Netherlands

Who needs a visa?

A Schengen Visa is required by non-EEA nationals wishing to enter the Netherlands for short-term stays not involving employment or self-employed activity, unless the foreign national is exempt by Treaty or other reciprocal arrangement.

Foreign nationals who do not require a Schengen Visa may enter the Netherlands provided the foreign national:

  • Possesses a valid passport;
  • Can evidence the maintenance requirement of at least €34 per day;
  • Has a bona fide reason for visiting the Netherlands; and
  • Is not considered a threat to public order, national security or international relations.

Citizens of a small number of countries require a Transit Visa when landing in the Netherlands en route to another end destination.

Business Visa

A Schengen Short Stay Visa allows visitors to enter the Netherlands for business purposes.  EU, EEA and Swiss Citizens do not require a Schengen Visa to travel to the Netherlands on business.  Generally, citizens of any other country will require a Schengen Visa but there are a number of exceptions.

Type of Visa

A Schengen Short Stay Visa will allow a visitor to enter the Netherlands in order to attend meetings, conferences or install or repair equipment.  No ‘productive work’ may be undertaken while in the Netherlands as a Business Visitor.  If ‘productive work’ is to be undertaken, work authorisation is required in the form of a Work Permit.

Application Process

A Schengen Visa for the Netherlands should be applied for at the relevant Netherlands Visa Application Centre or Royal Netherlands Embassy, no more than 3 months in advance of the intended travel date.

Processing time

The processing time for a Dutch Schengen Short Stay Visa through the Netherlands Visa Application Centre in the UK, generally takes 15 working days, although it can take longer if additional investigation is required.

Validity

Schengen Short Stay Visas are normally issued for the duration specified in the application, up to a maximum of 90 days.

Work Authorisation

Nationals of certain countries may be exempt from the work authorisation requirement either by Treaty or by nature of a reciprocal agreement.  However, in general, in order to work in the Netherlands, a Work Permit and Residence Permit will be required for all non-EEA or Swiss nationals.

To qualify for a Netherlands Work Permit, the foreign national must have the necessary skills and qualifications to fill a position that has already been unsuccessfully advertised in the Netherlands, or which is on the Dutch occupational shortage list.  By legal requirement, the foreign worker must be between 18 and 45 years of age.

Only the Dutch employer, or an EEA company providing services to a Dutch company, can apply for a Work Permit from the Work Permit Division (Bureau Tewerkstellingsvergunningen) of the Dutch Labour Authority (UWV WERKbedrijf).  Until a Work Permit has been issued, the employer is not permitted to allow the foreign national for whom the application has been submitted, to perform any work.

There are four types of Work Permit:

  • A Work Permit for the requested period up to a maximum of three years.
  • Conditional Work Permit which is issued subject to conditions, for example, granted on the condition that the employer makes a greater effort to recruit personnel, or improves employment conditions or labour relations. A conditional permit is usually valid for less than three years.
  • A Permit for Short-Term Activities, which is valid up to a maximum of 24 weeks.
  • A Temporary Non-Extendable Permit.

Once the appropriate Work Permit application is approved by the UWV, applicants may enter the Netherlands and complete the Residence Permit process in person.  Nationals of countries exempt from the necessity to obtain an Entry Clearance Visa may enter the Netherlands to complete the Residence Permit process by applying for a Netherlands Residence Permit (known as a vergunning tijdelijk verblijf or “VTV”) at the municipality in the Netherlands where they will reside.

Type of Visa

Nationals of countries who require an Entry Clearance Visas prior to entering the Netherlands must apply forthe visa in their country of residence before travelling to the Netherlands. Usually, this will be a Provisional Residence Permit Entry Visa known as machtiging tot voorlopig verblijf, which is abbreviated to “MVV”.

Application Process

New applications for work authorisation and Work Permits must be made by the prospective Dutch employer or by an EEA company providing services to a Dutch company.  In the majority of cases the employer must advertise the job vacancy for a period of 5 weeks before submitting an application for a Work Permit to the UWV in order to demonstrate that an attempt was made to find a suitable candidate from the EU/EEA.  However, if the post is difficult to fill, employers must show that they have attempted to fill the vacancy over the course of 3 months, using every possible means.  Once submitted to the UWV, the Work Permit application can take up to 5 weeks to be processed.

