Work Visas in the Netherlands

The Netherlands is one of the oldest open economies in the world. The country’s high standard of living, internationally-minded cultural, and incentives for business are just a few of the reasons that nearly 200,000 people move to work in the Netherlands per year.

Whether you’re planning to bring non-Dutch employees from abroad or make the move to the Netherlands for work yourself, there are a few options you can utilize.

By providing an overview of the requirements and conditions of each visa, this article aims to help non-Dutch employees have a better understanding of the visa for which they need to apply.

Highly Skilled Migrant Visa (Kennismigrant)

The Highly Skilled Migrant is one of the more straightforward visas for non-EU workers working in the Netherlands. This visa is most suitable for businesses seeking to hire employees from outside Europe in a non-entry level position. For a non-Dutch person to obtain this visa, both the business and the employee must fulfill certain requirements:

  • Employee must NOT have an EU/EEA or Swiss nationality. This visa is only for non-EU people.
  • Employee has lived more than 150km from the Dutch border in the last 24 months
  • Business must be registered as a Recognized Sponsor by the IND
  • Business must offer an employment contract of at least 3 months to the employee
  • Business must offer a GROSS salary (excluding holiday allowance) that meets the criteria below (See salary criteria 2021)

Salary criteria 2021*

​Highly skilled migrants 30 years or older ​€ 4,752 gross per month
​Highly skilled migrants younger than 30 years ​€ 3,484 gross per month
​Reduced salary criterion** ​​€ 2,497 gross per month

** The reduced salary criterion is applicable in some circumstances such as:

– The Highly Skilled Migrant Visa has applied for the Residence Permit during the Orientation Year Visa and immediately follows this Visa.

In order to become a recognized sponsor by the IND, the company has to go through a long process and need to fill some requirements. If the company wishes, it can use the services of an umbrella company, they usually take care of the whole visa request.

During the Highly Skilled Migrant Visa duration, the employee can transfer his/her Visa to another company. To do so, the employee has to make sure that there is no gap between the two labor contracts. Indeed, an unemployment gap could cause the loss of residency or affect the eligibility for Dutch citizenship or permanent residency. The current employer needs to inform the IND 28 days prior to the termination of the contract while the new employer needs to be a recognized sponsor and must inform the IND within 28 days prior to the beginning of the contract.

For more information, visit the official website:


European Blue card (Europse Blauwe Kaart)

The European Blue Card is a European Union-wide initiative to enable highly-skilled non-EU people to live and work in Europe. The European Blue Card contains similar – albeit stricter – requirements compared to the Dutch Highly Skilled Migrant visa.

The advantage of the European Blue Card is that it enables employees more flexibility in where they live in Europe. See the requirements of the Highly Skilled Migrant in the article above, and consider the following additional requirements:

  • Employee has earned at least a Master’s degree (or equivalent)
  • Business must offer an employment contract of at least one year
  • Business must offer a salary of at least ​€ 5,567 gross per month (excluding vacation pay)

For more information, visit the official website:


Intra corporate transferees

Businesses that operate globally may need to transfer their employees to different branches around the world. An intra- corporate transferee is an employee with a non-EU nationality who needs to move to the Netherlands for living and work.

Thanks to the Intra EU-mobility framework, the employee will also be able to move from an EU Member State branch to another, except for The UK, Denmark, and Ireland. Here are some conditions that the employee needs to fulfill before the application:

  • Employee is currently employed with a business established outside the EU
  • Employee is essential to the operations of the Dutch branch, OR;
  • Employee is a trainee (Master’s degree required)
  • Business must offer a GROSS salary (excluding holiday allowance) that meets the criteria of the Highly Skilled Migrant

For more information, visit the official website:


Single Permit (GVVA)

The Single permit, also called GVVA (in Dutch) is a combination of a work and residence permit. This permit is intended for workers coming from outside EU/EEA and Switzerland planning to stay in the Netherlands for a minimum of 3 months and do not necessarily meet the criteria of a “Highly skilled migrant”.

As a business planning to utilize this permit, there are a few requirements about the position employers must fulfill.

  • Job vacancy must remain open and advertised for at least 5 weeks before applying
  • Business is a recognized sponsor
  • Business must offer a salary that enables the business to pay at least ​€ 1,684.8 gross per month (excluding holiday pay) in tax and social contributions

Some people are excluded from applying to this Visa: students, asylum seekers, employees transferred within a multinational group, seasonal workers and Croatian citizens. They have to request a work permit and a residence permit separately.

Here are a few examples of professions that may apply for a Single Permit Visa:

  • Trainee or apprentice
  • Cooks or chefs
  • Arts and entertainment professionals
  • Spiritual counselors or monks
  • Staff of non-profit organizations
  • Professional sportspeople/athletes
  • Seasonal employees

For more information, visit the official website:


Orientation Year Visa (Zoekjaar visa)

The Orientation Year Visa is addressed to all young graduates or Ph.D. holders that have completed a diploma or done scientific research in the previous 3 years and are willing to look for a job in the Netherlands. The ones who obtain the visa are allowed to live and work in the Netherlands for a period of 12 months. Individuals may apply for this visa themselves and do not require an employment contract.

In order to be eligible for the Orientation Year Visa, the applicant needs to fulfill one of these conditions in the Netherlands:

  • completed a bachelor’s or master’s program;
  • complete at least one year of a post-master’s program;
  • completed a master’s degree in an Erasmus Masters Course;
  • conducted scientific research or obtained a PhD.

When the Orientation Year Visa expires, the applicant can apply for a Highly Skilled Migrant Visa, if s/he fulfills the requirements requested by the IND. This option can be very interesting for the employer, indeed if the employee has been previously on an Orientation Year Visa, a reduced salary criterion can be applied.



Residence permit as a Start-up (Verblijfsvergunning voor start-up)

Residence Permit as Start-up allows people who wish to launch a Start-up, to work in the Netherlands for one year. One of the conditions for this residence permit is to be supervised by a facilitator.

This facilitator must:

  • have experience in guiding innovative start-ups;
  • be financially sound;
  • not be in any case in receivership or bankrupt nor have negative equity;
  • not have a majority interest in the start-up company.

Moreover, the startup entrepreneur will need a business plan and will have to prove that his/her product or service is innovative, and that he has enough financial resources to live decently during the whole duration of the permit, without receiving any benefits from public funds.

Furthermore, both the start-up entrepreneur and the facilitator will need to be registered in the Trade Register of the Chamber of Commerce.




Other Visas

If you are not complying with any of the requirements for the previously mentioned Visas, not everything is lost. You can still apply for a residence permit if you would like to work as:

  • a self-employed person
  • a mass media correspondent
  • a researcher

For more information about Dutch visas and their requirements, visit the IND website:

What can Octagon do for you?

Octagon Professionals offers international deployment and immigration settlement to match employers with skilled professionals from outside of the EU/EEA and Switzerland. Octagon is a recognized sponsor of the Immigration and Naturalization Service (IND) and can facilitate the highly skilled migrant visa.

If you are a skilled migrant looking for employment in the Netherlands, upload your CV and browse the vacancies on our portal. If you are an employer hire professionals from outside EU/EEA country and bring them to the Netherlands, schedule a consultation with us today!

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