top of page

FIrst Days in belgium:
what to do?

This section walks you through the first things you should do once you arrive in Belgium to start the process of international protection. It also gives you tips and recommendations to ease the process and other useful information to help you settle in.

  • Know your rights at the door!
  • Tips for queueing
    Requesting to launch your asylum process at the Immigration Office is only available during working days.Therefore, Monday mornings are usually the busiest Arrive at least 1 hour before the opening hour to make sure you can enter the Immigration Office on the same day. Otherwise, you might need to go back the following day and queue again. If you expect people from the country/region of your origin to be homo-transphobic, try to avoid speaking in your native language. If there is a case of harassment or verbal abuse, reach out to the NGO representatives, they will assist you accordingly. Wear comfortable clothes. Especially in winter wear very warm clothes, bring a blanket if you can. As this is not the moving line (the door will open at 08:30 and X number of people standing first in the line will be able to enter almost instantly), you can take a sit and occupy yourself with reading or any other activity that will help you relax.
  • Where should I stand in the queue?
    There are two separate queues in front of the Immigration Office, one for singles and the second for families/minors. The line for singles is much longer, than the one of the family. Queer couples can also stand in the family queue, regardless of the legal status of their relationship. Single women, as well as trans persons, are allowed to queue in the family line.
  • What should I expect while queueing?
    Standing in the line can be an exhausting experience, due to the long waitting times, feeling unsafe or because of the weather conditions. Usually there are a few NGO representatives patrolling around the Immigration Office, they are there to support and help you. Sometimes they provide free beverages and baked goods for the people in the line. If you have uncertanties, questions or concerns, it’s adviced to reach out to them.
  • When should I go to the Immigration Office? At what time should I get there? How long will it take?
    You have 8 days after entering the Belgian territory to visit the Immigration Office and start the asylum process. The centre is open from 8.30 am and usually only accepts applications until 9.30 due to the high number of people queuing. Due to the long lines at the Immigration Office, a lot of international protection seekers start queueing the night before, thus be mindful that once you arrive at the Office, there might be already a long line. In case you don’t get to enter the Immigration Office once the doors are open at 08:30, you will receive a piece of paper with the fixed hour mentioned on it when you can go back (usually this will be in the afternoon on the same day).
  • Are there associations or organisations I can go to so they can accompany me during my asylum procedure as a queer person?
    Merhaba: Merhaba - Assistance Rainbow Refugee Committee: Advice, support and representation Rainbow Refugee Committee Rainbow House: WeCanHelp (not LGBTQI+ specific, but offers listings of people in different cities willing to help either with housing, accompagnement, food, etc): WeCanHelp - I Need Help MentorEscale: organisation specialised in the accompagnement and support young asylum seekers and unaccompanied minors MentorEscale SINGA: they offer help with administrative processes in their programme AdminBuddy LiveInColor (Liège - not exclusive for LGBTQI+ asylum seekers): Le Refuge (supposed to offer accompagnement as well as emergency housing, don’t think this is the reality): Private lawyers There are two ways to get help and support from Pro-bono lawyers in Belgium: 1- Contacting the local legal aid office, who will appoint you a personal lawyer if you qualify. 2- You choose and contact a lawyer who will file the request for free legal aid on your behalf. Pro-bono legal aid in Flanders: Pro-bono legal aid in Brussels and Wallonia: Association Pour le Droit des Étrangers (social and legal aid): Legal Aid - Social Aid -
  • Where should I go first after I arrive in Belgium?
    The first step for every person willing to seek asylum in Belgium is to officially launch the process. All foreign citizens arriving in Belgium are entitled to apply for international protection and ask for the protection of the Belgian authorities, no matter their visa type, country status etc. This can be done: at the border, if you are refused entry to the Belgian territory from a detention centre, in case the person is already being detained for the purpose of removal. at the Immigration Office* in Brussels, during 8 days after entering the Belgian territory *normally, the building of Petit-Château was responsible for the registration of the applications for international protection, but the process was temporarily moved to the buildings of the Immigration Office on Boulevard Pacheco in Brussels.
bottom of page