Residence and Work Permits

1.Residence in the Netherlands

The Netherlands has a restrictive immigration policy. Residence permits are, however, granted in case you would like to live and work in the Netherlands, bring in your partner, work as an employee or in self-employment or if you would like to work as a highly skilled migrant. A number of conditions need to be met, like availing of a valid passport, having sufficient means of support and of course you need to meet the requirements that apply to the reason of your stay.

Our office has vast experience with getting you and/or your partner the right residence permit. We can take all the necessary steps while you are still in your home country. We can also assess whether you comply with the Dutch rules to obtain a residence permit. If needed, we can contact local Dutch embassies, take care of applicable registrations, e.g. for civic integration (“inburgering”) and take care of other formalities.

Once you are in the Netherlands, our office can take care of all your registrations with e.g. the Dutch immigration services and the municipality in which you will stay. We can apply for a tax/social security number and assist in opening a Dutch bank account. In due course we can assist you in renewing your permit, apply for a permanent residence or even Dutch citizenship.

2. Work Permits for foreign employees

Work permits are normally required for hiring individuals from outside the EU for working or for temporary assignment in the Netherlands. For some temporary employment or for so-called “highly skilled migrants” (see below) work permits are not required. An important condition for obtaining such permit is that candidates are not available within the EU.

Our office has extensive experience in obtaining work permits for professionals (consultants, accountants etc), other labor migrants and their relatives. We can take care of the entire procedure with the Dutch immigration services (including the applications) or merely assist you in the process where needed. Once in the Netherlands, we can take care of all registrations with e.g. the Dutch immigration services and the municipality in which the employee will stay. Furthermore, we can apply for a tax/social security number and assist in opening a Dutch bank account.

3. Highly skilled migrants

For highly skilled international employees (“knowledge migrants”), Dutch work permits can be obtained without the need to prove that personnel within the EU is not available. To qualify as a highly skilled migrant, the gross salary for employees aged 30 or older should be at least € 52,010 per year and if the employee is under the age of 30 at least € 38,141 (in 2013). For Dutch university graduates (but also for highly educated migrants, see below), the annual salary should be at least € 27,336 (in 2013).

For bringing in highly skilled migrants, the employer needs to be registered with the Dutch immigration service as a sponsor, Dutch Chamber of Commerce and the Dutch tax authorities. Our office can take care of all these registrations for the employing company. We can also take care of the applications with the immigration services for the employee. Once in the Netherlands, we can take care of the registrations with the municipality and the Dutch immigration services and also assist in opening a bank account and obtaining a health insurance. In due course, we can assist in renewing the residence permit.

4. Highly educated migrants

In case you are highly educated, you may qualify for a temporary Dutch residence permit for one year. As such, you are provided the opportunity to find employment as a highly skilled migrant (see above) or start an innovative company in the Netherlands. You are regarded for this purpose as highly educated in case you have earned at least a Master’s degree within the last three years from a Dutch university or from a top 200 university according to the Times Higher Education Supplement and the Jiao Tong Shanghai University.

Other conditions are that you avail of sufficient means and that you score at least 35 out of 40 points in a specific test, for which points are assigned as follows:

  • Master: 25 points
  • PhD: 30 points
  • Age 21-40: 5 points
  • An additional 5 points if you speak Dutch or English or have previously stayed in the Netherlands for work or study or have obtained your qualification in a country that is party to the Bologna declaration.
Once the temporary permit is granted, the applicant can search for a job in the Netherlands as a highly skilled migrant. For this, the aforementioned criteria for highly skilled migrants apply. In case the conditions are met, the temporary residence permit will be changed into a permit for highly skilled migrants.

Furthermore, if the highly educated migrants succeeds in setting up an innovative company in the Netherlands within this orientation year, he can request to have his temporary residence permit changed into a residence permit to work on a self-employed basis. Requirements need to be met (see below).

5. Residence permits for self-employed / entrepreneurs

Foreigners (non EU/EEA/USA/Japan) can obtain a Dutch residence permit in case they start a business or a branch of a foreign company (see below) or invest in an existing business in the Netherlands. For this, a work permit is not required but the applicant needs to be self-supportive. In addition, at least 90 out of 300 points need to be earned with a specific test, whereas at least 30 of 100 points need to be earned in each of the following categories:

  • Personal experience: education level, experience and success as entrepreneur, previous income, experience with working with/in the Netherlands;
  • Business plan: market analysis, organization, financing;
  • Added value for the Netherlands: innovation, creation of employment, investment volume.
Despite any negative outcome of this test, the residence permit can still be provided in case the entrepreneur brings in a significant number of new jobs. Graduates with at least a Master’s degree can start an innovative company in the Netherlands by scoring at least 45 points in the first and second category. For art professionals there is the requirement that they bring in cultural benefits. Furthermore, if the entrepreneur’s monthly income is at least € 1,559 family members can also receive a residence permit.

USA and Japan

American and Japanese entrepreneurs / investors are eligible for a residence permit without having to comply with a point system pursuant to treaties concluded with the US and Japan. There are conditions though, which include a minimum investment amount of € 4,500 and registration with the Dutch Chamber of Commerce. Except for practicing law or medicine, any kind of business / self-employment qualifies.

