Irregular stay

Here you will find information on the approach taken by Belgium to organise the return to their country of origin of foreigners who are illegally residing on Belgian territory.

There are several forms of irregular stay, such as:

  • a foreign national staying in Belgium beyond the validity of their visa;
  • a foreign national who is not subject to a visa requirement and who stays in Belgium for more than 90 days within a 180-day period;
  • a rejected applicant for international protection who remains in Belgium after the expiry of the imposed term;
  • a student who does not return to their country of origin at the end of their studies;
  • a foreign national who enters the territory or resides there irregularly.

When a foreigner is apprehended while residing in the country irregularly, they are in principle given an order to leave the territory. This is a document stating that the foreign national must leave the territory of Belgium within a certain period of time.

Foreign nationals who receive an order to leave the territory are supposed to choose voluntary return in the first instance. If necessary, the authorities provide assistance with the return. The Belgian government gives priority to the voluntary return of foreign nationals in irregular stay. If foreign nationals refuse to leave the country, they can be arrested by the police and held by the Immigration Office in a detention centre with a view to their removal. This is a forced return.

These sections provide information about the steps to take if you have received an order to leave the territory, your rights and obligations, the support offered, the advantages of a rapid departure, the identification and pre-identification procedure and the organisation of your return.

The Immigration Office can carry out a forced return when an order to leave the territory is not respected. Here you will find an explanation of this procedure and what detention involves.

It should also be noted that an order to leave the territory may be accompanied by an entry ban.

Furthermore, the Law of 15 December 1980 provides for the possibility of terminating the residence of persons who have obtained a residence permit if these persons represent a serious threat to public order or national security.

You can find information about the possibilities of appeal here.