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Visas, Permits, Residency and other Immigration Issues

The Netherlands (Holland) - Visas, Permits, Residency and other Immigration Issues

Visas and Residence Permits

The majority of foreign nationals do not need a visa to visit the Netherlands for a period not exceeding three months, but they must hold a valid passport or EU identify card.

For anyone who wishes to stay longer than three months in the Netherlands, or to work there, the procedures vary depending on their nationality. For EU/EEA/Swiss nationals, there is no formal requirement to obtain a residence or work permit, but they need to obtain a residence permit in order to be eligible for social security benefits in the Netherlands. This will only be granted to people whose monthly income exceeds the minimum wage, which was EUR1,300.80 as at January 2007.

With the exception of nationals of the USA, Canada, Japan, Australia and New Zealand, all non EU/EEA/Swiss foreign nationals who wish to stay longer than three months in the Netherlands must obtain an "authorization temporary stay" (MVV) from the Dutch embassy or consulate in their home country before entering the Netherlands; they must have entered the country on the basis of this authorization to be eligible to apply for a residence permit on arrival.

The application for an MVV can also be made to the Ministry of Justice, Immigration and Naturalisation (IND) - http://www.ind.nl/EN/index.asp - by a prospective employer, who will convey any approval of the request to the Dutch embassy in the applicant's home country. The application for a work permit should be submitted at the same time. MVVs are also required for any family members who will be accompanying the main applicant to the Netherlands. Foreign nationals who require an MVV to enter the Netherlands and who are coming to form a family or be reunited with their family in the Netherlands, as well as religious leaders who plan to work in the Netherlands, may be required to take a civic integration examination while in their home country, as part of the application process.

On arrival in the Netherlands, there is a requirement for all non EU/EEA/Swiss nationals to submit an application for a residence permit and to register with the local municipal offices, whether or not they required an MVV to enter the country.

An application for a residence permit must be accompanied by birth certificates for the main applicant and any dependants, marriage certificate if applicable and divorce decree if married before. All documents must be legalized and translated if necessary. Additional documents such as your work permit and evidence of health insurance are also likely to be requested. Legalized birth, marriage and divorce certificates are also required when registering at the local municipal offices. Documents from other countries must be legalized and translated if necessary.

Useful Contacts

Immigratie- en Naturalisatiedienst (Immigration and Naturalisation Service)
Communication Department
Postbus 3211
2280 HE Rijswijk
Information line: 0900 1234561
Website: http://www.ind.nl/EN/

Work Permits for Employees

There is no requirement for EU/EEA/Swiss nationals to obtain a work permit in order to take up employment in the Netherlands. However, the nationals of all other countries are required to hold a work permit to carry out any form of employment in the Netherlands. It can be difficult for these foreign nationals to obtain work permits, since there is a general requirement for the employer to persuade the authorities that there are no Dutch/EU/EEA or Swiss nationals who are available and suitably qualified for the post.

The employer must submit a work permit application to the Center for Work and Income (CWI), providing evidence that they have made every effort to recruit a Dutch/EU/EEA/Swiss national. This might include, for example, copies of job advertisements or confirmation from recruitment agencies that they have been unable to supply a suitable person. It is also necessary to register the vacancy for several months with job centres in the Netherlands. A permit will be refused if it appears that the terms and conditions of employment do not meet Dutch employment law or any relevant collective labour agreements. Sometimes a permit is only issued with the condition that the employer also establishes training for EU/EEA jobseekers, to enable them to apply for this type of job in future.

Typically, work permit applications take around five weeks to be processed, and the applicant is not allowed to work in the Netherlands until their work permit has been approved. Applications for authorization temporary stay visas, if needed, and residence permits should be submitted at the same time if possible.

Usually permits are issued for the length of time of the employment contract, up to a maximum of three years, and are not transferable between different jobs or employers. They cannot be extended; there is a requirement to apply for a new work permit if the duration of employment is extended. People who hold a work permit and residence permit continuously for three years, however, become eligible to apply for a non-restrictive residence permit and if this is approved they will no longer require a work permit.

If a company or group of companies wishing to transfer non-EU/EEA staff to work in the Netherlands, they also need to demonstrate that the person being transferred has unique experience or knowledge that is needed in the Netherlands, and provide proof that the company has an establishment in the Netherlands with an annual turnover of at least EUR50 million. Additionally, the salary of the person being transferred must exceed EUR50,000.

There are some exceptions to the requirement for non EU/EEA/Swiss citizens to obtain a work permit to take up employment in the Netherlands. These include people who normally live and work outside the Netherlands and who come to carry out "incidental" tasks relating to their work, such as business meetings or negotiations, technical support or assistance work or lecturing at an educational institution. Their duration of stay in the Netherlands must not exceed four weeks.

Additionally, under the Knowledge Migrants scheme, highly skilled or qualified migrants from outside the EU/EEA can obtain approval to work for an IND-approved company in the Netherlands without a work permit. If eligible, the IND will issue a residence permit for up to five years, or for the duration of the contract up to a maximum of five years. To qualify for this scheme, companies wishing to recruit skilled migrants from outside the EU must provide tax history details to IND; special arrangements exist for new start-up companies. There are also minimum gross salary requirements for knowledge migrants, which are currently EUR45,495 for those aged 30 years and over, and EUR33,363 for those aged under 30.

Special work permit arrangements exist for certain categories of employee. For example, seasonal and other short-term temporary workers can only obtain a work permit for up to 24 weeks, and this is non-extendable.

Students from non EU/EEA countries who wish to take up a work placement or internship in the Netherlands may also be required to obtain an authorization temporary stay, and will require an employer to submit a work permit application. If approved, students are allowed to work up to ten hours per week, or full-time hours during the summer vacation months of June, July and August. There are also special work permit arrangements for graduate-level or professional trainees who are posted to work in the Netherlands for up to three years.

Full details of work permit requirements are available on the IND website.

Useful contacts

Immigratie- en Naturalisatiedienst (Immigration and Naturalisation Service)
Communication Department
Postbus 3211
2280 HE Rijswijk
Information line: 0900 1234561
Website: http://www.ind.nl/EN/

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