Brexit: Minister of Justice urged to ensure the ‘M card’ qualifies for Belgian nationality

In a letter submitted by “Brexit and the Belgian Brits”, the Belgian Minister of Justice has been formally requested to include the “M card” among the list of residence documents which qualify for the acquisition of Belgian nationality by declaration.

The “M card” is the special residence document which is issued to British citizens who qualify as beneficiaries of the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement. All British citizens who wish to retain a right of residence in Belgium must apply for an “M card” before 31 December 2020.

At present, the “M card” does not feature among the list of residence which qualify for the purposes proving lawful residence for the purposes of acquiring Belgian nationality by declaration.

As a result, this prevents British citizens from being able to prove their right of lawful residence when applying for Belgian nationality by declaration under Article 12bis of the Belgian Nationality Code.

This in sharp contrast to the situation of EU citizens and their family members who can apply on the basis of E, E+, F or F+ cards and even using special identity cards, following our firm’s successful involvement in cases before the Belgian Supreme Court (Hof van Cassatie / Cour de Cassation).

This is likely to constitute unlawful discrimination contrary to the Belgian Constitution.

Our firm provided legal advice to “Brexit and the Belgian Brits”.

In the event you are affected by a refusal of the Belgian authorities to grant you Belgian nationality on the basis that you have held an M card, please feel free to contact us for further assistance.

Justice at last for holders of special identity cards applying for Belgian nationality

In a judgment that will undoubtedly be welcomed by many, the Belgian Supreme Court (Hof van Cassatie / Cour de Cassation) has ruled that a special identity card can constitute proof of lawful residence for the purposes of EU citizens applying for Belgian nationality by declaration (art. 12bis WBN / art. 12bis CNB).

The judgment relates to persons who had been refused Belgian citizenship on the sole basis that they held a special identity card, which according to the Belgian authorities did not prove lawful residence in Belgium.   Our firm has been representing the appellants before the Belgian authorities since the initial application was lodged at municipal level – for further background see our previous post here.

The Court held that the Court of Appeal was wrong in deciding that an applicant for Belgian nationality by declaration should not be considered lawfully resident in Belgium simply because they held a special identity card, which can be used as proof of the exercise of free movement rights which flows directly from EU law.

The Court did not rule on the other grounds of appeal relating to discrimination.

While the case will now go back to a Court of Appeal for a final decision, the ruling has immediate repercussions. All those with a pending appeal should make new submissions to the lower court drawing attention to this ruling and its implications.

Anyone who has been refused in the past should ideally reapply on the basis of holding a special identity card. However, as is always the case, it is advisable to get a lawyer to advise even at the commune level to draw attention to the judgment and its effects. 

In the event you are affected by a refusal of the Belgian authorities to grant you Belgian nationality on the basis that you have held a special identity card, please feel free to contact us for further assistance.

Crunch time for special ID cards in Belgian nationality cases?

Today the Belgian Supreme Court (Hof van Cassatie / Cour de Cassation) will be hearing three cases on the issue of the refusal by the Belgian authorities to consider that a special identity card can constitute proof of lawful residence for the purposes of applying for Belgian nationality by declaration (art. 12bis WBN / art.12bis CNB).

The cases relate to three persons born in Belgium who have been refused Belgian citizenship on the sole basis that they held a special identity card, which according to the Belgian authorities does not prove lawful residence in Belgium. Our firm has been representing the individuals concerned before the Belgian authorities.

While the lower court initially ruled in our clients’ favour, the case was appealed by the Procureur’s office. The court of appeal then ruled in favour of the Procureur and dismissed all arguments alleging discrimination under Belgian law and breach of EU law. The requests to refer the matter to the Belgian Constitutional Court and to the EU Court of Justice were refused.

A further appeal was brought before the Belgian Supreme Court against these judgments of the court of appeal. The legal basis for the appeal is discrimination contrary to Articles 10 and 11 of the Belgian Constitution and breach of the rules on preliminary rulings to the Belgian Constitutional Court.

In the event the appeal is successful before Belgian Supreme Court, this will not however be the end of the matter, as the case is then expected to be sent back to the appeal court and be referred to the Constitutional Court to determine whether there is any discrimination…

However, it will mean taking one further step towards achieving final closure on this issue.

