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A Guide to Visa Types and Work Permits in the Netherlands

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  • Pascal Tremblay

    With InterNations as my network, I have been able to make many friends learn the ins and outs about living in The Hague.

Nationals of the US, Australia, South Korea, and a few other lucky countries can breathe a little easier, as they do not need to apply for a Netherlands visa to immigrate. However, they do need to obtain a residence permit, which they can get once they are in the country.

European Union (EU) and European Economic Area (EEA) citizens, as well as expats from Switzerland, should have an even easier time. They do not need to go through any Netherlands visa or residence permit application processes at all. Their travel ID is sufficient to allow them to live and work in the Netherlands.

This section looks closely at requirements for visas to the Netherlands if you are not from the EU or EEA. You will need to know in detail about your situation, as the different visa types depend on the purpose of your stay.

Another aspect this section covers is the costs and fees for a Netherlands visa. Again, the total paid will depend on the purpose of your stay. Usually, the fees do not run high. However, if you opt for a self-employment visa, you will need to pay over 1,300 EUR (1,500 USD) for your application.

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Work Permits and Employment-Based Visas

The type of work permit and employment visa you need to live and work in the Netherlands depend on the country you are from. However, unless you are an investor or entrepreneur, you do not need to apply for a work permit or employment visa yourself. The application process is the responsibility of the employer that acts as your host in the country.

What Documents Do You Need?

There are three documents you might need when moving to work in the Netherlands. They are:

  • Work permit.
  • Residence permit.
  • Long-stay visa (Machtiging tot Voorlopig Verblijf, or MVV).

You might need all or a combination of these depending on your skills and where you are from. All of the applications are processed by the Immigration and Naturalization Service (IND). The necessary documents need to be presented in English, Dutch, German, or French, and  legalized.

Note that if you are an EU/EEA or Swiss national, you do not need any of these documents. A passport or ID card is sufficient proof allowing you to live and work in the Netherlands.

Netherlands Work Permit Eligibility

In most cases, when moving to the Netherlands for work, you will need a work permit (sometimes referred to as TWV). The only exception is if you are applying for a highly skilled migrant visa. In this case, you do not need an additional work permit.

Netherlands Work Permit Application Form

The Netherlands work permit application form will be filled in and submitted by your employer. They will tell you what documents you need to present.

Do You Need a Residence Permit for the Netherlands?

All nationals that are not from EU/EEA member states or Switzerland require a residence permit to stay in the Netherlands. How and when you should apply for one depends on whether or not you need a long-stay visa.

In most cases you will need both a work and resident permit. You can submit a joint application for both, called GVVA, or the Single Permit. Please note that, unless you are self-employed, it will be your employer who takes care of your residence permit.

Do You Need a Long-Stay Visa for the Netherlands?

The Netherlands’s long-stay visa, also known as the authorization for temporary stay or MVV, is necessary only for nationals of certain countries. If you are a national of the following countries, you do not need a visa to stay in the Netherlands:

  • EU/EEA member countries
  • Andorra
  • Australia
  • Canada
  • Japan
  • Monaco
  • New Zealand
  • San Marino
  • South Korea
  • Switzerland
  • United States
  • Vatican City

Other exemptions include having a residence permit for another Schengen Area country or living with a family member who is a national of an EU/EEA country. There is a full list online.

Application for a Long-Stay Visa

There are two ways of applying for the MVV in the Netherlands: Doing it yourself at an embassy or consulate, or having your host apply on your behalf. The purpose of your stay determines the approach you should take when applying.

Your host (employer, university, family member, etc.) has to submit your visa application form for the Netherlands if the reason for your stay is:

  • Work.
  • Studies.
  • Marriage to a Dutch national.
  • Family reunification.

You have to apply for the MVV yourself if the reason for your stay is:

  • Looking for employment as a highly skilled migrant (orientation year).
  • Independent entrepreneurship.
  • Start-up.
  • Investments.

When you apply for a long-stay visa, you automatically apply for a residence permit at the same time. The work permit application is still separate.

In order to be granted a long-stay visa in the Netherlands, you might need to take a  civic integration exam. It tests your knowledge of Dutch society as well as your Dutch language skills (speaking and reading). The cost to take the exam is 150 EUR (175 USD).

Work Visa Requirements in the Netherlands

The requirements for the Netherlands work visa depend on what type of business you are involved in. You might be an intracompany transferee, a highly skilled migrant, or a European blue card holder. However, there are some general conditions you have to meet in order to apply. These are:

  • Having a valid passport or another travel document.
  • Stating that you have a clear criminal record and the information you provide in the application is true.
  • Undergoing a medical test for tuberculosis once you arrive.

Additional requirements usually include earning sufficient income for that visa type and your employer being recognized by the Netherlands’s government.

The Netherlands Work Visa Cost

The cost for your visa application depends on what type of visa you are applying for. Usually, the costs for a work visa do not exceed 300 EUR (330 USD).

Netherlands Business Visa

You can stay for up to 90 days on business in the Netherlands if you have a short-stay (type-c) visa to enter the country for business. You do not need a short-stay visa to enter the Netherlands on business if you are an EU or EEA national, from Switzerland, are a citizen of a Schengen Area country, or if you have a residence permit/long-stay visa issued by another Schengen area country.

