Employing highly skilled migrants

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Netherlands Enterprise Agency, RVO
Netherlands Enterprise Agency, RVO

Do you run a business in the Netherlands and do you want to employ a highly skilled migrant from outside the EU/European Economic Area and Switzerland? They probably need a visa or a residence permit. Your organisation also needs to be a recognised sponsor.

If they stay for longer than 90 days, they and their dependents need to apply for a residence permit. For shorter stays they may need a visa. You can check this with the Schengen Visa Advisor.

What is a highly skilled migrant?

A highly skilled migrant is a highly trained professional who comes to work and live in the Netherlands. For example a:

  • physician in training
  • (guest) lecturer
  • (scientific) researcher

For highly skilled migrants a wage requirement applies.

Employing a highly skilled migrant from the EU/EEA or Switzerland

Highly skilled migrants from the EU/EEA or Switzerland do not need a visa, residence permit, or work permit to work in the Netherlands. They do need a valid passport or ID.

Hiring a highly skilled migrant from outside the EU/EEA or Switzerland

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. They do need a residence permit.

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

Residence permit for highly skilled migrants

Highly skilled migrants (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 apply for one on their behalf.

To employ a highly skilled migrant, you must:

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

Conditions for recognised sponsors

To apply for a residence permit your company or organisation must be a recognised sponsor. To become a recognised sponsor your organisation must meet a number of conditions, among others:

  • it must be listed in the Business Register in the Netherlands
  • its continuity and solvency must be sufficiently guaranteed
  • the organisation is not bankrupt or under suspension of payment
  • your organisation, directors and officers, and other natural persons and legal entities involved in your organisation are reliable
  • it meets the sector’s Code of Conduct

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

If the IND granted the application for a residence permit for your employee, you may be able to use the 30% facility (also known as 30% ruling) of the Dutch Tax and Customs Administration (Belastingdienst). Using this scheme you can offer the skilled migrant a tax-free payment of at most 30% of their salary (including the payment). You can only apply the 30% ruling over a maximum of the salary of the Standard for Remuneration Act (Wet Normering Topinkomens, in Dutch). The amount is set every year.

This payment is intended for what is commonly referred to as extraterritorial costs, such as double accommodation expenses and additional expenses for living in the Netherlands. You and your employee must apply for a ruling from the Dutch Tax and Customs Administration together to be able to use the scheme.

You can also choose to reimburse the actual costs your employee makes. For this you need to enter the costs and reimbursement for each employee in your payroll records. You have to choose each year if you apply the 30% ruling or if you reimburse the actual extraterritorial expenses. You do so when you file your tax return in the 1st payroll period of the year.

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
  • you must offer the employee an employment contract or job for at least 6 months
  • 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 diploma of a programme in higher education that is needed and appropriate for the profession. This programme must have a duration of at least 3 years. If you have a foreign diploma, it must be evaluated by Nuffic (credential evaluation). If the employee is an IT manager or IT professional they do not need a diploma if they are able to prove 3 years of relevant work experience within the past 7 years
  • the employee's monthly salary must meet the higher income requirement

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.

Residence permit for essential personnel for start-ups

The residence arrangement for essential personnel for start-ups makes it easier for young innovative companies (start-ups) to hire essential foreign personnel. But please note that this is not part of the scheme for highly skilled migrants. Do you have an innovative start-up? And would you like to hire essential staff from abroad? Then you should apply for a residence permit for essential start-up personnel. Please read what the conditions are and how to apply for the residence permit.

Besides the highly skilled migrants’ scheme, other work-related residence permits are available. For example, if you employ migrants in certain sectors, which are not highly skilled, but are specialised and sought after. Read more on work-related residence permits with IND.

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