Can I stay on if my relationship ends?
What happens to a trailing spouse when it all goes pear-shaped? Our experts tackle this prickly question.
"I have been in a serious relationship with a European Union national for several years now. After living together in Rotterdam for more than two years, it looks like it is not working out. What will happen if we split up? Will I get in trouble with the local Aliens Police? ” Ending a relationship may have serious consequences from a legal/residency point of view for expats who have been granted residency on the basis of their relationship with a Dutch resident. In your case, much will depend on your nationality, the length of your stay in the Netherlands, the length of your relationship, and your future plans and possibilities. Lets first consider expats who do not hail from an EU member state, Norway, Liechtenstein, Iceland or Switzerland. If your partner is a Dutch national (or a national of another EU state), the following is probably printed on your residence permit: “Verblijf bij partner. Arbeid vrij toegestaan, een tewerkstellingsvergunning is niet vereist” (roughly translated: residency with partner, work permit not required). It is important to keep this bit of information in mind as you read on. Your current residence permit and status are based on your relationship with an EU national living in the Netherlands. Officially you and your partner are required to inform the local Aliens Police or IND immigration service office as soon as the split is final. The Aliens Police/IND should be informed of all major changes regarding your personal situation — and in my book, splitting up definitely qualifies. Should you want to continue living in the Netherlands after the relationship end, the Aliens Police/IND will assess your new purpose for stay, as the ‘relationship-based purpose’ as such is no longer valid. In certain cases the following applies: if the relationship lasted more than three years after the first relationship-based residence permit was issued, it may be possible to secure a separate residence permit. You could also try to apply for a change of ‘status’, which in turn is linked to another purpose of stay. If you are employed in the Netherlands, it may be possible to change your purpose for staying to ‘employment’. Similarly, if you are studying or want to study in the Netherlands, it may be possible to change your purpose of stay to ‘study’. If you are (for instance) seeing another EU national in the Netherlands and wish to continue/start a serious relationship with that person, it may be possible to change your purpose of stay to this other relationship. Please note that the Aliens Police/IND has different rules and requirements with regard to every change of purpose procedure. Some of the requirements are very strict and difficult to meet. If your current residence permit holds the annotation as mentioned before, and Aliens Police/IND accepts (for instance) your request for a change of purpose, a new residence permit will be issued to you. This new residence permit could also be marked 'work permit not required' in certain circumstances regardless of the purpose of stay. Another scenario arises if your current partner in the Netherlands is not an EU national. In that case, your current residence permit does probably not hold the annotation as mentioned above. However, if you officially change your purpose and link it to a new relationship with an EU national in the Netherlands, the annotation will be printed on the back of your new residence permit — one of the perks of living here with an EU national. If you would have been married to an EU national residing in the Netherlands, some of aforementioned applies. Following you divorce, you should inform the local Aliens Police/IND. In one of my next columns, I intend to inform you on possible residence related complications and possibilities following a divorce. This column is for informative purposes only, is general in nature, and is not intended to be a substitute for competent legal and professional advice. Dutch rules and regulations regarding foreigners, citizenship and naturalization are continuously subject to change. Patrick Rovers and Hans van Velzen Subject: Ask the Experts