If your company wants to employ an employee from outside the European Union, this will be subject to strict requirements. The employer often needs to have a work permit for the employee. Exceptions to this rule apply to a stay as a highly skilled migrant, based on an EU Blue Card, to intra-company transfers and to self-employed persons, for instance.
The employer applies to the Immigration and Naturalisation Service (IND) for a single permit for the employee. The IND submits the application to the UWV Employee Insurance Agency, which will decide on the work permit. A work permit is issued if the employer can demonstrate that he is unable to find any personnel for the vacancy who are already entitled to work in the Netherlands: a Dutch citizen, an EU citizen or a holder of a Dutch residence permit with the endorsement ‘work freely permitted’. If the work permit is issued, the residence permit will, in general, be issued as well.
EU Blue Card
The employer need not be recognised as a sponsor in order to apply for an EU Blue Card (the procedure will, however, be much quicker for recognised sponsors). Other than for highly skilled migrants, this residence permit is not subject to any differentiated salary requirements; the gross monthly salary must be at least € 5,403 (excluding holiday pay).
Another condition is that the employee has successfully completed a higher education degree programme of at least 3 years.
An EU Blue Card grants limited rights of circulation within the EU.
Companies from outside the European Union can transfer managers, specialists and trainees to a branch in the Netherlands. Under the EU Intra-Corporate Transferee Directive (ICT Directive), it is possible to obtain a single permit for this employee for a maximum period of 3 years. A condition is that the original employment is maintained; the employee is not allowed to enter into an employment contract with the Dutch branch. Before the transfer of the employee, he or she must be employed by the sending branch for at least three months. The salary standard is the same as for the highly skilled migrants scheme: € 4,612 gross per month (excluding 8% holiday pay), € 3,381 if the employee is below the age of 30. There are also training requirements. Managers and specialists must at least have a Bachelor’s degree or 5 years’ relevant professional experience; trainees must at least have a Master’s degree.
Highly skilled migrants
Employers whom the IND has recognised as sponsors may apply for a residence permit for a highly skilled migrant. An important requirement for this residence permit is that the salary is high enough. Differentiated salary requirements apply:
- highly skilled migrants aged 30 or older: € 4,612 gross per month
- highly skilled migrants below the age of 30: € 3,381 gross per month
- a reduced salary requirement for, among others, those who have graduated in the Netherlands and find a job within one year after their graduation: € 2,423 gross per month. These amounts are exclusive of holiday pay.
The salary must also be competitive. This means that the salary offered must be appropriate for the relevant employee as well as for the position.
An employer of a Turkish highly skilled migrant does not have to be recognised as a sponsor.
Recognition as a sponsor
Employers of highly skilled migrants must be recognised as a sponsor. Even if no recognition is required in order to employ an employee from outside the European Union, recognition could be advantageous, as the procedure will generally be a lot faster. A charge will be made for the recognition. The costs are € 4017. Start-ups and businesses employing fewer than 50 employees have to pay € 2008.
Moreover, recognition is subject to the condition that the continuity and solvency of the business are guaranteed. Continuity and solvency tests will become stricter as the business is newer.
Self-employed persons and start-ups
Foreign self-employed persons can obtain a residence permit in the Netherlands for their activities, provided that these activities are essential for the Dutch economy. The IND will ask the Netherlands Enterprise Agency [Rijksdienst voor Ondernemend Nederland, RVO] for advice on this and the RVO will assess this on the basis of a points system: points are awarded for personal experience, the business plan and added value for the Netherlands.
The rules are less strict for start-ups. Start-ups can be given one year to start an innovative business in the Netherlands. A condition is that they are guided by a reliable Dutch facilitator during this process. After this year, the start-ups may qualify for a regular residence permit to work on a self-employed basis.
American, Japanese and Turkish entrepreneurs are, under the Dutch-American Friendship Treaty, the Japanese Trade Treaty and the EU-Turkey Association Agreement, subject to less strict rules: they do not have to demonstrate that their activities are essential for the Dutch economy.