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Living and Working in the Netherlands as a Foreign National

If you are coming to the Netherlands, especially the Haarlemmermeer region to work, there are lots of things you must know. You need a residence permit and usually also a work permit if you want to work in the Netherlands. The permits you need depend on the type of work you are going to do (for example, as an employee or as an independent entrepreneur).

When you arrive in the Netherlands, you must arrange a number of things. For example, you must register with the municipality where you are going to live. This also applies to an asylum seeker, but also to a resident of an EU country who comes to work in the Netherlands.

There are different types of residence permits that you can work within the Netherlands. You can get a residence permit for:

  1. Regular paid employment
  2. Seasonal work
  3. Knowledge migrant
  4. European blue card
  5. Working as a self-employed person
  6. Au pair or exchange youngster
Working in the Netherlands
Working in the Netherlands

1. Regular paid employment

If you wish to work in paid employment in the Netherlands, then you need a residence permit. Paid employment is basically any job where you earn a (monthly) salary. The conditions are that you must earn a sufficient income and the organisation you’re going to work for is registered in the Commercial Register of the Chamber of Commerce (if required by the Commercial Registers Act 2007).

Combined permit for residence and work (GVVA)

Combined residence and work permit (GVVA) makes it possible for foreign nationals from outside the EU to stay and work in the Netherlands for more than three months. The GVVA combines the residence permit and the work permit in one procedure. In fact, it is a residence permit with an additional document stating which employer you may work for as a foreign national, in which position you may work and under what conditions you may work there.

To whom does the GVVA apply?

The GVVA is intended for the majority of labor migrants from outside the EU, Liechtenstein, Norway, Iceland, and Switzerland. But there are also a few exceptions.

Exceptions: to whom does the GVVA not apply?

The GVVA does not apply to seasonal workers, students and asylum seekers. A separate employment permit will continue to exist for these groups. Nothing has changed for highly skilled migrants. In the past, they also only needed a residence permit. That remains the case even now that the GVVA has been introduced.

How does the GVVA procedure work?

The labor migrant or their employer can apply for the permit. The IND assesses the application. The IND has 90 days (or 3 months) for the assessment. Within this period, the IND first asks the UWV for advice. The UWV advises the IND within 5 weeks on the following points:

  • Is there labor supply from the Netherlands and/or the EU for the work in question?
  • Does the foreign national receive the correct employment conditions?

If the answer to one of these questions is “NO”, the UWV will advise the IND to reject the application. The IND is then responsible for making a decision and possibly issuing the permit. You must therefore bear in mind that it takes 7 weeks to a maximum of 3 months before you receive a decision from the IND. This also applies to an extension request. Request a renewal in time, at least 3 months before your current permit expires.

What are the conditions for obtaining a work permit in the Netherlands?

  1. Your employer must have recruited staff in the Netherlands and in Europe.
  2. Your employer must submit a vacancy to (Employee Insurance Agency) UWV Werkbedrijf five weeks before the employer applies for the (tewerkstellingsvergunning) TWV.
  3. You may not be younger than 18 or older than 45.
  4. Your employer must also arrange accommodation for you and you must have a valid residence permit.
  5. You must have a valid proof of identity.
  6. You may not pose a threat to the public.
  7. You must be prepared to participate in a medical examination (TB).
  8. You must have the statutory minimum wage.
  9. The TWV procedures are the responsibility of the Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment. These, therefore, do not fall within the scope of the Modern Migration Policy Act. But this law provides (among other things) for simplifying procedures where possible. For the TWV, this means that your employer can apply for both a residence permit and a TWV at the UWV-IND counter with an application form. Data is also exchanged between the IND and UWV WERKbedrijf, which reduces the administrative burden for you and your sponsor.

2. Seasonal work

The IND can issue a residence permit with the restriction of seasonal work to a foreign national who has been granted a work permit with a maximum of 24 weeks. Seasonal work is often about work in the agricultural sector or in the hospitality industry. It is important that the foreign national must have been outside the Netherlands for at least 14 weeks prior to the application.

A foreign national can be eligible for a residence permit for learning to work if he wants to gain relevant work experience in the Netherlands for his education or job abroad.

3. Knowledge migrant

Highly skilled migrants who are not EU nationals (or third-country nationals) and because of their special qualities or knowledge (such as teachers or doctors), can apply for a relatively flexible admission arrangement. The employer of the highly skilled migrant or scientific researcher is usually the sponsor. With this form of admission, it is mandatory that the sponsor is recognized by the IND. Whether a company is recognised as a sponsor can be found in the register of the IND.

However, following the EC-Turkey Association Agreement, the Turkish labor migrant does not require the employer to act as sponsor. Extra obligations with regard to information and administration will therefore not apply to the employer. It is possible that the employer chooses to be a sponsor, now that this also brings benefits such as the faster procedure.

