From F card to citizenship - not possible before 5 years expires?

Dear All,

I have been wondering if some of you can give me advice or share their experience on how and if I can acquire BE citizenship. According to the Belgian government web-site ( … integreerd) I fulfil all the conditions. Those are:

1) I lived here for 5 years uninterrupted
2) I have inburgering test passed
3) I payed full taxes (worked) for minimum 468 days
4) In the moment of application I have permanent residency here (F card)
5) I have C1 Dutch test passed

I went to the Ghent city hall and the clerk told me that my time in BE counts since the moment I got F-card which is 1 year ago and that I have to wait for 4 more years, and to come back in 4 years?!

I found this info on the website of the government according to which they grouped documents you use to prove your stay in BE into 4 categories ( … ionaliteit):

1) EU member citizen by using E or E+ card
2) Family members from EU citizens by using F and F+ card
3) Refugees...
4) Other foreigners with A, B, C, D, H card and in some cases also annex 15 can be used

This means that it is possible that from mid-2020 onwards they only allow people to prove their 5 year uninterupted stay by using documents from their category. This would prevent you as someone who is currently on F card to use previously acquired A cards as a proof of your uninterrupted stay. If this is indeed the case, then it is really disappointing...

Hi, I hate to disappoint you but they are correct. You can only apply after your card has expired.

Thanks for your response! Is it indeed some new regulation they implemented previous year?

Yeah I think around 2018 cause I had the same thing as you I went to ask and they told me to come back when my F card expires. Rules change every year I guess. My orange card period didn't even count.

I am wondering if this can be circumvented though. In the law explanation page it says the main difference is that now Orange card does count towards citizenship. They stated that the categorisation into 4 groups on how you prove your stay in only for clarity reasons: "De opsomming van de verblijfsdocumenten beoogd in artikel 4 werd voor de duidelijkheid en leesbaarheid gereorganiseerd op grond van de beoogde categorie van vreemdeling.". This also means they did not state in the law that you cannot use cards proceeding F card to apply (mix reasons to stay from different categories). I believe to go around this you would need to hire a lawyer to apply for you or handle your case, though, since it is a linguistic detail that lawyer could handle properly and legally. I might try and update you on what happens.

You can choose to use a lawyer but in my case I waited till my card expired. I did a lot of research and went to see an immigration lawyer and he told me the same thin to wait till it expired.
Try your luck with a lawyer might work.

Think I will at least have a talk with a lawyer. I think waiting is ok, but the thing is that I would need to wait for 4 years in my case. Until then, they can again change something for worse. Also, since F card is conditional, if anything goes wrong in the relationship (and this can always happen) you can lose it. Even if you then switch to the other card and remain living and working in BE, according to this, the clock re-starts. This way you can be here, working, contributing, paying taxes, speaking fluent national languages...for more than 10 years and still have no rights to nationality...very grim outlook! :D Will write again here if I get some useful outcome or conclusion. :) Thanks for your messages!

Personal experience with the Belgian laws: they're worst that the Italians and, believe me, the Italians laws are the hell on Earth.

We had some issues on the commune and, after a big pain in my head with "come in, come back, come in, come back", I decided to spend money to hire a lawyer and, like a "miracle", the problem was fixed.

IMHO, if the citizenship is something that you really want/need, "invest" money on it hiring a lawyer. Otherwise, like people pointed here, do the research and... wait.


Many thanks for the response, perhaps indeed lawyers are the good solution on navigating the pits of Belgian immigration laws... :)

You are very right if the relationship goes sour you loose but if you have a child involved it will not affect you that much then you have to do a family reunion with your child.
I was in your situation thinking the same but I had a child. All in all like the other guy said if you have the money invest but before investing in an immigration lawyer please do research otherwise they will take your money pretend they working on your file the later they tell you the law changed and you have to wait. Sucks huh!!

Wow, sounds horrible, this for the lawyers I mean! Thanks a lot for sharing this outlook, it will make me more careful indeed! If I knew this is gonna be what they change in the law, I might have stayed on my card A and never switched to F! :D If this fails, I could try with naturalisation after I obtain my PhD (apparently, this is also an option for foreigners who get this degree or for professional sportsman). This path is not easy, though, since there is no clear law on this, so you can get accepted or rejected with no legal explanation or binding.

I am very grateful for all your responses, it also feels like I am not alone in this and it is always good to hear other people's experiences! Many thanks!!!!

Yes experienced that with a lawyer. Some are good. You have lots of options. Good luck.

ZazaBE wrote:

Thanks for your response! Is it indeed some new regulation they implemented previous year?

Not correct

Dear All, Just a small update here. It is indeed possible to apply for the BE citizenship by combining different residency cards, as long as your stay in BE is officially uninterrupted. So, the clerk in the commune who told me otherwise was wrong. This is confirmed by a private lawyer I hired for a consultation + by the agii's (BE government) free legal advice help I called. :)

Hi ZazaBE,
I had exactly same objections as you, In June 2020, Managed to declare my nationality in October 2020 and just became Belgian few days a go. Indeed the clerk was wrong. Insist in getting your declaration through, city hall has no power to decide, it is the federal bodies who will decide if you can become Belgian or not. Many clerks are not properly trained or they might never had a similar case

Small update on this topic, today I declared my Belgian nationality in the Ghent city hall. This time I faced no issues. It is yet to see will I get it or not, but in any case I did submit my declaration and indeed there was no issue in combining different residency cards.

ZazaBE wrote:

Small update on this topic, today I declared my Belgian nationality in the Ghent city hall. This time I faced no issues. It is yet to see will I get it or not, but in any case I did submit my declaration and indeed there was no issue in combining different residency cards.

You will be fine! Did they give you the ontvangstbevestiging / accusé de réception?
Sometimes they give on the spot sometimes by post. But that is what counts.
I guess your is going to be by October 2021. (Goes slower now with work from home arrangements) and deadline became 6 months

Yes, they gave me this confirmation on the spot, I hope that I will get a positive response. Keeping my fingers crossed for myself. :)

Keeping fingers crossed for you too. I got mine in 3 months.

Thanks a lot!!