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Student Visa versus Residence Card

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I was wondering if anyone had knowledge on student visas and residence permits. A little background: I am a US citizen on a student visa (class D) in Belgium. It expires 20/9/2014, however, I am interning under contract until 6/10/2014. I have applied for what I believed was a visa extension through my municipality, however, I was told it is impossible to receive a visa extension(I wish I had read this forum before so I knew it was impossible to extend the visa - a lot of time wasted!), but that they would extend my residence permit.

Does anyone have an idea of what this actually means? Does a residence permit trump student visa? Am I allowed to stay in Belgium past 20/9/2014 until the expiry of my residence permit, or must I leave the country? I know, I know, I could leave the Schengen zone and reenter as a tourist to finish out my internship... but I'm on a tight student budget! :)

I've emailed and called the Belgian consulate in LA, the US Embassy in Belgium, the Belgian Immigration Office, my municipality (Ixelles), and my university with no prevail. I love this country, but man o man, sometime's you just need an straight, non-bureaucratic answer! Please and thanks.

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