Note: If the highly skilled migrant meets the so-called wage criterion, then no GVVA or work permit is required.

The wage criterion for foreign nationals varies according to age. For example, there is a separate criterion for foreign nationals under 30 years of age and foreign nationals over 30 years of age. You can find the current amounts on the IND website. For foreign nationals who are highly educated and/or have graduated up to a year before the application for a residence permit, a wage requirement that is lower than for thirty-year-olds applies. The same applies to scientific researchers and doctors who are trained as specialists.

The partner or spouse of a highly skilled migrant may also work without a work permit.

4. European blue card

Inspired by the American “Green Card,” the European Union introduced the “Blue Card”. This “Blue Card,” blue in the color of the EU flag, is an EU work and residence permit for highly educated immigrants. In 24 European countries, including the Netherlands, highly educated people from outside the EU can work and live with the blue card in the EU. In the Netherlands, the Blue Card is very similar to the current residence permit for highly skilled migrants. The conditions for a Blue Card are stricter; having a Blue Card, however, offers more advantages compared to staying as a highly skilled migrant.

The following conditions apply to be eligible for residence in the Netherlands as a holder of a European Blue Card:

  1. The highly skilled migrant has an employment contract or binding labor offer for the duration of at least one year.
  2. The highly skilled migrant meets the wage criterion. This means that the foreign national must earn at least 60,000 euros gross with his job.
  3. The highly skilled migrant must meet a training requirement of at least a completed higher education course with a duration of at least three years (the employment contract or offer must also be a job for which this requirement has also been set).
  4. The employer for whom the employee is going to work may not have received a fine in the five-year period prior to the application for violation of Article 2 Wav, or for failure to pay wage tax or premiums for the employee or national insurance schemes.
  5. The highly skilled migrant must have a valid MVV (Authorization for Temporary Stay).

More requirements can be found on the IND website.

While the conditions for a Blue Card may be much stricter, there are also benefits associated with the European Blue Card scheme. Firstly, it is easier for the holder and his family members to settle in an EU Member State for work. No prior visa (MVV) requirement may be imposed on admission. A second advantage is that family members of the holder can qualify for “continuous” residence” under more favorable conditions. The holder of a European Blue Card can also be given the status of “long-term resident third-country national”. Under certain conditions, the periods of residence in other EU member states can be added together.

5. Work as an independent entrepreneur

It is of course also possible that you do not want to work as an employee, but that you want to settle in the Netherlands as a self-employed person. In that case, you also need a MVV and a residence permit (under a limitation within the Knowledge and talent cluster) to get started as a self-employed person.

You are eligible for such a residence permit if:

  1. You must be registered in the Netherlands Chamber of Commerce.
  2. You earn sufficient and sustainable livelihoods with the work you do as a self-employed person.
  3. You meet the authorization requirements that apply to the conduct of the relevant business.

More information can be found on the IND website.

By means of a points system, it is determined whether you can qualify for a residence permit as a self-employed person. 

With this point system, it is important that you have a business plan. This business plan must be substantiated with the following documents:

  • copies of diplomas obtained; the foreign national must arrange for translation and recognition of the diplomas and transcripts submitted by Nuffic;
  • deed of incorporation and articles of association company in the case of a company in the country of origin;
  • reference former employer (s);
  • employment contract (s) of former employment;
  • references Dutch partners or contacts;
  • company contracts;
  • financial data, such as sales data, annual accounts, tax data, wage statements, wage returns, etc.
  • Dutch degree certificates (diploma, promotion).
  • Annual financial statements and/or figures must be prepared or approved by an independent expert (eg in the case of financing by a Dutch bank). The independent expert may not be a family. It does not have to be a Registered Accountant or an Accountant Administration Consultant. An accountant or a financial adviser is also sufficient.
Working in the Netherlands
Working and living in the Netherlands.

Other documents

In addition to the aforementioned documents to substantiate the business plan, the foreign national must also submit:

  • supporting documents demonstrating the novelty of the product or service for the Netherlands (eg patents or references from knowledge institutions and the like);
  • evidence of job creation in one’s own company;
  • data on intended investments in the Netherlands;
  • a copy of an extract of the (mandatory) registration with the Chamber of Commerce, not older than three months.
  • All documents must be drawn up in Dutch, English, French or German or translated by a translator who has been sworn in by the Dutch court.

6. Au pair or exchange youngster

Since the introduction of the Modern Migration Policy Act, it is not the host families, but the au pair and cultural exchange offices that are legally the sponsor of the au pair or exchange youngster. There is an obligation for the sponsor to be recognised. Host families can no longer have exchange youth come over without the intervention of a recognised agency. The recognised sponsor can submit an application for an MVV or residence permit for the au pair himself and is granted access to an accelerated procedure.

More information can be found on the IND website.