Guidance for newcomers (civic integration path)
The Flemish authorities want people who move from abroad to Flanders and Brussels to take an active part in our society. The Flemish authorities therefore offer a civic integration path which should help newcomers to build up the necessary knowledge and skills. Civic integration can be seen as a first step to help them to fully play their social role as citizen, parent, employee, entrepreneur…
All newcomers have the right to follow this civic integration path. Some categories of people even must follow such a path.
For underage allophone newcomers (children and young people who are entitled to education for non-Dutch speaking newcomers), civic integration is accomplished through education and not through a civic integration path.
Civic integration is meant for foreigners who are 18 years old or older and who move to Flanders or Brussels to live there. Belgians who were not born in Belgium and who have at least one parent born outside of Belgium are part of the civic integration target group.
Everybody who is part of the civic integration target group is entitled to a civic integration path.
Newcomers required to fulfil the civic integration path
Some newcomers must follow a civic integration path, including:
- foreigners who:
- are 18 years old or older
- are registered in the national population register (‘Rijksregister’)
- live in a municipality situated in the Flemish Region
- have a residence permit valid for more than 3 months for the first time.
- Belgians who:
- are 18 years old or older
- were not born in Belgium
- have at least one parent that was not born in Belgium
- are registered in the national population register for the first time for no longer than 12 consecutive months.
- Allophone underage newcomers:
- who will be 18 years old at the moment when they will not have been registered in the national population register for the first time for 12 consecutive months with a residence permit of more than 3 months
- Newcomers who are ministers of a religion in a local church or religious community recognized by the Flemish authorities.
For these categories of newcomers, the civic integration obligation is valid as long as they do not fulfill the civic integration program.
Warning: the rules concerning the civic integration obligation set out here apply for Flanders. Different rules may apply for Brussels.
In Flanders, the civic integration program consists of:
- a course ‘social orientation’ about life, work, norms and values in Belgium (in a language the learner can understand)
- a Dutch course
- an individual guidance in the search for work, studies… and help for the evaluation of diplomas.
The Flemish Agentschap Integratie en Inburgering (Flemish Agency for Integration and Civic Integration) and the two city agencies in Antwerpen (Atlas) and Gent (IN-Gent) offer the civic integration paths.
The content of the civic integration path is incorporated into a civic integration contract. Anyone who signs a civic integration contract commits to regularly follow the formation program (to attend at least 80% of all classes during each part of the formation).
Anyone who pass the course ‘social orientation’ and the Dutch course receives a civic integration attestation. The newcomers are then guided in their search of a job or of a diploma (vocational training, training to become a self-employed entrepreneur, extra Dutch language classes, other studies…).
Civic integration obligation
Anyone who is required to fulfil the civic integration path must:
- register on time at the competent agency (you will then receive a registration attestation)
- attend at least 80% of all classes
Newcomers required to fulfil the civic integration path who do not fulfill their civic integration obligation risk an administrative fine.
If you are not required to fulfil the civic integration path but you do not respect the civic integration contract you signed, you still risk an administrative fine.
In the Flemish Region, some newcomers are exempted from the civic integration obligation:
- citizens from member state of the European Union, the European Economic Area or Switzerland and their family members. This exemption does not apply to the family members and newcomers of Belgian nationality mentioned above.
- Newcomers who have already obtained a civic integration attestation
- Newcomers who are not able to follow a civic integration path due to a serious illness or a handicap
- Newcomers who obtained an attestation or diploma in the Belgian or Dutch education
- Newcomers who followed a complete schoolyear of education for nonDutch speaking newcomers
- Newcomers who are 65 years old or older
- Migrant workers with a temporary residence permit that may lead to a permanent residence.
The four last options for exemption do not apply to newcomers who are ministers of a religion in a local church or religious community recognized by the Flemish authorities.
For underage allophone newcomers (children and young people who are entitled to education for non-Dutch speaking newcomers), civic integration is accomplished through education and not through a civic integration path. Like all underage children, they benefit from the right to education and are subject to compulsory schooling. For that reason, the Flemish authorities offer them paths which are meant to guide them to an adequate school or to education for non-Dutch speaking newcomers.
If necessary, they are also guided to well-being and health facilities. The municipality gives them information about associations, sportive and cultural activities and facilities for young people in the vicinity.