I'm (about to be) on a spouse residence visa in Belgium after doing MA and PhD here. I am a non-EU citizen. What I am wondering is whether it will be possible to reside with my partner in Belgium and commute to the UK for a post-doc (terms are often short and postdocs having little teaching, I would plan to spend the majority of my time at home in Belgium.) Would I be able to keep my Belgian residence and work toward citizenship, assuming my partner is still resident here too?

Edit: My partner is a Belgian and Slovenian citizen. I am a US citizen.

  • Maybe someone will be able to confirm it's OK in Belgium but I wouldn't worry too much about your right to be in Belgium and work from there (that's typically the case for many spouse visas). There are several other issues you will need to deal with: Potential tax and national insurance liabilities, whether you can maintain some sort of status in the UK without living there or make sure your UK employer (university?) will be able to give you a contract and deal with the paperwork without that. Or are you a British citizen?
    – Relaxed
    Nov 29, 2023 at 9:53
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    One thing that will help provide an answer to the residence question is your partner exact status. Are they also a third country (non-EU) citizen? On a work visa? Maybe an EU blue card? Or are they themselves a Belgian or EU citizen?
    – Relaxed
    Nov 29, 2023 at 9:54
  • Thank you -- yes, I know it will probably be more complicated on the UK end of things... Nov 30, 2023 at 10:40
  • In that scenario (family reunion for a Belgian citizen), there is one last detail that would impact your status: Did your partner live with you in the UK? Did they move there before 2021 and apply for the EU settlement scheme? This would engage EU freedom of movement law and put you in a different category.
    – Relaxed
    Nov 30, 2023 at 11:27

1 Answer 1


I haven't been able to find any unambiguous official confirmation online but I would be very surprised that you wouldn't be allowed to work as the spouse of a Belgian citizen once you got the relevant residence permit. I think you may even be allowed to work as soon as you applied for the permit (cf. this presentation from a lawyer working for a non-profit supporting migrants in Belgium).

If your spouse moved to the UK before 2021 and got into the EU settlement scheme then you would fall into another category and you are definitely allowed to work as soon as you applied to have your status recognised (you don't even need to wait for a permit or visa). The requirements for family reunion are also slightly different (regarding income and housing especially).

Regarding your other question, working towards citizenship, the easiest path for you would be to get the Belgian citizenship by “declaration” as the spouse of a Belgian citizen. Beside your relationship, there are three criteria for this: residing legally in Belgium, speaking one of the national languages, and proving your “integration into Belgian society”.

The last criteria is a little complicated, there are three ways to fulfil it:

  • Getting some Belgian secondary or tertiary education degree (presumably not relevant for you)
  • Getting some training and working for a while in Belgium
  • Following an “integration course”

So if I understand all this correctly, working in the UK would have an impact on that as it only leaves the last option open. Conversely, working in Belgium would spare you the integration course. Note that there is no requirement to have been employed for the full five years, just to have worked for a little less than a year so you have plenty of time to figure out what you want to do after your post-doc.

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