If you want to work in the Netherlands as an employee (a labour migrant), there are multiple options for obtaining a Dutch residence permit, outlined in this guide.
If you want to live in the Netherlands to work as an employee, your type of work will dictate which Dutch residence permit you need and whether you require an additional Dutch work permit or not.
For most types of labour, your employer must get work authorisation for you in addition to your application for a Dutch residence permit (for the purpose of employment) if you plan to stay in the Netherlands for longer than 90 days. Typically, an employee will qualify to apply for a single permit, which combines both the residence and work permits into one application process. For certain categories of workers, work authorisation is included in their residence permit, for example, highly skilled migrants or ‘blue card’ residents. Some categories of employment do not qualify, however, and separate residence and work permits are required.
This guide answers some important questions about working in the Netherlands:
- Who can enter the Netherlands without a permit?
- Highly skilled migrant workers
- Who qualifies for the employee single permit?
- Who requires separate residence and work permits?
- Conditions for working in the Netherlands
- How to apply for your permit
- Application cost and timeframe
- If your circumstances change
- Contact the IND
The requirements for entering and staying in the Netherlands depend on your nationality and the duration of your stay.
Certain nationalities require an entry visa (MVV) plus a Dutch residence permit if they plan to live in the Netherlands for more than 90 days. Find out if you need an MVV for entering the Netherlands, or if you only need a Dutch residence permit in our guide to provisional residence permits (MVV) and temporary residence permits.
If you don’t require an entry permit for the Netherlands, you can enter the country with your passport. After you have arrived, you must apply for a residence permit for stays of more than 90 days.
Citizens from member states in the European Union (EU), European Economic Area (EEA – EU plus Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway) or Switzerland do not need a residence permit to live in the Netherlands, although other registrations apply. Read more in our guide for EU/EEA/Swiss nationals moving to the Netherlands.
Below is an explanation of the different types of Dutch residence permits for the purpose of employment.
If you are a highly skilled worker, your employer can obtain a ‘highly skilled migrant’ or a ‘blue card’ residence permit which includes work authorisation for you. To qualify, typically you must meet the applicable salary threshold; in 2016, it was set at EUR 3,108 for under 30s and EUR 4,240 for over 30s.
To obtain the highly skilled migrant permit, your employer must be recognised by the Immigration and Naturalisation Service (IND). The IND aims to process these applications in two weeks. For the blue card permit, your employer does not need to be recognised by the IND, but the process will be quicker for recognised sponsors. Read more about the requirements and application process in our guide to residence permits for highly skilled migrants.
As of April 2014, most labour migrants coming to the Netherlands for more than three months will receive the single permit GVVA (gecombineerde vergunning voor verblijf en arbeid), which combines the Dutch residence permit and work permit.
You or your employer can apply for the single permit through the IND, who sends the application to the Netherlands Employees Insurance Agency (Uitvoeringsinstituut Werknemersverzekeringen, UWV). The UWV then checks if you fulfil the conditions set out in the Foreign National Employment Act (Wet Arbeid Vreemdelingen, Wav), and advises the IND on your application. With a positive recommendation from the UWV, the IND will proceed to assess your residence permit application.
Generally the single permit is issued for one year, although for some categories of employees the permit is issued for three years.
Employees who qualify for the single permit are:
- Regular labour migrants
- Certain foreign nationals working in the Asian restaurant industry
- Teachers in international education
- Ministers of religion and spiritual leaders.
Some categories of employees cannot obtain the single permit. Employers must apply for a separate work for the following labour migrants:
- Labour migrant working in the Netherlands for less than three months
- Seasonal workers
- Students who take up work
- Asylum seekers
- Croatian nationals
- Intra-company transferees
- Service providers (if not work permit exempt)
- Graduates on an orientation year permit
- Family members of single permit holders
For these foreign nationals, employers need to obtain a separate Dutch work permit (tewerkstellingsvergunning, TWV) issued by the UWV. The foreign national – or the employer on their behalf – must also apply for a Dutch residence permit for stays of more than 90 days, with an entry permit (MVV), if applicable.
