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, an exception exists for highly skilled migrants, also called knowledge workers.
Highly skilled migrants / Intra corporate transfer
If you wish to employ a highly skilled migrant from outside the EU/EEA or Switzerland in the Netherlands, he/she will most likely require a provisional residence permit (machtiging tot voorlopig verblijf, MVV) or/and a residence permit. Only a recognised employer can submit an application on behalf of a highly skilled migrant. Find out more about recognised sponsors and how to become one.
If the highly skilled migrant has a valid residence permit issued in a Schengen member state and a recognised sponsor has applied for his/her residence permit, they are exempt of a provisional residence permit (MVV).
Intra Corporate Transferees
When you submit an application for the purpose of stay 'work as a highly skilled migrant', he/she may fall within the scope of the directive Intra Corporate Transferees (ICT). The IND checks the application against the conditions of the directive. If the employee meets these conditions, they will automatically get a residence permit for the purpose of stay ‘Intra corporate transfer'.
If you're planning 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 known as the 30% facility.
This means you will be able to offer your knowledge worker a maximum tax-free remuneration totalling 30% of their salary (including the remuneration in question). This is intended to compensate knowledge workers for costs incurred working in the Netherlands. You and your employee will require a ruling from the Dutch Tax and Customs Administration. The period during which you can make use of the 30% facility is 5 years.
Who qualifies as a highly skilled migrant?
Your highly skilled migrants qualify as such if:
- you (their employer) are a recognised sponsor. For a list of recognised companies please check the public register 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 undergo a tuberculosis test upon arrival in the Netherlands. Certain nationalities are exempt from this obligation.
- the migrant has not previously stayed in the Netherlands illegally.
- the migrant has not given false information or withheld important information to support any previous applications.
- 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 amounts are index-linked on a yearly basis. This income requirement does not apply if the migrant performs scientific research or is a physician in training to become specialist. In that case, the income must at least meet the provisions listed in the Dutch Minimum Wage Act (wml).
- the migrant either has an employment contract, an appointment decision, or, being 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 as well as the income.
- the migrant has to be included in the so-called BIG register, if the migrant is to work in the Dutch healthcare services. The provision of healthcare services by individual practitioners is regulated by the Individual Healthcare Professions Act (BIG). When admitted to the BIG register the migrant is then able to use their legally protected professional title.
Residence arrangement for essential personnel for startups
Since 1 June 2021, startups can also apply for the residence arrangement for essential personnel for startups. This 4-year prilot project makes hiring essential foreign personnel easier and faster. For example, startups do not need to meet the recognised sponsor requirement. The conditions to apply for the residence arrangement for essential staff are different. Read all conditions and how to apply on the IND website.
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 (but it does speed up the procedure if you are)
- the employee's monthly salary must be the required amount, see the IND website for this year's income requirements
- you must offer the employee an employment contract or job for at least one year
- in case of regulated professions, the employee has to prove that they fulfil the legal requirements to do the work
- the employee must have at least a university bachelor's degree
Short-term knowledge workers
A simplified procedure exists for knowledge workers staying for less than three months in the Netherlands.
What if your employee does not qualify as highly skilled migrant?
If your employee does not meet the requirements for highly skilled migrants, and comes from outside the EU/EEA or Switzerland, they will need a work permit if they will be staying for more than three months. Also, they will have to apply for a residence permit (and possibly a provisional residence permit).