Au Pair Work in Belgium
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In order to stay as an au pair worker in Belgium, young foreigners must have a valid work permit in their possession. This condition does not apply to nationals of a Member State of the European Economic Area (the countries of the European Union plus Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein) and Switzerland.
Belgian host families, on the other hand, have to apply for an employment authorization and a B work permit if they want to host an au pair. On the basis of this employment authorization, the young person can apply for a visa.
Nationals of all countries (except the European Union States, Iceland, Monaco, Norway, Liechtenstein and Switzerland) who wish to stay in Belgium for more than three months are subject to a visa requirement. They must expressly apply in advance for a special type of visa (the temporary residence permit): the Schengen visa type D. The application must be made at the Belgian diplomatic or consular posts of the country in which the visa applicant is domiciled.
A foreigner wishing to work as an au pair in Belgium must be in possession of a passport valid for at least one year, a recent certificate of good conduct covering the last five years, a medical certificate obtained from a doctor approved by the embassy and an employment authorization. This employment authorization must be applied for by the Belgian host family and is issued together with the B work permit. In addition, the application must be submitted in time to allow the Immigration Office to carry out a possible investigation.
Employment authorization and B work permit
The host family wishing to employ a foreign au pair must apply for an employment authorization and a B work permit from the Immigration Service of the region where the host family lives. Application forms must be accompanied by a medical certificate and an employment contract.
The granting of the employment authorization and the work permit is subject to the following conditions:
- the respect by the young au pair and the host family of the conditions mentioned below;
- the host family does not have a valid employment authorization for another young au pair;
- the period of validity of the employment authorization and the work permit for the au pair may not exceed one year;
- the employment authorization and the work permit for the young au pair may be renewed only once and insofar as the placement does not exceed a total duration of one year;
- a change of host family is possible only once and insofar as the duration of the placement of the young au pair does not exceed a total duration of one year and insofar as all the other conditions of granting are fulfilled.
After approval by the Immigration Service, the work permit will be issued to the host family via the town administration of the family's place of residence, which can then give it to the young au pair.
The refusal of the employment authorization is notified to the host family by registered letter. In this case, an appeal may be lodged with the competent regional minister within one month of receiving the refusal.
The term "au pair" refers to a young person who is temporarily accommodated in a family where he/she is provided with board and lodging in return for light family duties, with a view to improving his/her language skills and increasing his/her general culture through a better knowledge of the country by participating in the life of the host family.
The young au pair must:
- be at least eighteen years of age and not have reached the age of twenty-six at the date of the granting of the employment authorization and work permit;
- undertake not to hold any job in Belgium during the period of the au pair placement;
- be the holder of a qualification which gives him/her access to higher education in the country of origin or provide evidence that he/she has attended school at least until the age of 17;
- have a basic knowledge of the host family's language or undertake to acquire this basic knowledge by attending an intensive language course immediately after arrival in Belgium;
- follow, during the period of the au pair placement, courses in an establishment recognised, approved or subsidised by one of the Communities or determined by the regional minister responsible for employment, and teaching the language(s) of the region in which he/she has come to improve his/her knowledge by providing a quarterly certificate of effective attendance at these courses;
- have not yet been granted a work permit in Belgium.
The host family must:
- provide the au pair with a single room and free access to the house;
- have contracted for the benefit of the young au pair an insurance covering the risks relating to medical, pharmaceutical and hospitalisation expenses in case of illness or accident;
- let the young au pair have at least one full day of rest per week and full opportunity to participate in the exercise of his/her religion or philosophical views;
- pay the au pair a monthly sum of at least 450 € by bank transfer, as pocket money;
- have among its members at least one child who has not reached the age of 13 at the beginning of the period of stay of the young au pair;
- for children who have not yet reached the age of six, provide proof that their day care was planned for a period corresponding to the maximum duration of the young au pair's stay or for the period until the youngest child reaches the age of six;
- produce a certificate of good conduct for all its members who are of age at the beginning of the period of stay of the young au pair;
- undertake to take out an insurance policy for the possible early repatriation of the young au pair due to illness or accident, as well as to assume the costs which may arise for the State from the stay of the young au pair or from his repatriation;
- agree to allow access to the house to surveillance officials.
The au pair's involvement in daily family tasks, including childcare, may not exceed four hours per day and twenty hours per week. These tasks cannot be the main purpose of the stay.
In case of non-compliance with these conditions, the young au pair is presumed to be engaged in the bonds of a domestic worker's employment contract with the host family.
For families wishing to host an au pair or for young people who want to know more about the system, there are a number of organisations in Belgium that deal with au pair placements. References to these organisations can be found in the businesses telephone book ("Pages d'or") or by consulting certain websites.
In each country, there are organisations that put au pairs in contact with host families. To find a host family, the young person wishing to work as an au pair must contact an organisation in his/her country.