Guidance for newcomers (civic integration path)
The Flemish authorities want people who move 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 gain the necessary knowledge and skills.
All newcomers have the right to follow this civic integration path. Some categories of people are obligated to follow the civic integration path.
For underage, non-Dutch speaking 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 also 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 obligated to follow the civic integration path
Some newcomers must follow a civic integration path:
- 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
- and who, for the first time, have a residence permit valid for more than 3 months.
- Belgians who
- are 18 years old or older
- were not born in Belgium
- have at least one parent that was not born in Belgium
- and who are, for the first time, registered in the national population register for no longer than 12 consecutive months.
- Underage, non-Dutch speaking 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 applies for as long as it has not been fulfilled.
Note: the rules concerning the civic integration obligation apply only in Flanders. Different rules may apply in Brussels or Wallonia.
In Flanders, the civic integration program consists of:
- a social orientation course about life, work, norms and values in Belgium (in a language the learner can understand)
- a Dutch course
- individual guidance in the search for work, studies…
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 written down in a civic integration contract. Anyone who signs a civic integration contract commits to attend at least 80% of all classes of each course. Otherwhise they risk a fine.
Anyone who passes the social orientation course and the Dutch course receives an integration certificate. 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 obligated to follow 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
Otherwhise they risk a fine.
Some newcomers are exempted from the civic integration obligation in the Flemish Region:
- citizens from member state of the European Union, the European Economic Area or Switzerland and their family members. This exemption does not apply to family members of Belgians and newcomers of Belgian nationality mentioned above
- newcomers who have already obtained an integration certificate
- newcomers who are not able to follow a civic integration path due to a serious illness or handicap
- newcomers who obtained a certificate or diploma in Belgian or Dutch education
- newcomers who followed a complete schoolyear of education for non-Dutch 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 final reasons for exemption do not apply to newcomers who are ministers of a religion in a local church or religious community recognised by the Flemish authorities.
For underage non-Dutch speaking 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 welfare and health facilities. The municipality gives them information about clubs they can join, sports and cultural activities, and facilities for young people in the vicinity.