Dutch citizens or holders of a Dutch residence permit for a non-temporary purpose of residence (except for study) may bring their foreign partner (whether married or unmarried) to the Netherlands.
Minor children who have maintained a family life with the parent who is a Dutch citizen or residence permit holder may also come to the Netherlands. Young adults (children roughly between 18-25 years) can only come to the Netherlands if they have always belonged to the family of the parent residing in the Netherlands. For family reunification with children aged 18 to 25 is required that they be financially dependent on the parent in the Netherlands and not able to support themselves, they are unmarried or have a long-term relationship and do not have children themselves.
Adopted children can also come to the Netherlands in the context of family reunification, but separate conditions apply to them. You can read more about this on our International Adoption page.
Mvv and residence permit
Partners that are citizens of any EU country, or Switzerland, Australia, Canada, Japan, Monaco, New Zealand, Vatican City, the United States of America, or South Korea may travel to the Netherlands without a visa and submit an application for a residence permit in the Netherlands. Partners from other countries need a special visa: provisional residence permit (mvv). This visa is applied for at the same time as the residence permit.
If the application for family reunification is approved, the foreign partner can collect the visa at the embassy or consulate in the country of origin or principal residence. The residence permit can be collected from the IND after arrival in the Netherlands. This permit is valid for 5 years, unless the family member in the Netherlands has a residence permit for a shorter period. In this case, the same end date of this residence permit applies to the family members.
The residence permit also allows the holder to legally work in the Netherlands. The foreign partner will generally have the same work rights as the Dutch family member.
Basis Civic integration exam abroad
If the foreign partner needs an mvv and is younger than 65, they must first take an integration exam. This requires a basic knowledge of the Dutch language and society. The exam consists of three parts: reading skills, speaking skills and knowledge of Dutch society. The exam must be taken at the Dutch embassy or consulate in the country of origin or principal residence.
If it is not possible to take the exam due to special personal circumstances, an exemption can be requested.
The exam currently costs €150. The application for an mvv and residence permit must be submitted within one year of passing the examination.
The family member that is a citizen of the Netherlands must have sufficient income that is independent and sustainable. The income must be at least the statutory minimum wage. If the family member has multiple jobs in the Netherlands, the wages may be added together. The current statutory minimum wage can be found here.
The income is considered sustainable if the Dutch family member has an employment contract for at least 1 year at the time of the application. Entrepreneurs or freelancers must have earned sufficient income from their enterprise for at least 1.5 years.
If an employment contract is still valid for 6 months, the income can still be sustainable if the income in the year prior to the application was sufficient. (Read more in: New income check for family reunification.) The income requirement can also be met in other situations. The most important condition is that the family member in the Netherlands can provide for the livelihood of all family members, without having to resort to social assistance from the government. A benefit from public funds, such as government social assistance benefit, is therefore not sufficient.
For the family member in the Netherlands that has reached the retirement age (according to Dutch General Retirement Law), is fully incapacitated for work or is permanently unable to meet the income requirement, there is no income requirement.
Upon arrival in the Netherlands
After family members have arrived in the Netherlands, certain obligations apply to retain the residence permit: they must live together at the same address, have sufficient income, and may not apply for social assistance benefits.
In most cases, foreign partners must (continue to) integrate in the Netherlands. Within 3 years after arrival in the Netherlands, they must complete a number of exams. Failure to pass the exams on time may be grounds for a fine or even for the withdrawal of the residence permit.
EU law vs. Dutch law
The EU right to family reunification differs from Dutch law: there is no civic integration requirement, and the income requirement is more flexible. Also, under EU law, dependent parents are counted among the family members.
Dutch nationals are also EU citizens. European law applies when Dutch citizens live with their family members in another EU Member State or have recently lived in another EU country and now want to settle in the Netherlands.
For more information about family reunification, please contact Elles Besselsen, Nikki Vreede, Lotte van Diepen or Anne Wijffelman.