Documents You Will Need

  • An invitation letter from the Dutch company you will visit, listing their address and the dates of your visit.
  • A letter from your employer detailing your business travel.
  • Proof of previous trade relations between the two companies, if this has happened.
  • Original and certified copies of business documents, such as a Memorandum and Article of Association, proprietorship/partnership documents, and so on.
  • Business bank statement covering the last 6 months.

You must also prove you have enough expenses to cover your stay (at least 55 EUR (65 USD) per day). Your employer or the company you are visiting should write on their letter or invitation how much of your expenses are being covered.

The Netherlands Family Visa

The holders of a long-stay Netherlands visa can bring their spouse or long-term partner  and  children under 18 years of age  with them. The visa holder needs to apply for family member visas for their relatives in the Netherlands.

The application can be submitted  online  (only available in Dutch) or filled out in person. The cost for the spousal visa is 174 EUR (200 USD) while a visa for a child costs 58 EUR (67 USD).

If you have a family member that is an  EU/EEA or Swiss national  who is lawfully staying in the Netherlands, you will have an easier time getting accepted in the country.

Registering with Your Municipality

Note that you must make an appointment at the local City Office within five days of your arrival to the Netherlands. There, you will receive your Dutch citizens service number.  

Manage Your Documents Online with DigiD

Some government services are available online with a DigiD account. This government app allows you to prove your identity online without needing to provide any type of travel document, such as your passport or ID card. You can only  sign up  for it online. A Dutch cell phone number and a Dutch citizen’s service number are necessary in order to complete the application.

Self-Employment Visas

In general, the Netherlands is a very welcoming country for entrepreneurs. As well as a dedicated self-employment visa, the country runs a specific program for people who wish to set up a start-up in the Netherlands.

The following information only concerns third-country nationals, as EU/EEA and Swiss nationals do not need a self-employment visa to be self-employed in the Netherlands.

The Netherlands Self-Employment Visa: Requirements

One of the main requirements is that your business activity must serve an essential purpose for the Dutch economy. The products or services that you offer need to be innovative. The value of your business pursuit is assessed by the  Netherlands Enterprise Agency. They  score your idea  based on your:

  • Experience (education, entrepreneurship, and work experience, etc.).
  • Business plan (financing, market analysis, product or service, price, and organization).
  • Business’s benefit to the Netherlands (innovation, created job positions, and investments).

You are marked out of 300 points. You need to get at least 30 from each section (90 in total) for your idea to be approved. Note that if you are a Turkish national or you have a long-term resident EC status (explained further on in the guide), the scoring system does not apply to you.

Other requirements for the self-employment visa are:

  • You have to meet the requirements necessary to practice your profession, such as having the right licenses.
  • Your business plan has to show that you will earn sufficient income to sustain your lifestyle.
  • You need to be registered in the Trade Register of the Chamber of Commerce.

Freelancers also need to have at least one commission in the Netherlands that they are planning to carry out. If you are a healthcare professional that wishes to be self-employed in the Netherlands, you need to register with  BIG-register. American and Japanese nationals do not need to meet the above-mentioned criteria if they do business between their home country and the Netherlands.

The Netherlands Self-Employment Visa: Application Form

If you do need a long-stay visa (MVV) to enter the country, as a self-employed person you will need to submit your application yourself. This includes both documents for the visa and for the residence permit.

Required Documents

The self-employment application form requires all or a combination of the following documents:

  • Licenses approved by Dutch authorities that prove that you can practice your profession.
  • A business plan.
  • A completed declaration of income of self-employed person, an appendix that comes with your application in which you state that you have income as a self-employed person. You will need to attach a signed report of your accountant to this declaration.
  • Copies of awarded diplomas and educational certificates.
  • Evidence that shows innovation of your product (e.g., a patent form) and that new job positions will be created.
  • Data related to proposed investments.
  • Contracts of previous employment.
  • Turnover data from the Dutch market.

Freelancers also need to present their freelance assignment agreements. Evidence of financial means must be checked by an independent expert.

The Netherlands Self-Employment Visa: Costs

The standard application for a self-employment visa in the Netherlands costs 1,348 EUR (1,488 USD). If you are a Turkish national, this visa costs you 57 EUR (63 USD) or 66 EUR (73 USD), depending on whether you need MVV or not. If you are from San Marino or Israel, this visa is free of charge.

The Process of Setting Up a Start-Up in the Netherlands

If you have a reliable facilitator in the Netherlands, starting your business there will be easier. Still, your start-up needs to be innovative and have a step-by-step plan of how the business is supposed to progress.

You and your facilitator also need to register at  Trade Register of the Chamber of Commerce,  and you need to have sufficient financial means to be able to live in the Netherlands. However, the amount of planning and documentation that goes into applying for the general self-employment visa will not be necessary.