The conditions and documents required for the labour migrant residence and work authorisation depend on your category of stay.
For a regular labour migrant work permit (ie. not falling within any of the specific categories), the following conditions apply:
- You must earn at least the Dutch minimum wage for employees over the age of 23.
- You must earn a ‘competitive salary’ while working in the Netherlands.
- Your employer must submit information about the recruitment process to show that the positions could not be filled by an EU/EEA/Swiss national (labour market test).
- You must have sufficient long-term means of support, for at least for 12 months or for the duration of contract if less than a year – you can check the current income requirements here.
For some work permit applications, the labour market test is not required, for example, intra-company transfers, interns, and refugees.
You will need to submit certain documents to support your application, depending on the category you apply for. These include copies of your passport/travel ID, and in some cases your educational diplomas – check with your employer for the specific documents required. The employer will also need to submit information about the company itself, your employment contract and, if required, the recruitment process. Also, there can be specific salary requirement for certain categories.
Some foreign documents will have to be legalised and be in Dutch, English, French or German. For further information, read how to prepare supporting documents for Dutch visa and permit applications.
Application for employee single permit
You, or usually your employer, can submit the single permit application to the IND. If you are submitting your own application you can use this downloadable application form. The IND will forward your application the Dutch employment agency (UWV), and based on the UWV’s advice the IND will make the final decision on your permit.
If your application is successful, the IND will notify your employer. You will then be required to go to the IND to collect your single permit in person. The permit consists of two documents: a residence document and a separate work permit supplement stating for which employer and under which conditions you may work. Your employer will receive a copy of the latter.
Application for an employee residence permit
If you are not eligible for the single permit, you and/or your employer will need to make two separate applications: a residence permit application, with an entry permit (MVV) if applicable, to the IND plus a separate work permit application to the UWV. Only your employer can apply for your work permit, but either you or your employer can submit your residence permit application.
The IND will then wait for a copy of the work permit before approving your residence permit application. The original work permit is sent to your employer directly; to obtain your residence permit you will need to visit the IND in person.
The fee (EUR 881 in 2016) is a non-refundable fee for processing your application. You will not receive a refund if your application is refused. Fees are reviewed yearly, however, so check here for the latest information.
The IND has three months to process your application.
There’s a simplified fast-track procedure for employers who are IND recognised sponsors. If your employer has registered, the IND aims to process your application within two or seven weeks, depending on whether a separate work permit is required.
Your work permit (supplement) will indicate your work status. You will be able to work as long as your employer holds work authorisation or a work permit in your name.
The single permit is valid for up to one year and can be extended. A separate residence permit will be valid for the same length of time as the work permit obtained by your employer (usually up to one year) but can be extended as long as you still fulfil the conditions. Find out how you can extend your permit.
Some categories of employees, however, can get a permit for up to three years.
Whether you have a single permit or separate residence and work permits, the IND must be informed of any changes relevant to your residence status within four weeks, for example, if you change employers. The IND will assess whether your changed situation still meets the requirements of your residency.
If you leave paid employment but wish to stay in the Netherlands under different circumstances (for example, to study, be with a relative or partner or to work as self-employed), you will have to apply for a new residence permit and prove that you fulfil the new conditions required for that purpose stay. You can read the complete guide to Dutch visas and permits to find out if you’re eligible to apply for a new residence permit with a different purpose of stay.
The Immigration & Naturalisation Service (IND)
For queries or to make an appointment, you can contact the IND by phone Monday to Friday, 9am–5pm on 088 0430 430 from within the Netherlands or +31 88 0430 430 from abroad.
7600 AG ALMELO
The IND’s twitter account @IND_NL can also be contacted for general queries between Monday to Friday 9am–5pm.
This information is for guidance only and you should seek specific advice from the Dutch embassy or consulate in your home country.