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The Netherlands (Holland) - Visas

Expats working in the Netherlands must meet a number of requirements, which vary depending on the individual’s country of origin.

EU citizens do not need a permit, thanks to the Schengan agreement. Every non-EU citizen who wants to work in the Netherlands must obtain a valid work permit – this is usually requested by their employer. There are no general work permits in the Netherland, instead each permit is only valid for the single employer who applied for it. If the employee leaves that organisation, their new employer will have to apply for a new permit.

Freedom of Movement in the European Economic Area (EEA)

According to EU legislation, EEA and Swiss nationals are able to work in the Netherlands without an employment permit because citizens of these nations have the right to freedom of movement across the EEA. This is with the exception of Croatian nationals, who until 2020 must have an employment permit before they can secure work.

Combined Residence and Employment Permit (GVVA) On the 1st April 2014, the Dutch government introduced a policy that meant that foreign nationals from outside the EEA and Switzerland must apply for a combined residence and employment permit (known as a GVVA) if they want to work in the Netherlands for more than three months.

The GVVA brings together a Dutch residence permit (verblijsvergunning) and a further document that states which employer the permit holder is allowed to work for and, where necessary, under what conditions.

The applicant, or their prospective employer, must apply to the Immigration and Naturalisation Service (IND) for the single permit, which will allow them to both live and work in the country. Once the relevant forms have been submitted and the necessary fees have been paid, the IND will liaise with the UWV (the Dutch social security agency) and establish whether the applicant can live and work in the country.

The decision is made based upon the criteria set out in the Aliens Employment Act (Wav). If the application is approved, the GVVA will be issued and the employer will be informed by the IND directly.

There are various conditions that employers must meet before employing someone from outside the EEA. Firstly, the employer must have tried and failed to find a suitable candidate from within an EEA country. The vacancy must also have been open for a minimum of five weeks, unless it is a vacancy deemed difficult to fill by the UWV, in which case it must have been open for at least three months. Finally, the employer must have taken all of the necessary steps to find a worker from within the Netherlands or the EEA – this might include advertising the vacancy in the media as well as online.

Some people are not eligible to apply for a GVVA, including students who want to work alongside their studies, asylum seekers, seasonal workers, Croatian nationals, and those who don’t intend to stay for more than three months.

Highly Skilled Migrant Permit

The kennismigrant, or highly skilled migrant scheme, allows Dutch employers to recruit and retain talented professionals from outside the Netherlands. The scheme enables employers to fast track work permits for highly skilled foreign employees, without needing to prove that there isn’t a suitable Dutch or EU candidate. The partners and children of highly skilled migrants will also be allowed to work in the Netherlands.

To qualify as a highly skilled migrant, applicants must meet the following criteria:
- They must have relatively rare skills and experience
- They should be educated to at least Bachelor level
- They should have a number of years’ worth of relevant work experience
- They must be highly specialised in a specific area
- Not all companies can employ someone on a highly skilled migrant visa, only organisations that are recognised as a sponsor company by the IND.

To apply for a highly skilled migrant visa, the applicant must have received an employment contract or an appointment decision. There are a number of other conditions in place, including:
- A valid passport
- Healthcare insurance in the Netherlands
- No history of having illegally stayed in the country previously
- No history of providing false information or withholding information on previous applications
- There are also minimum monthly income requirements for those applying for this type of visa

EU Blue Card

An EU Blue Card is a residence permit for highly qualified employment of third country nationals within the European Union. To qualify for an EU Blue Card, an applicant must have a valid work contract or binding job offer running for at least one year and must meet the minimum salary requirements.

An EU Blue Card is only beneficial if the applicant is looking to move around the EU and take up another highly skilled position elsewhere after their time in the Netherlands – the Dutch highly skilled migrant permit restricts the holder to jobs in the Netherlands.

Orientation year for highly educated migrants

This type of permit is suitable for non-EU, EEA, and Swiss citizens who have graduated at a Master or PhD level at one of the top 150 universities in the world within the past three years.

Eligible graduates can apply for the regeling hoogopgeliede (higher education ruling) orientation year, which will allow them to spend one year looking for a job in the Netherlands. Once the graduate has found a position, their employer must apply for a highly skilled migrant work permit, but with a lower salary requirement than the standard version of the permit.

Any graduate on this type of permit will have to leave the country if they do not find a job within 12 months.

Search year permit for graduates (Zoekjaar)

A Zoekjaar is suitable for non-EU, EEA, and Swiss students who have graduated from a Dutch university and want to work in the country. The permit enables graduates to look for a job in the Netherlands but, if they don’t find one within twelve months, they must leave.

Students must apply for a search year permit before the end of their studies by contacting the IND.

Work permit for entrepreneurs and the self-employed

This residence for self-employment permit (verblifsvergunning voor arbeid als zelfstandige) is for entrepreneurs coming to the Netherlands to set up their own business.

Applicants must meet the performance requirements for their business or profession and must have all required permits for the running of the company. Their business activity must also offer substantial benefit to the Netherlands (as determined by the relevant ministry in the Dutch government).

The application is assessed on a points system, whereby points are awarded for personal experience, business, and added value for the Netherlands.

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