The facilitator who acts as the supervisor of the project. The start-up entrepreneur needs to sign a written agreement with the facilitator that states their support. The facilitator must:

  • Have experience with guiding innovative start-ups.
  • Be financially secure.
  • Not have negative equity nor records of bankruptcy.
  • Not have majority interest in the start-up.
  • Not be a family member of third degree (parent, child, grandparent, uncle, aunt, etc.).

Residency Permits: Temporary and Permanent

Wondering how to become a Netherlands permanent resident? Again, this is a lot easier if you are an EU or EEA national, as you move to the country and settle for five years. If you are not an EU/EEA country or Swiss national, you need to apply for a temporary residence permit to begin your journey towards permanent residency. How to apply for this depends on which country you are from. Once you have this document, and you have stayed in the Netherlands for more than five years, you can also become a Netherlands permanent resident.

How to Apply for a Temporary Residence Permit

If you need a long-stay visa (MVV) to live and work in the Netherlands, you will need to apply for your temporary residence permit together with your visa. The documents you need to present when applying depends on the purpose of your stay.

If MVV is not required for your move, you can apply for the residence permit in two ways:

  • through your employer, or
  • by yourself once you arrive in the Netherlands.

If you are doing it yourself, you need to fill out your form, gather the necessary documents and send the temporary residence permit application letter to the Immigration and Naturalization Service (IND). They will mail you back stating the costs you need to cover and how to do it. Keep in mind that the requirements and fees for the temporary residence permit depend on the reason you wish to stay in the Netherlands.

However, if your employer can help you with your application, you can opt for the Single Permit. This allows you to get both the resident and work permit with one application.

How to Get Permanent Residency in the Netherlands

EU/EEA or Swiss Residents or Their Family

If you want to become a permanent resident in the Netherlands as an EU/EEA or Swiss national, you need to live in the Netherlands for five years. The process will be easier for you than for the third-country nationals. If your family member (spouse, child, grandchild, great-grandchild, parent, grandparent, or parent-in-law) is from one of the EU/EEA countries or Switzerland, you also qualify for this type of processing.

Non-EU/EEA or Swiss Residents

In order to qualify for permanent residence in the Netherlands you have to reside there for five years without any major interruptions. Once you fulfil this requirement, you can decide whether you wish to apply for long-term resident EC status or permanent residence in the Netherlands. The main difference between the two is that long-term resident EC status allows people to more easily apply for a residence permit in other EU countries. The IND will check whether you qualify for this status when you apply for permanent residence.

Permanent Residence Benefits in the Netherlands

The most important advantage of getting a permanent residence permit in the Netherlands is that it grants you permission to stay in the country indefinitely. That grants you more freedom in the local labor market as you do not need to have a job contract in order to live there.

The Netherlands Permanent Resident Visa Requirements

For EU/EEA or Swiss residents:

  • You have continuously and legally resided in the Netherlands for 5 years.
  • You have a passport or another travel document.
  • You have registered with a local municipality.

In order for your stay to be considered legal, you need to be able to prove that during it you had sufficient funds to support yourself. That means you might need to provide evidence on your employment and salary, your savings, or that you were receiving social welfare benefits. The Immigration and Naturalization Service looks into the whole five years of records.

For non-EU/EEA or Swiss residents:

  • You have legally resided in the Netherlands for 5 years without major interruptions (six or more consecutive months or three years in a row for four or more consecutive months).
  • You have a valid, non-temporary permit to stay in the Netherlands when submitting your application.
  • You have registered with a local municipality.
  • You have independent, sufficient, and sustainable income.
  • You have passed the  civic integration exam.

You only qualify for long-term resident EC status if you have not left the Netherlands for six consecutive months, or ten months in total during the mandatory five-year period. Also, during this period, you have to have had a non-temporary residence here.

Application Process for Permanent Residence in the Netherlands

The application can be submitted online through DigiD or sent to IND by post. Your temporary residence permit will still be valid once you submit your application. You can do so three months before your permit expires. Then you will receive a notice from IND about the fees you need to pay for application processing.

Once your application is accepted, you will need to present your biometrics data at an IND office. It should take less than six months for IND to make a decision about your residence status.

Permanent residence is valid for five years. After that, you need to apply for renewal.

Permanent Resident Fees in the Netherlands

If you are an EU/EEA, Swiss, or Turkish national, your application will cost you 58 EUR (63 USD). For children under 18 years of age the fee is 31 EUR (35 USD). The price for the renewal is the same.

For third country nationals, the price for the first-time application is 174 EUR (205 USD) while applications for children under 18 cost 58 EUR (70 USD). Permanent residency renewals for adults cost 58 EUR (70 USD) and 31 EUR (35 USD) for children.

The start-up visa application fee is 333 EUR (395 USD).

Permanent Residence for Family Members

Obtaining permanent residence visa for family members is easier if your family member (spouse, child, grandchild, great-grandchild, parent, grandparent, or parent-in-law) is an EU/EEA or Swiss national. If that is not the case, the permanent residence application process for spouses or other family members is handled in the usual way (see above).

Fiancé Visa for the Netherlands

While there is no such thing as the Netherlands fiancé visa, you can bring your long-term and exclusive partner as a family member to the country. For that, you will need to submit a relationship declaration in which you state that you wish to live and run a joint household together.

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