Employers generally need to apply for a work permit or a combined residence and work permit (gecombineerde vergunning voor verblijf en arbeid, GVVA) for all employees coming to work in the Netherlands from outside the EU, EEA or Switzerland. However, there is an exception for highly skilled migrants. They are sometimes also called knowledge workers.
Employing highly skilled migrants
If you wish to employ a highly skilled migrant from outside the EU/EEA or Switzerland in the Netherlands, they will most likely require a provisional residence permit (machtiging tot voorlopig verblijf, MVV) and/or a residence permit. Only recognised employers can submit an application on behalf of a prospective highly skilled migrant. Find out more about recognised sponsors and how to become one.
Does the prospective highly skilled migrant already have a valid residence permit issued in another Schengen member state? When a recognised sponsor applies for their residence permit in the Netherlands, they will not need a provisional residence permit (MVV).
If you plan to employ a knowledge worker from outside the EU, EEA or Switzerland, then you may offer them tax-free remuneration for the extra costs incurred working in the Netherlands. This is the 30% facility, sometimes referred to as the 30% ruling.
This means you will be able to offer your knowledge worker a maximum tax-free remuneration of up to 30% of their salary (including the remuneration in question). This is intended to compensate highly skilled migrants for costs incurred working in the Netherlands. You and your employee will require a ruling from the Dutch Tax Administration. You can make use of the 30% facility for 5 years.
Who qualifies as a highly skilled migrant?
Your highly skilled migrant must meet the following requirements:
- You (their employer) are a recognised sponsor. For a list of recognised companies please check the public register of recognised sponsors.
- The migrant has a valid travel document. For example, a passport.
- The migrant is not a risk to public order or national security.
- The migrant is willing to take a tuberculosis test upon arrival in the Netherlands. Some nationalities are exempt from this obligation.
- The migrant will earn a competitive income.
- The migrant has a monthly gross income that meets the highly skilled migrant criteria. For employees from the age of 30 upwards, a higher income requirement applies than for employees under the age of 30, as well as for those who have graduated in the Netherlands. The required income amounts are indexed every year.
- The migrant either has an employment contract or an appointment decision. Or if they are a guest lecturer, a guest agreement. For an intra-company transfer, the migrant needs to have an employer's declaration from the foreign employer. This declaration should include the duration of the transfer, the type of employment, and the expected income.
- If the migrant is to work in Dutch healthcare services, they must register in the BIG register. The provision of healthcare services by individual practitioners is regulated by the Individual Healthcare Professions Act (BIG). Once admitted to the BIG register, the migrant is then able to use their legally protected professional title.
- If the migrant is a scientific researcher, the decision of appointment or the employment contract is signed on behalf of the institution. It must state the job description and the job code as set out in the University Job Classification System (UFO).
- If the migrant is a doctor in training to become a specialist, the training institute must be assigned by the Medical Specialists Registration Committee (MSRC), Social Medicine Physicians Registration Committee (SGRC), or General Practitioner and Nursing Home Physicians Registration Committee (HVRC).
Please note: the income requirements mentioned above do not apply if the migrant performs scientific research, is a guest lecturer, or is a physician in training to become a specialist. In that case, their income must at least meet the provisions listed in the Dutch Minimum Wage Act (wml). The income requirement also does not apply to Intra Corporate Transferees.
EU Blue Card
You can also apply for a residence permit for your highly skilled employee under the EU Blue Card scheme. The EU Blue Card is similar to the residence permit for highly skilled migrants, but there are a few differences:
- The employer does not have to be a recognised sponsor. Although it does speed up the procedure if you are.
- The employee's monthly salary must meet the income requirements. See the IND website for this year's income requirements.
- You must offer the employee an employment contract or job for at least 6 months.
- In the case of regulated professions, the employee has to prove that they fulfil the legal requirements to do the work.
- The employee must have a diploma from a higher education programme. This programme lasted at least 3 years. The diploma is needed for the profession or sector and is appropriate for the profession or sector. Do you have a foreign diploma? Then Nuffic must evaluate the diploma. This means that Nuffic will examine what value the foreign diploma carries in the Netherlands. Find out more about credential evaluation on the Nuffic website. Please note: IT managers and IT professionals can show 3 years of relevant work experience within the past 7 years, instead of a diploma from a higher education programme.
Short-term knowledge workers
A simplified procedure exists for knowledge workers staying for less than 3 months in the Netherlands.
What if your employee does not qualify as a highly skilled migrant?
Does your employee come from outside the EU/EEA or Switzerland? And do they not meet the requirements for highly skilled migrants? They will need a work permit if they will be staying in the Netherlands for more than 3 months. They will also have to apply for a residence permit, and possibly also a provisional residence permit.