Study in Belgium
Belgium is a country that can offer you a fantastic study experience. Despite its size, the country has a big cultural history and has over 11 million residents. It’s also the home of the European Union (EU) and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), making it a political hub. Located in Western Europe and bordering with Germany, Luxembourg, France and the Netherlands, Belgium can be roughly divided into three separate areas. In the northern area of Flanders they speak mainly Dutch (Flemish), in the Southern area of Wallonia they speak mainly French, and in the Brussels-Capital area most people speak both French and Dutch. Belgium is a densely populated country, and is a welcoming environment for international students.
There are many excellent higher education institutions throughout Belgium, offering high quality education at all levels. You will find 7 Belgian universities in the QS World University Ranking top 500, and 4 of these are in the top 200! The top ranked is KU Leuven, coming in at 71st place. Institutions in Belgium cater well for international students, and you would be in the perfect place to explore Europe throughout your studies.
Due to the country’s small size, there is little regional difference in climate. All areas benefit from cool summers and moderate winters that are heavily influenced by the North Sea and Atlantic Ocean.
The top tourist attractions in Belgium include:
• Grand Palace (Brussels)
• The Citadel (Dinant)
• Mini Europe (Brussels)
There are both public and private institutions in Belgium, and your tuition fee will depend on which of these you choose. If you are from an EU/EEA country and choose to go to public institution, you can expect to pay around €850 per year. If you are from any other country, you can expect to pay between €1,000 and €4,000 per year. For a master’s or doctorate degree, most students will have to pay an application fee. A private institution will most likely charge more than this. There are scholarships available, but they are competitive. For more information, contact your chose institution.
Your living costs will depend on where you choose to live, as well as whether you stay in university accommodation or private accommodation. On average, your living costs can be between €750 and €1,100 per month. This includes accommodation, travel, groceries and course equipment.
You may be able to get a part-time job in order to help with your living costs, depending on where you are from. If you are from an EU/EEA country, you will most likely be able to work without any additional permissions. If you are from any other country, you may need to seek permission in the form of a work permit in order to work during your studies, and will probably be allowed to work up to 20 hours. Your university will be able to provide information about this.
Another cost that needs to be considered is health insurance. If you are an EHIC holder, you will be able to access healthcare at the same price as Belgian citizens once you have joined a ‘mutuelle’. If you do not hold an EHIC, you will need to either purchase health insurance, or ensure that your current policy is valid for your stay in Belgium. You will then need to join a ‘mutuelle’ to receive healthcare benefits.
If you are applying for a course taught in any of the official languages of Belgium, you will need to have advanced language skills, and be able to pass language proficiency tests. If you are applying for a course taught in English, you will also need to pass an English language test. These tests will make sure that your language skills will meet the required standards for learning. It is common for institutions to offer courses to improve your language skills if you are not able to pass proficiency tests.
Should I learn to speak another language in Belgium?
Depending where one settles in Belgium, it may be necessary to learn a little French or Dutch. Brussels is a bilingual city and the majority of its citizens speak French or Dutch. However, most English-speaking expats moving to the city will find they can get by without learning another language.
Is Belgium a good place to bring children?
Belgium is a great place to raise children. The communities are safe and the education system is excellent - transferring between EU schools is easy and there are plenty of international schools in Belgium, particularly in Brussels. Public medical facilities are world-class and the quality of life in Belgium is second to none.
What is the weather like in Belgium?
Belgium’s climate can best be described as mild and temperate. The coastal region sees a mild and humid year-round climate but the climate varies the further inland one goes. The average annual temperature is 46°F (8°C), while Brussels averages around 50°F (10°C) ranging from 37°F (3°C) in January to around 64°F (18°C) in July.
How safe is Belgium?
Belgium is safe but there are the usual incidents of petty crime such as muggings and pickpocketing, particularly in Brussels at major railway stations and on public transport. Belgian law enforcement and security maintain a solid anti-terrorism effort and a peaceful environment for tourists and business, but Brussels has experienced deadly terrorist attacks in recent years which have heightened fears in the country. Because Brussels is home to a number of international organisations, including the EU and NATO, expats living here should remain aware that some of these buildings could be targeted for indiscriminate terrorist attacks.
Can my biometric data for the Schengen Visa (Type C) be re-used for a Long-term Visa (type D) and vice-versa?
D Visa are national visa. The biometric data which are registered for a type D visa, will therefore not be available in the Visa Information System (VIS). As a consequence, they cannot be re-used for a Schengen (Type C) Visa. Nor can the biometric data which were taken for a Schengen Visa (Type C) be re-used for a type D Visa.