6. Start-up business

This is a new scheme since 2015 for starting an innovative business in the Netherlands, providing a temporary residence permit for a year. The start-up is required to be guided by an experienced facilitator in the Netherlands, hence to be fully supported to develop into mature enterprises.

Within the top-5 of most competitive economies in the world, the Netherlands have much to offer to foreign entrepreneurs and investors. For instance, a good business climate with good living conditions. In this respect, the Dutch digital infrastructure is one of the fastest and most reliable in the world.  The Netherlands also take a top position in (international) education, healthcare and recreation (for more on this, see our busines special).

General conditions are that the startup entrepreneur holds a valid passport, does not pose a danger to public order or national security and is obliged to take out a health insurance policy. In addition, it must undergo a tuberculosis (TB) test in the Netherlands. He must have undergone this test within 3 months following the issue of the residence permit. If necessary, he must undergo treatment for TB. Some nationalities do not have to undergo a TB test.

Specific conditions: 

A.Working together with a reliable expert facilitator

One of the requirements for the residence permit is working together with a facilitator, providing the start-up entrepreneur with a tailor-made package depending on the guidance the start-up entrepreneur needs. For instance, the facilitator can help with operational management, marketing, research and seeking investors for setting up the innovative company.

  • He must have experience in guiding start-ups;
  • He must be financially sound;
  • He may on no account be in receivership or bankrupt and may not have any negative equity;
  • He cannot have a majority interest in the new business;
  • He may not be related to the start-up entrepreneur (up to three times removed; child, parent, grandparent, uncle/aunt).

We can assist in finding a facilitator that suits your needs.

B.The product or service is innovative

 The product or service is innovative if at least one of the 3 conditions is met:

  1. The product or service is new to the Netherlands
  2. A new technology for production, distribution or marketing is involved
  3. There is a new innovative organizational and process approach

The product or service is innovative if at least one of the aspects set out below is involved. E.g.:

  • The product or service is new for the Netherlands
  • It represents new technology
  • Original organizational structure/process
  • Activities encouraged in the top sector policy
  • Socially responsible enterprise
  • Original energy conservation approach
  • Smart and creative adaptations or combinations serving cross-sectoral applications
  • New product/market combinations
  • Creative or innovative market approach
  • Social innovation

C.The start-up entrepreneur has a plan to advance the idea to a business

As a start-up entrepreneur, certain activities have to be undertaken to advance from an idea to a business. The government wants to know what activities these are. The start-up entrepreneur provides a description of this in a step-by-step plan, which contains information relating to:

  • The organization. The start-up entrepreneur must have an active role. This means he is not simply a shareholder or financier. The step-by-step plan at least contain:
    • the structure of the organization
    • the roles and tasks
    • the legal form
    • the personnel
    • the purpose of the enterprise.
  • A description of the idea for the product or service and why it is innovative (see 2.)
  • The activities in the first year. A description of the planning and activities for the business. The steps to be gone through in setting up the company.

D.The start-up entrepreneurs and the facilitator are entered in the Commercial Register of the Chamber of Commerce

The start-up entrepreneur must be entered in the Commercial Register of the Chamber of Commerce. This entry must show that the start-up entrepreneur has a say in the start-up. This is important in order to be able take decisions regarding the future enterprise. The facilitator must also have a Chamber of Commerce number. It is not necessary to provide an extract from the register, the Chamber of Commerce number is sufficient. The Netherlands Enterprise Agency checks the entry in the Commercial Register.

E.There is sufficient money (resources) to reside and live in the Netherlands
The start-up entrepreneur must have sufficient money (income) to be able to reside, live and set up a business in the Netherlands. Start-up entrepreneurs may not rely on public funds, such as welfare benefits. The start-up entrepreneur can prove he has sufficient resources in various ways.

  • The entrepreneur can show by way of a bank statement that he has sufficient money in his account. The amount available must be the standard amount for single persons under the Minimum Wage Act.
  • Another (legal) person, such as the facilitator, may also fund the residence by providing money (resources) to the start-up entrepreneur. The amount must be available for the start-up entrepreneur’s entire period of residence (maximum 1 year).

7. Wealthy immigrant residence permits

Wealthy foreign individuals may acquire a Dutch wealthy immigrant residence permit to retire in the Netherlands. For this, there is a requirement for an investment of at least € 1,250,000 in the Dutch economy, whereas investment in a venture fund recognized by the Dutch Minister of Economic Affairs or affiliated with the Dutch Association of Investment Funds suffices. This “millionaire’s permit” is meant to stimulate the Dutch economy with assets spent by successful foreigners. The permit is issued for five years.

Wealthy immigrants that meet the financial asset test do not need any specific purpose for stay (e.g. employment, work, study etc). There is also no Dutch language requirement or the need to pass a civic integration test in the home country. Furthermore, work in employment or as entrepreneur is allowed without any of the aforementioned restrictions or requirements.