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Substantial cultural interest

Are foreign artists allowed to work in the Netherlands?

By Leonie Haenen and Elles Besselsen

Harry Styles recently performed a series of concerts in Amsterdam. As a British artist, he is allowed to stay in Europe for up to three months, but he is not allowed to work in the Netherlands without a work permit. His concerts fall under an exception category. But what about his crew and foreign artists who come to work in the Netherlands for a longer period of time? What options do you have as an organizer or employer if you are planning to hire or work with artists from outside the European Union?

International projects  

As an organizer of a tour with an international theater or dance company, a festival, filming for a movie or other international projects of a temporary nature that are performed in the Netherlands, it is important to find out if and on what basis the artists and crew from outside the European Union can reside and work in the Netherlands.

In principle, everyone from outside the European Union needs a work permit. Only a few exceptions apply for incidental work or work of a specific nature. It is for example possible that the artists fall under the exemption, but that this doesn’t apply to the production crew, and that they need temporary work rights. To obtain temporary work rights in the creative sector, it is in many cases necessary that you, as an organizer or employer, demonstrate that the artists and/or crew are required because of their specific knowledge and expertise and that there is no competition with the labor supply from the Netherlands and the European Union.

In addition, it is important to keep a close eye on how much time is spent in the Netherlands and – for example during a tour – also in other Schengen countries. With a visa or in the visa free period, a maximum stay of 90 days in a period of 180 days in the Schengen area is allowed. Only in exceptional cases is an extension possible, otherwise a residence permit must be applied for.

Everaert Advocaten has extensive experience in assisting large international productions in the creative sector, as well as a good network of immigration lawyers throughout Europe. We can assist you as an employer in organizing temporary projects in the Netherlands, to ensure that the artists and crew have the right to work in the Netherlands for the entire duration of the project.

Employed artists

Are you an employer and planning to hire an artist from outside the European Union as an employee? In this case, your employee must have a residence permit with work rights. One of the possibilities is a combined residence and work permit (GVVA). Separate rules apply for top positions in the fields of dance, classical music, opera, musical, theater and art.

In the Regulations implementing the Foreign Nationals Employment Act the different top positions of artists are listed, with the corresponding salary criterion. If you are for example planning to hire a first timpanist in an orchestra, and the salary meets the salary requirement set, the labor market test will not be applied when applying for a GVVA for this employee. This means that as an employer, you do not need to prove that you first looked for candidates from the Netherlands or the European Union.

Does the job not fall under one of the listed top positions, for example because it concerns a ballet pianist or choral singer? Then the labor market test does apply. However, when it concerns a position that just falls outside the list of top positions, the UWV can decide that it is allowed to deviate from the conditions of the labor market test. Because of the specific nature of the function and the qualities of the artist, it can be determined after less than five weeks that the function cannot be fulfilled on the Dutch and European labor market. Deviations from the vacancy announcement or deadline are also possible.

Substantial cultural interest

As a freelancer in the cultural sector, it is possible to apply for a residence permit as a self-employed person in the Netherlands. You must then be able to demonstrate that your presence in the Netherlands serves a substantial Dutch cultural interest. This can be done with various confirmed future contracts for important Dutch art and cultural institutions.

Everaert Lawyers hosts an annual free lecture for foreign art students and artists. Keep an eye on our website and social media for the annual announcement.

Are you an organizer of temporary projects or an employer in the cultural sector and do you have questions about the possibilities for artists from outside the European Union to work in the Netherlands or do you, as an independent artist, have questions about applying for a residence permit? Please contact Elles Besselsen for more information.

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