Why are the biometric data being taken for a Visa type D?
Biometric data will gradually become part of the normal procedure for any visa application (for both Schengen and Long Stay Visa). Collecting your biometric data, has several advantages: you will be identified as the only entitled holder of this visa. It protects you against falsification or identity theft (in case of theft or loss of passport for example) and will facilitate the crossing of the outer Schengen borders.
What is the procedure for biometric data for a Visa type D?
As a consequence of a change of Art. 30Bis of the Law of 15 December 1980, starting 01/12/2018, all applicants aged 6 or more, applying for a long stay visa (type D) for Belgium, will need to personally present themselves in order to have their biometric data (all 10 fingerprints and a digital photograph) registered at the Belgian Embassy in Berlin.
What is a Visa?
A Visa is an authorization issued by the representative of the Government of a country permitting a person not resident in that country to enter its boundaries.
Who issues Visas for Belgium in India?
In India, The Embassy of Belgium in New Delhi and The Consulate General of Belgium in Mumbai are the sole representatives of Belgium, who issue visas for their country.
How do I know if I need a visa?
Depending on your length of stay and purpose of travel, you should log on to the website of the Embassy/Consulate of Belgium to check if you are eligible/require a visa.
Is the visa valid for Belgium only?
The Embassy and Consulate General of Belgium issues visas for Belgium and Schengen visa which is common to all Schengen States. The Schengen visa issued by the Embassy/Consulate gives an applicant access to 25 Schengen countries in totality.
However, the Schengen Visa applications will only be accepted by Belgium Visa Application Centre if Belgium is the country of maximum stay. Should the duration of the stay be the same in several Schengen States, then Belgium must be the first point of entry.
Who is VFS Global Services Pvt. Ltd.?
VFS Global Services Pvt. Ltd. is the preferred outsourced partner to Embassy & Consulate General of Belgium in India. VFS Global Services Pvt. Ltd’s Belgium Application Centers function as collection and processing centers for Belgian Visas.
How can I contact the Belgium Visa Application Centre?
You can contact a Belgium Visa Application Centre via our Helpline, Email or in person. Please see the contact information section of our website for our telephone number, email & contact address with centre timings.
How early can I apply?
Applicants are free to apply up to 90 days prior to their date of travel. The Embassy/Consulate recommends that you apply at least 3 weeks prior to your date of travel to accommodate any unplanned processing delays.
Can the Belgium Visa Application Centre prepare my application for me?
The Belgium Visa Application Centre does not prepare visa applications, but accepts and processes applications in accordance with the Embassy/Consulate’s instructions.
What is the application procedure at the Belgium Visa Application Centre?
Applicants / Travel Agents / Representatives are given a token at the entrance by our Security. Token numbers are displayed by the token display in accordance with number being processed to help you know when it’s your turn to be assisted.
Our officers at the counter will collect your visa application form to check for completion and to check if the photograph meets our required specifications. Your passport will be checked for validity, empty pages and previous travel information.
Your fees will be collected in accordance with the visa category you have chosen and the documents you submit will be arranged in the manner in which they are required by the Embassy/Consulate. Once your application is processed, you will be given a receipt for the fees received and an acknowledgement for the passport that we have accepted. You will also be informed about our collection procedure before you leave our counters.
Which visa [category] should I apply for?
The Belgium Visa Application Centre is an acceptance centre and does not advise/recommend any visa type to a prospective applicant. The Applicant will have to find out the visa category he is eligible for based on the purpose of travel. He/she can do so by visiting the websites of the Embassy/Consulate General of Belgium which are www.diplomatie.be/newdelhi & www.diplomatie.be/mumbai
What are the documents required for a Belgium Visa?
After selecting an applicable visa category, applicants resident in Northern and Eastern India can log on to www.diplomatie.be/newdelhi whereas applicants resident in Western and Southern India can log on to www.diplomatie.be/mumbai or on to the Belgium VFS website http://www.vfs-be-in.com/allaboutyourvisas.html to check the recommended document list for the Visa category they have chosen.
What if I do not have all the documents?
If your application does not have the documents that are recommended by the Embassy/Consulate, you will be asked if you wish to proceed with the application as it is. With your consent, your application will be accepted and processed by us.
What is the payment mode of fees accepted at VFS?
*Applicants applying at VFS Delhi/Chandigarh/Kolkata/Jalandhar/Gurugram - Fee can be paid only by cash.
*Applicants applying at VFS
Mumbai/Ahmedabad/Bangalore/Cochin/Chennai/Hyderabad/Goa/Pune/Trivandrum/Pondicherry – Visa Fee and VFS Services charges can be paid by Cash and Demand Draft.
