Permits for your highly skilled employees

Published by:
Immigration and Naturalisation Service, IND
Immigration and Naturalisation Service, IND
5 min read

If you wish to employ a highly skilled migrant from outside the EU, you can submit an application on their behalf. To do so, you must be a recognised sponsor. Read the rules about hiring highly skilled migrants.

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).

30% ruling

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, also 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 Netherlands Tax Administration. You can make use of the 30% ruling 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 residence permit

You can also apply for a residence permit for your highly skilled employee under the European Blue Card scheme. This is similar to the residence permit for highly skilled migrants, but there are a few differences:

  • With a European Blue Card, it is easier to apply for a residence permit in a different EU-country.
  • With a European Blue Card, you can in some cases apply for long-term EU residency after 2 years instead of 5 years. Read more about exceptions to the 5-year term for permanent residency on the IND website.
  • The reduced salary criterion is higher for the European Blue Card in comparison to the criterion for highly skilled migrants.
  • Your employer does not need to be a recognised sponsor in order to apply for a European Blue Card. For a highly skilled migrant application, this is mandatory.

If you want to know more about applying for an EU Blue Card for your employee, read the information on the EU Blue Card website and the IND website.

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.

Questions relating to this article?

Please contact the Immigration and Naturalisation Service, IND