Asylum in Belgium

Please note that asylum is a form of international protection and that both terms are therefore used intermittently on this page.

If you fear to return to your country of origin (or country of previous residence in case you are stateless) because you are in danger of suffering serious harm for reasons related to your race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership of a particular social group or you flee war, torture, or inhumane and degrading treatment, you can apply for asylum (international protection) in Belgium.

In Belgium, the authorities have the responsibility to process applications for asylum (international protection) and to decide whether somebody can be granted protection. In Belgium, therefore, UNHCR does not register refugees, does not examine applications for asylum (international protection) and does not issue refugee documents.

Please note that:

  • You can only apply for international protection in Belgium if you are present on the Belgian territory. You cannot apply for asylum (international protection) in Belgium from abroad.
  • If you are in a European Union country and have close family members in Belgium, you may be able to join them under the so-called Dublin III Regulation if certain criteria are fulfilled. For more information please see the section on family reunification.

Applications for international protection should be submitted at the Immigration Office where your application will be registered.

The Office of the Commissioner General for Refugees and Stateless Persons (CGRS), the Belgian first instance international protection body, will examine your application, interview you and take a decision to grant you protection or not, in accordance with Belgian, European and international legislation. The CGRS can decide:

  • to grant refugee status;
  • to refuse refugee status and to grant subsidiary protection status;
  • to refuse both refugee status and subsidiary protection status;
  • to exclude the applicant from a protection status.

During the international protection procedure, you may have the obligation to stay in Belgium. If you leave Belgium to another European country without being authorized to do so and while your international protection application is still pending in Belgium, the authorities of that country may have the right to return you to Belgium, under the Dublin III regulation. The same applies if, prior to your arrival in Belgium, you applied for protection in another European country. In that case the Belgian authorities have the right to return you to that country. More information on this can be found here.

If you have received a negative decision from the CGRS, you have the right to appeal this decision before the Council for Alien Law Litigation (CALL) with the help of a (free) lawyer. Deadlines for appeals have to be respected and can be very short (between 10 and 30 days, depending on the appeal). The CALL will either confirm the decision (refusal), annul, or reform it (granting the international protection previously refused). UNHCR is not part of the national international protection procedure in Belgium and therefore cannot overturn negative decisions or stop forced returns to the country of origin.

Should you have new elements that can substantiate your request for international protection in Belgium after you have received a negative decision, you can submit a new request for international protection based on these new elements. This is called a subsequent application. Please note that you will need to make a statement on these new elements and the reasons why these elements could not have been presented earlier. The CGRS will thereafter assess your new application.

For more information on the procedure for asylum, you can visit this page (available in French, Dutch, English, Spanish, Tigrinya, Arabic, Pashto, Farsi and Somali) and find different brochures on this page. The brochures are available in French, Dutch, English, Albanian, Arabic, Farsi, Lingala, Pashto, Pular and Russian.

See also

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