Even though a work permit must be applied for, an au pair is not an employee. A work permit must be applied for because there is no specific administrative procedure for au pairs. The government has chosen to use the existing procedure for work permits.
If the application for a work permit is approved, the work permit will be used to submit a visa application to the Belgian Embassy in order to travel to Belgium. As soon as the au pair arrives in Belgium, they must apply to the municipality for a residence card.
The work permit is only valid in Belgium and for only one host family. This work permit does not allow the au pair to look for another paid job. In case of a rematch, a new work permit has to be applied for by the second host family.
Are you exempt from a tourist visa?
In principle, the au pair candidate must stay in their country of origin (or the country where they have legal residence) until the work permit has been approved. Citizens of countries exempt from needing a tourist visa may come to Belgium and apply for a work permit here. Although this is perfectly possible, we strongly advise you not to come to Belgium without the corresponding work permit.
Coming to Belgium as a tourist is very risky for an au pair candidate:
- You have not yet been permitted to work.
- You are not yet officially an au pair.
- There is no-one who is responsible for your stay in Belgium.
- You do not have medical insurance yet.
- There is a real possibility that you will be exposed to abuse.
- If after three months, you have not been issued with a work permit, your residence in Belgium will be illegal and you will not have any chance of making it legal.