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Employing highly skilled migrants

This information is provided by

Netherlands Enterprise Agency, RVO

If you run a business in the Netherlands and you want to employ a highly skilled migrant from outside the EU/European Economic Area and Switzerland for longer than 90 days, you do not need to apply for a work permit on their behalf. Highly skilled migrants and their dependents do, however, need to apply for a residence permit. It is also possible to offer tax-free payments to cover additional expenses incurred due to moving to the Netherlands.

Work permit

If you wish to employ a highly skilled migrant from a country outside the EU, the EEA or Switzerland for longer than 90 days, you do not need to apply for a work permit on his or her behalf.

If your employee is due to live in the Netherlands for less than 90 days, or is a cross-border workerExternal link, then they do need to have a work permitExternal link. These employees are not considered to be so-called 'knowledge migrants'.

Residence permit

Highly skilled migrantsExternal link (and their spouses and/or dependents) from countries outside the EU, the EEA or Switzerland, who remain for longer than 90 days in the Netherlands, do need a residence permit. You can apply for one on their behalf. To employ a highly skilled migrant, you must meet the following 3 conditions:

Under the Association Treaty, you do not need to be a recognised sponsor to take on Turkish employeesExternal link as 'knowledge migrants'.

In addition to these conditions, highly skilled migrants must meet a number of criteria for obtaining a residence permit.

Conditions for recognised sponsors

To be a recognised sponsorExternal link your organisation has to meet the following conditions:

  • It is listed in the Commercial Register in the Netherlands;
  • Its continuity and solvency is sufficiently guaranteed;
  • The organisation, its directors and other natural persons/legal entities are not bankrupt or under suspension of payment;
  • The organisation, its directors and other natural persons/legal entities are reliable, i.e.:
  • The organisation has not been tax negligent in the past 4 years;
  • The organisation or legal entities/natural persons involved have become bankrupt in the 3 years prior to the application;
  • It has not broken the Aliens Act, Foreign Nationals (Employment) Act or Minimum Wage and Minimum Holiday Allowance Act 3 times or more in the last 3 years;
  • It has not been revoked in the past 5 years;
  • It meets the sector’s Code of Conduct.

Criteria for highly skilled migrants

Highly skilled migrants must meet a number of criteria for obtaining a residence permit. For researchers and doctors in training, and for intra-company transferees, additional conditions apply.

Criteria for researchers and doctors in training

There is a lower salary criteria for scientific researchers and doctors training to become a specialist than there is for other highly skilled migrants. They must have an income which at least equals the standard amount for singles or married couples/cohabiting unmarried couples.

Scientific researchers must have a letter of appointment or contract signed on behalf of the institution, stating the job description and code as given in the University Job Classification system (UFO).

Doctors training to become specialist must attend a training institute designated by one of the following:

  • Medical Specialists Registration Committee (MSRC)
  • Social Medicine Physicians Registration Committee (SGRC)
  • General practitioner and Nursing home Physicians Registration Committee (HVRC)

Doctors in training also have to register as a health professional in the BIG-register.

Criteria for intra-company transfers

Employees who are transferred to the Netherlands from another country by the same company must have an employment contract, letter of employment, guest agreement or employer’s declaration stating the duration, nature of the transfer and the salary amount.

Specialised employees

If you employ migrants in certain sectors, which are not highly skilled, but are specialised and sought after, there are other residence permitsExternal link available.

30% facility (tax-free payment) for moving to the Netherlands

You may be able to use the 30% facilityExternal link of the Dutch Tax and Customs Administration. Using this scheme you can offer the skilled migrant a tax-free payment of at most 30% of their salary (including the payment). This payment is intended for what is commonly referred to as extraterritorial costsExternal link, such as double accommodation expenses and additional expenses for living in the Netherlands. You and your employee must apply for a rulingExternal link from the Dutch Tax and Customs Administration together to be able to use the scheme.

Since 1 January 2019, the duration of the 30% facility has been reduced from 8 to 5 yearsExternal link. This applies to new migrants as well as those who already make use of this facility. A transition measure is in place for foreign workers whose 30%-facility is due to end in 2019 or 2020 as a result of this reduction.

Prinsjesdag (Budget Day) announcement

Under the Prinsjesdag (Budget Day) 2019 proposals, the government has announced measures to make it easier for startups to apply for a residence permit for highly skilled migrants who are essential to the companies's success. For innovative startups a new measure is expected to come into force as a pilot project. Amongst other requirements the salary criterion is to be lowered against the salary criteria for the regular measure for highly skilled migrants, and the so-called 'knowledge migrant' (kennismigrant) gets a share in the company.

The new measure is set to come into force in the second half of 2020, subject to its acceptance by the upper and lower houses of parliament.

This article is related to:

This information is provided by

Netherlands Enterprise Agency, RVO