Please find Demand Draft favouring as follows:
Visa Fee Demand Draft – VFS BELGIUM SCB A/C NO 24105038027
VFS Service Charges Demand Draft – VFS GLOBAL SERVICES PVT LTD
Note: Visa Fee DD and VFS Service charges DD cannot be clubbed together. Separate DD for each applicant in case of group/family submission.
What proof will I have that the Belgium Visa Application Centre has my visa application?
When your application is registered in our system, you will be issued a receipt for the fees that you have paid and an acknowledgement receipt of the acceptance of your passport will be given to you.
Will the Belgium Visa Application Centre give me acknowledgement of the documents that I have submitted?
The Belgium Visa Application Centre will not issue any documents other that the receipts for fees collected to an applicant.
Can the Belgium Visa Application Centre courier my passport back?
The Belgium Visa Application Centre can also courier your application to you as long as the address provided by you is serviceable by our courier partners, Blue Dart Couriers.
You will be asked if you would like your application couriered back to you at time your application is being registered in our system. You may make your preference known at that time itself as once your receipt is issued; we are unable to change your mode of return of your application after it has been processed.
Is the courier service charged?
The courier facility is an optional service with an additional fee of Rs. 300/-(inclusive of applicable taxes) per visa application. This fee has to be paid at the time your document is being registered and cannot be opted for later.
Will I get my visa at the end of the process?
As an application centre, the Belgium Visa Application Centre will not be able to guarantee you a visa. The issuance or refusal of a visa is the sole prerogative of The Embassy/Consulate General of Belgium. The Belgium Visa Application Centre cannot influence this decision in any way.
Will my fees be refunded if my visa is refused?
All fees are non-refundable and will not be returned if your visa application is refused by the Embassy/Consulate.
Who should I contact to find out why I was refused?
You will receive a letter from the Embassy/Consulate of Belgium in your return application which will mention the reasons for refusal.
But the Refusal letter in not in English; will the Belgium Visa Application Centre translate this for me?
The applicant will have to get the refusal letter translated externally as the Belgium Visa Application Centre is not authorized to interpret this information.
Are there any Embassy/Consulate authorized Translators?
You are free to approach any bonafide Translator for the translation of your letter/documents. The Belgium Visa Application Centre does not have any information of Translators recommended by the Embassy/Consulate of Belgium.
When can I reapply; is there a timeframe after the refusal that I must to reapply?
You are free to reapply at any time if your application has been refused earlier. There is no time gap to be observed after a Refusal to make a fresh application. However, it is recommended that you meet the reasons for the earlier Refusal before submitting a new application.
What if I want to appeal against the refusal?
Follow the instructions which are laid out in the refusal letter which is sent to you in case your visa has been refused.
Can my application be processed on the same day that I submit it at the Belgium Visa Application Centre?
Applications cannot be processed on the same day unless authorized by the Embassy/Consulate. Requests for Emergency visa processing cannot be accommodated.
I live in Bangalore; can I submit my application in the Mumbai Centre instead of Bangalore Centre?
For the convenience of its applicants, the Consulate General of Belgium has made provisions for an additional Visa Application Centre in Bangalore . Applicants residing in Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Lakshadweep are strongly advised to submit their visa application via the Bangalore centre.
What if I am not happy with the response I receive from the person on the helpline?
You can ask for the Supervisor/Manager at any time during your enquiry if you are unhappy with the response you have received.
Are there are special safety concerns I should be aware of?
You should always use your best judgment when in a foreign country, just as you would at home. The following basic safety guidelines should be observed:
• Be aware of local laws and act in a responsible manner.
• Do not leave your bags or belongings unattended at any time.
• When you travel, use a security pouch to carry your passport, credit cards and travellers’ cheques.
• Be aware of your surroundings and know your way around.
• Do not handle or display large amounts of money openly.
• Be inconspicuous in dress and demeanour; try to blend in.
• Try speaking the local language, even with other Study Abroad students.
• Avoid consuming large amounts of alcohol that will impair your judgment.
• Never use, handle or distribute controlled or illegal substances; the punishments in some countries can be very severe.
• Do not hitchhike. We also recommend that students do NOT drive while abroad.
• Use the same precautions for HIV/AIDS/STDs and unwanted pregnancy as you would at home. Be aware that the quality of some contraceptives in some counties is unreliable. Act responsibly!
• Always try to travel in small groups.
• Be careful how late you come home at night.
• Know where to find the nearest embassy/consulate of your country of origin.
• Be wary of people who seem overly friendly or interested in you.
• Observe local traffic laws – in some countries they drive on the left side of the road.