In the event you are affected by a refusal of the Belgian authorities to grant you Belgian nationality on the basis that you have held a special identity card, please feel free to contact us for further assistance.

Call for evidence – Belgian special ID card – EU nationals denied Belgian citizenship

Have you been denied Belgian citizenship because you hold a special ID card?

If so, we would like to hear from you! We are currently collating evidence in support of an official complaint to the EU institutions to advocate for formal infringement proceedings to be initiated against Belgium.

Any information you provide will be used purely for statistical and analytical purposes. No personal information will be shared and your identity will remain confidential.

Please send an email to Valcke & Associates at evidence@valckelaw.com

Fake emails claiming to be from our law firm

Beware of fraudsters claiming to be from our law firm!

*updated April 2021*

We have been alerted that emails are circulating which fraudulently claim to be from our law firm proposing some investment scheme.

If you receive such a fake message, you should not respond, mark this as spam and delete it from your inbox.

This is an example of the fraudulent email currently circulating:

———- Forwarded message ———
From: Anthony Valcke <a_avalcke@outlook.com>
Date: Thu, Jul 9, 2020, 14:52
Subject:
To: [your email]
 
I am  Anthony Valcke.(Attorney). I got your name and contact information in my quest for his existing extended family, I am writing you on highly confidential grounds with mutual benefit in respect to the investment of my client Mr [fake name that will match your surname].
 
I’d appreciate it if you get back to me by confirming to me if this medium is safe and confidential enough to enable me divulge to you details on why I contacted you. contact : 
 
 
Thank you for your anticipated cooperation. I expect to hear from you asap.
 
Regards,
 
Anthony Valcke  (Valcke & Associates)
+32-460245759
 
Some further examples of fake emails circulating falsely claiming to be from our firm:
 
Name: JefferySnita | Jefferypaide | Jefferyskams | JefferyskamsGM
Telephone: +86442585492 | +89978232856
E-Mail: [deleted]
Assunto: Invest once and get passive income up to $76000 per week

Message: Good earnings up to $5500 per day https://www.google.com/url?q=https://vk.cc/c0MfHu&sa=D&Ga=Bo&usg=AFQjCNGjI650_cZ0Wc55vy2kRrU6kWbrAQ

Name: Dennismog
Daytime Phone: 83723495217
Evening Phone: 81564234342
EMail: [deleted]
Country: Costa Rica
Comments: Ihr Einkommen 6000 EURO in funf Tagen. Registrieren Sie sich schneller, wenn Sitzplatze vorhanden sind >>>>>>>>>> https://www.google.com/url?q=https%3A%2F%2Fvk.cc%2Fc19oJ5&sa=D&Ni=Hw&usg=AFQjCNE1hCglSk67TImhpV5aXDA5sbTaog
 
Name:Dennisgax
Phone:82465623527
E-Mail: [deleted]
Comments: Ihr Einkommen 6000 EURO in funf Tagen. Registrieren Sie sich schneller, wenn Sitzplatze vorhanden sind >>>>>>>>>> https://www.google.com/url?q=https%3A%2F%2Fvk.cc%2Fc19oJ5&sa=D&Ni=Hw&usg=AFQjCNE1hCglSk67TImhpV5aXDA5sbTaog
 
 
 
 
 

 

Brits in Belgium: Avoiding the Pitfalls of Belgian Citizenship Law

Brits in Belgium: Avoiding the Pitfalls of Belgian Citizenship Law

*updated October 2018*

According to one poll, Belgian citizenship is in the top 15 coolest citizenships to hold in the world …

But that’s not the only reason to apply…

With Brexit looming, British citizens wanting to preserve their rights to live, work and retire anywhere in the EU should strongly consider applying for Belgian citizenship.

Usually, British citizens who have been living in Belgium for five years or more are usually eligible to naturalise as Belgian citizens by the process of “declaration”.

You will want to take particular care that you provide all the necessary documents needed for your application.

