Society New migrants and expats to Belgium must take 4-month integration course.


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In most countries if you're a foreigner and want to apply for the citizenship of your host country, you need to take a test to prove that you have basic knowledge of the language, society, history and institutions of the country.

But Belgium goes one step further. All this is actually a requirement for anybody from the age of 18 who wishes to stay in Belgium for more than 3 months (except for other EU/Schengen citizens). All newcomers will have to take:
  • A ‘social orientation’ course about life, work, norms and values in Belgium (in a language the learner can understand). This consists of information on the rights and duties of any person residing in Belgium, an individual social assessment which allows initial support according to the needs expressed (housing, health, employment, family, leisure ...), a French/Dutch level assessment test and assistance with administrative procedures.
  • If necessary, take a 400-hour course in Dutch or French depending on where the intent to live in Belgium and pass a test to reach at least A2 level (upper beginner). The Flemish government has even announced that prospective immigrants will be able to take free Dutch lessons in their home country before they come to Belgium.
  • A 60-hour course on citizenship.
  • An individual guidance in the search for work, studies… and help for the evaluation of diplomas.
Belgian citizens who have at least one non-Belgian parent and who were not born in Belgium will also have to follow these courses.

Immigrants will have 18 months to complete all these courses. If they don't they will be fined. Including the language course, this will take approximately 500 hours in total. Assuming an average age of 5 hours per day during weekdays only that should take about 4 months to complete.

While these steps maybe necessary to better integrate migrants from poorer countries and notably from Muslim and African countries, it will be an unnecessary burden for expats staying only a few years in Belgium. Imagine an expat from an English-speaking country coming to work for 2 years for a multinational company where English is the working language and having to take care 4 months course on integration in Belgium with compulsory French or Dutch lessons!
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I doubt such courses will help immigrants integrate better. It depends much more on the attitude of the immigrant than whether or not he/she takes such courses because it's required.
I doubt such courses will help immigrants integrate better. It depends much more on the attitude of the immigrant than whether or not he/she takes such courses because it's required.
Correct: What if the migrant has an attitude like say for example the ones who attacked worshipers in the Russian Orthodox Church today and Russian Jewish Synagogue as well? How do you integrate that mindset?
First they'd have to send back all the illegals and troublemakers. Only then will these measures be taken seriously. How will those who fail to comply be fined? How will these fines be enforced? Fine or no fine, every measure will cost the taxpayer. Integration courses are a big joke. We have to stop all immigration from Muslim countries. In Germany they're handing out citizenships to Syrians who arrived since 2015. All these so-called measures are a big farce, especially coming from the center of the EU.
I tried to find how much immigrants can be fined for not following the integration courses. It seems that in Flanders the fines are between 50 and 500€, while in Wallonia they are up to 2,500€. I could not find the information for Brussels.

However not taking the courses and not paying the fines do not result in the cancellation of the visa nor in the expulsion of the faulty immigrant. At best it can make it more difficult for them to renew their visa. So yes, it's a big joke.

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