In defence of the system
The knowledge migrant scheme to fast track the entry of skilled expats into the Netherlands has not received the welcome it deserves, writes our correspondent who is familiar with the process.
Dutch financial newspaper 'Het Financieele Dagblad' said on 29 August that companies are choosing to dismiss this fast track option and instead return to the original procedure of placing non-EU nationals in The Netherlands under a work permit.
The IND introduced the knowledge migrant ruling (KMR) in order to cut down on lengthy work permit applications, which business groups claimed took too long. The new KMR procedure aims to deliver case decisions within two weeks of the application being made, but recent reports state that in reality this deadline is not being met.
However, Dutch Management company ITECS has had a different experience of the KMR scheme. Having registered with the Immigration and Naturalisation Service (IND) in May 2005, ITECS has since placed 12 non-EU nationals in The Netherlands as Knowledge Workers.
Of these 12 cases, 11 received their confirmation letter from the IND within the promised 2-week decision time, with only one being 2 days late.
One case received a confirmation letter from the IND within just 5 working days of applying, which is quite a different story to that portrayed by the AWVN. Not once has an ITECS KMR application been denied.
In theory, the KMR scheme has the potential to finally open The Netherlands' doors to highly skilled non-EU nationals. However, the IND has not made the process an easy one. The main inconveniences of the KMR procedure are as follows:
- the hiring company must first satisfy the requirements set by the IND in order to become categorised as a 'good employer' in The Netherlands. Only after the company has been approved by the IND can they submit individual KMR applications for their employees.
- the employee must be physically in The Netherlands before he is eligible to start working, with no promise that his case will be approved. The financial inconvenience and time wasted is an unwelcome annoyance for applicants wishing to work in The Netherlands under the KMR scheme.
- the hiring company must commit to a contractual start date without any guarantees that the employee will gain approval from the IND.
- the hiring company cannot submit the application on the employee’s behalf, this must be done in person by the employee.
- the online application form is not yet available in English, resulting in a number of expat firms having difficulty completing it correctly without seeking professional assistance.
The key to making the most of this scheme is to be as fully prepared as possible. The IND has stated that any incomplete or incorrect applications will be instantly rejected, hence the recommendation to seek professional assistance when preparing an application. As harsh as this judgement sounds, it was intended to cut down on time-wasting errors, which seemed to be a wise decision considering the volume of cases the IND was initially expecting.
Once the process has been fully researched the applications are not difficult to prepare. As long as you stick to the detailed and sometimes baffling rules of the IND you should not encounter any problems.
For instance; make sure the passport photographs are cut to the correct size, make sure the correct documents are attached, stamped and signed where necessary and make sure the employee uses a black pen to sign the form. As fussy as these rules seem, it makes sense to follow them closely and leave no reason for the IND to deny the file.
Actually submitting the application is also a relatively quick and easy procedure. An appointment is made for the employee using the IND’s efficient appointment line. The employee brings the application to the IND office and receives a confirmation sticker in his passport. The employee then awaits the decision letter stating whether their case file has been approved.
In the meantime, they can busy themselves with the formalities of moving to The Netherlands, such as seeking accommodation, registering their address at the local Town Hall and arranging a bank account.
ITECS’ success in utilising the KMR scheme has come from their being thoroughly determined to understand the application details and get them right from the start.
ITECS' director, Danny Turetsky, commented on the approach he adopted: "We invested a lot of time and effort into fully researching the procedure before launching any applications… We understood early on the importance of these applications being right first time".
The decision to offer the fast-track KMR scheme to their clients was an easy one for Mr Turetsky, following past experience with the lengthy work permit procedure; "we had previously applied for work permits in The Netherlands, and we would not return to this previous system."Our last case, for example, ended up taking 8 months and cost more than EUR 4,000. The KMR is an ideal solution for our non-EU clients wanting to work in The Netherlands, and we have had only positive feedback from those clients already working under this scheme".
As with any new procedure, wrinkles need to be ironed out of the KMR scheme. Despite a shaky start, however, this scheme still shows hidden promise of becoming the streamlined, efficient procedure that the IND had initially proposed.
Marketing & Information Resources
ITECS is a management company specialising in placing consultants throughout Europe. The company provides tax-efficient, compliant payroll solutions and assists with all local immigration requirements.
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[Copyright Expatica 2005]
Subject: expats + The Netherlands; working in the Netherlands