Once the appropriate Work Permit application is approved by the UWV, applicants may enter the Netherlands (with their Entry Visa, if applicable) and complete the Residence Permit process in person.

Nationals of countries exempt from needing to obtain an Entry Clearance Visa, may enter the Netherlands to complete the Residence Permit process by applying for a Netherlands Residence Permit (known in Dutch as a vergunning tijdelijk verblijf or “VTV”) at the municipality in the Netherlands where they will reside.

Foreign workers who require Visas to enter the Netherlands must submit an application for the MVV Provisional Residence Permit, at the Dutch diplomatic post in their country of residence, before the Work Permit application is made.  Upon approval of the Work Permit, the foreign worker’s Entry Visa will be granted and the applicant may then enter the Netherlands to complete the Residence Permit process in the Netherlands.

Whilst the foreign national’s application is under consideration, the foreign national is prohibited from travelling to any Schengen State until a decision is made on the application.

Processing time

The processing time for work authorisation and appropriate Work Permit applications, from the date of submission, to being able to work, is generally 5 months.  The entry clearance process can vary across Dutch diplomatic posts, and the in country Residence Permit process will vary depending upon location.

Validity

Work authorisation, Work Permits and Residence Permits can be granted for up to 3 years, after which the foreign national may apply for permanent residency.

A Dutch Work Permit is employer-specific.  Therefore, if a foreign national in the Netherlands with a valid Work Permit wishes to commence employment with another Dutch company, he may not do so until a new Work Permit has been obtained.

Family

Foreign nationals who wish to work in the Netherlands may bring their partner and children with them to the Netherlands.

A foreign national’s partner may enter the Netherlands in one of two ways:

  • On the basis of having their own purpose for staying in the Netherlands, i.e. securing a job in the Netherlands on their own account; or
  • As the foreign national’s dependent partner or spouse.

If a partner or child of the foreign national enter the Netherlands as a dependent, they must still apply for an MVV or VTV as appropriate.

Penalties for non compliance

Employer:

An employer in the Netherlands who is found to have breached the Dutch immigration rules may be subject to the following penalties:

  • If an employer which is a legal, registered entity in the Netherlands is found guilty employing a foreign national without a valid Work Permit, the employer and as the foreign national may be a fined between €4,000 and €8,000.
  • Where a foreign national provides services to one or more companies in the Netherlands, it is the responsibility of the company stated on the foreign national’s Work Permit to provide all of the client companies with copies of the foreign national’s identity documents and Residence Permit.  Failure to do so can result in a fine of €1,500 per violation.
  • Employers named on Work Permits are required to verify the identity of each foreign national employee and keep copies of identification documents and residence permits on file.  Failure to do so can result in a fine of €1,500 per violation of this directive.

Employers who repeatedly fail to comply with their obligations as sponsors of foreign nationals may also face criminal prosecutions in addition to the above penalties.

Employee:

If a foreign national employee is found to be employed without a valid Work Permit, the foreign national may receive a fine of between €4,000 and €8,000.

Foreign national employees are obliged to provide their Dutch employer with copies of their identification documents and residence permits.  Failure to do so can result in a fine of €150.  Should the employee be found to have committed a further offence within 2 years of a previous offence, the penalty will be increased by 50%.

Points to Note

  • The employer must comply with the applicable employment conditions (salary level, collective employment conditions, etc).
  • The employer must offer the foreign national employee “safe and hygienic” accommodation.
  • The foreign national employee must not be younger than 18 or older than 45 years, and they must have a valid Residence Permit.
  • Many personal documents, such as birth and marriage certificates must not be older than 6 months, and will need to be legalised and possibly translated.

The contents of this article are for information purposes only.  The information and opinions expressed in this document do not constitute legal advice and should not be regarded as a substitute for legal advice or a comprehensive statement of law or current practice.  Immigration rules and requirements frequently change without notice.  You should not rely upon the contents of this document but instead should seek appropriate professional and legal advice in the light of your personal circumstances.  No liability is accepted for the opinions contained or for any errors or commissions. Please contact our Global Immigration Team for further information.