Here’s what to look out for to minimise the chances of having your application turned down:

  • Make sure that you hold the correct residence card. If you’re an EU official, unfortunately your special identity card will often not be accepted. The first thing you need to do is apply for an E+card after five years of residence, so you can apply on that basis.
  • Make sure you have held a residence card for the entire past five years. If there are any gaps in your residence, you will need to submit a legal opinion explaining how your gaps in residence should not affect your application. As regards the five-year qualifying period for EU civil servants, the good news is that several Belgian courts have in recent years ruled that special ID card must be accepted; the bad news is that you are likely to have to make an appeal to court to have your special ID card accepted.
  • Make sure you meet the conditions regarding your economic participation in Belgium. This generally means you need to have worked for 468 in the past five years, or you paid social security contributions as a self-employed person for at least six terms in the past five years. If you have reached retirement age or are disabled, you may be eligible for a waiver. If you’re an EU official, that’s going to be particularly tricky to demonstrate, although there is very recent case law that states that employment in the EU civil service must be taken into account. If this is your situation, it is strongly recommended you obtain legal advice to help with your application.
  • Make sure you meet the conditions regarding your social integration in Belgium. This usually means you can show you worked here for a continuous period of five years, or you have been awarded a higher education degree by a recognised institution in Belgium, or you have undertaken a professional training course of at least 400 hours with a recognised institution in Belgium, or you have undertaken an integration course with a recognised institution in Belgium. You can also demonstrate this by having worked in Belgium for five years.
  • Make sure you can demonstrate knowledge of French, Dutch or German. Usually you can do this by obtaining a certificate of aptitude at level A2 or above or showing you obtained a higher education degree in Belgium by a recognised institution in Belgium.

If you don’t meet all the above requirements, there may still be a possibility for you to apply for citizenship after having lived in Belgium for ten years and can prove that you are engaged in social and economic activities in Belgium. You are more likely to be successful in making you case if you get a legal opinion in support of your application.

As a last resort you may apply for a discretionary grant of Belgian citizen through the parliamentary process of “naturalisation”. However, for this you are going to need legal advice to help you build a convincing case.

There are also specific rules apply for children born in Belgium.

Should you wish to discuss your individual situation further, please do not hesitate to contact us.

You can also book a face-to-face consultation with us by Skype at any time.

Are you ready for Brexit?

It has now been over 18 months since the UK voted to withdraw from the EU.

Following the end of phase 1 of the negotiations, we are starting to get some idea of what the future will hold for those who will be directly affected by Brexit.

Will you be affected by Brexit?

Whether you are a European citizen living in the UK or a British citizen living in an EU country, unfortunately there is no way around it, you are going to be affected by Brexit.

How you are going to be affected will not only depend on how long you’ve been living in the country and your present occupation, but this will also depend on factors such as where you might have studied or where you might have obtained your driving licence.

How will you be affected by Brexit?

Here is a checklist of a few things to consider doing now, so you can prepare yourself for Brexit:

-as a European citizen living in the UK or a British citizen living in an EU country, you should apply for a residence or permanent residence document now so you can prove you were living in another country before 29 March 2019;

-as a European citizen living in the UK or a British citizen living in an EU country, you should consider applying for naturalisation in the country where you now live;

-as a European citizen living in the UK or a British citizen living in an EU country, if you obtained your degree in another country, you should apply for formal recognition of your degree now and in any case before 29 March 2019;

-as a European citizen living in the UK or a British citizen living in an EU country, if you obtained a driving licence in another country, you should exchange your driving licence for a local one now and in any case before 29 March 2019;

-if you have a company established in the UK and you trade with the EU or you have a company established in an EU country and you trade with the UK, you should set up a sister company in the UK or EU before 29 March 2019;

-if you have a non-profit organisation established in the UK and you engage in activities in the EU or you have a non-profit organisation established in an EU country and you engage in activities in the UK, you should set up a sister non-profit organisation in the UK or EU before 29 March 2019.

Should you wish to discuss your individual situation further, please do not hesitate to contact us.

You can also book a face-to-face consultation with us by Skype at any time.

 

 

Welcome to the website of Valcke & Associates.

We are a law firm specialising in European law.

We provide services to individuals and companies on all aspects of European law.

Our firm is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority and registered with the Brussels Bar (Ordre français du Barreau de Bruxelles) as well as the Palermo Bar in Italy (Consiglio dell’Ordine degli Avvocati di Palermo).