’re older than 21 years.

To prove your acceptance at a recognized institution, you can provide one of the following:

  • the official confirmation of registration for the program;
  • an attestation which indicates you have access to the anticipated studies;
  • proof of your registration for the entrance examinations.

You may also be asked to provide a letter outlining why you have chosen your particular course, why you want to study in Belgium and how this will benefit you. Additionally, you may also be asked to show some language proficiency in the language the course will be taught in.

Within eight days of your arrival to Belgium, you must visit your local municipal administration offices/town hall (maison communale/gemeentehuis) to request your residence permit and be registered on the foreigner's population register.

When should you apply?

For a long stay study visa, it is recommended that you make an appointment at the embassy at least two months before your departure. For a short stay visa, make an appointment at least 3 weeks before your departure.

The length of the student visa depends on the course length. You can apply to renew your residence permit yearly, approximately 30 to 45 days before its expiry date.

Processing time

2 Months

Work opportunities

If you’re a foreign student enrolled at a Belgian educational institution and have a valid residence permit you can work up to 20 hours a week during term time, as long as it does not interfere with your studies. You will need to get a written fixed-term contract from your employer, which is known as a ‘student employment contract’, and a type C work permit. Otherwise, you can work during official university holidays without the need for a Belgian work permit.

Hours per week

20

Why do you need this type of visa?

Your visa application can be rejected if you have previous criminal history or if you have been deported from the EU. Another reason for rejection is if your documents proving that you will be student are missing or not complete.

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