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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi, I'm an American looking to emigrate to Europe. I don't qualify under any scientific or professional exemptions, so I'm limited to self-employment type visas. France has a very liberal long-stay visa, and the Netherlands has DAFT visas. Does Belgium have anything like that? I see they have a professional card visa, but I wouldn't qualify unless they need American lawyers over there and I doubt it. If anybody has any info on similar type visas in Belgium to the French carte de sejour or Dutch DAFT visa, I'd greatly appreciate hearing from you. Thank you.
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
I did a little more digging and found that lawyers are exempt from the professional card requirement. I don't know exactly what this means in practice, such as whether it mean lawyers don't have to prove their self-employment would benefit Belgian society at large. I've emailed the department in charge of handling professional cards. We'll see what they say.
 

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Not sure what you mean about France having a very liberal long stay visa. As a US qualified attorney, you'd do best in any event if you could get yourself hired by a Belgian employer and let them deal with the visa side of things. Or, look into some of the NGOs in Belgium.

The trick is that the law here in Europe, and in each country, is somewhat different from that in the US. Unless you're looking to become dual-qualified (which is another possibility), you'd do best to look for a job where your US legal skills and experience will count in your favor.
Cheers,
Bev
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks, Bev. I should have said I no longer practice law. I'm actually a full-time stock trader, but I thought my law degree might help me get into Europe somehow.

About France, my understanding was that it's fairly straightforward to get a one-year visitor visa if you can show you can support yourself without resorting to work. Then renew until your five years are up and apply for citizenship. Is that not true?
 

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The law degree per se isn't going to get you into Belgium, France or any European country other than if you manage to land a job first. (For Belgium, you could try NATO - no visa needed if you land a job there.)

About France - straightforward, perhaps, but not quite as automatic as you put it.

It can be difficult to get a visitor visa if you are of "working age" (because, I suspect, they don't really believe that you won't be tempted to try to supplement your income by working under the table) and have no other plausible tie to France (fiancé, study plans, research project, etc.). Being a day trader isn't considered a stable source of income, and to do so in France, you'd need to hook up with the French tax and cotisation (social insurance) system to pay in your fair share.

After 5 years you can apply for nationality - but the process takes a good year (during which you have to be street legal - i.e. with a proper carte de séjour, which is your residence permit) and prove that you know the language at a B2 level plus are properly "integrated" (which these days tends to mean that you have been paying in your fair share during all or most of the 5 years you've resided in France). It's not automatic, and I know people who have been turned down for nationality, even after 20 years or so of living in France.
Cheers,
Bev
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 · (Edited)
Thanks for your reply. Maybe I was being too optimistic. I thought if you had savings sufficient to support yourself for the year, you met the financial requirement. I didn't know there was more to it. As for having no ties to France, I'll be active in the swing dance scene wherever I go, so I'll be contributing something to the cultural life of France, but maybe that's not enough. Dutch immigration under DAFT may be my best bet after all.
 
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