Minister wants 'green card' for expat workers

20th September 2004, Comments 0 comments

20 September 2004 , AMSTERDAM — Economic Affairs Minister Jan Laurens Brinkhorst has confirmed he wants to introduce a "green card" system to make it easier for skilled expats to come to the Netherlands to work.

20 September 2004

AMSTERDAM — Economic Affairs Minister Jan Laurens Brinkhorst has confirmed he wants to introduce a "green card" system to make it easier for skilled expats to come to the Netherlands to work.

The Democrat D66 minister said the system — similar to that used by the immigration service in the US — would focus entry requirements firmly on the profession of the foreigner and the labour needs of Dutch industry sectors, news agency ANP reported.

He said the main advantage of the green card system would be to increase competition in the domestic labour market.

Starting from 1 October, it will become much easier for highly educated expats to enter the country and start working, but Brinkhorst said this is only the "first step".

Brinkhorst was referring to Cabinet plans paving the way for one point of contact, one procedure and one permit for skilled or so-called "knowledge migrants" earning a minimum gross income of EUR 45,000.

The income criterion will not apply to foreigners entering into employment as a doctoral student at an educational or research institute and for postgraduates and university teachers under 30 years of age.

The issue will again be discussed on Friday during the Cabinet's weekly meeting. No problems are expected in finalising the policy in time for the 1 October implementation date.

It is the second time this year that Brinkhorst has taken up the fight for expat workers. At the end of February, he said the country is being economically disadvantaged because it places too many restrictions on the entry of foreign engineers and software developers.

He said the Netherlands uses entry criteria that are much stricter than any other European country. "What we are missing is an immigration policy in relation to the transfer of knowledge," the minister said.

Speaking at a conference for refugee students in Amsterdam on Saturday, Brinkhorst reiterated his opposition to the fact that under pressure from the Parliament, the Netherlands is still restricting the entry of workers from the new European Union member states.

The economic affairs minister said he does not share the fear that the Netherlands will be inundated with foreigners if it employs a more liberal immigration policy.

In general, Dutch work permits are not automatically issued to citizens of most of the 10 new EU states. Instead, employers first need to prove that no other Dutch workers can be found for the job. Exceptions have applied on a three-month provisional basis from 1 August in sectors with proven work shortages. 

But these restrictions and exemptions are in contrast to the UK, which opened its borders for workers from the new EU countries from 1 May. Figures have indicated that in July, just 8,000 people from the new member states migrated to Britain.

"This experience belies the fear for a mass influx," Brinkhorst said.

[Copyright Expatica News 2004]

Subject: Dutch news

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