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Working in the Netherlands for an NGO

By Sofia Helbing

Valentina holds the Moldovan nationality and is currently finishing her studies in international relations in Moldova. Aside from her studies, she works for an NGO in Moldova. After graduating, she would like to work for an international NGO. She contacts various NGOs in different European countries. Among them is an international NGO based in the Netherlands. The NGO would like to employ Valentina in the Netherlands as they could use her expertise, given that she already has experience working for a similar NGO in Moldova. Because of her Moldovan nationality, Valentina knows she needs a residence permit to be able to work and reside in the Netherlands. She decides to contact a Dutch immigration lawyer.

The Dutch immigration lawyer tells her there is an option to obtain a residence permit in the Netherlands as key personnel of a non-profit organisation or any other non-governmental organisation (NGO). ‘’Key personnel’’ means she must be a manager or specialist in the organisation.

The NGO can file a residence permit application for Valentina, as key personnel of the NGO. In the application, the NGO must demonstrate that it is internationally oriented, and that it has more than 50 fulltime employees worldwide. Furthermore, the NGO must show that Valentina – in her position as manager or specialist – is of direct importance to the NGO due to the organisation’s international activities. To be eligible, Valentina’s work for the NGO must at least be on HBO-level. In the Netherlands, an HBO degree is a degree from a university of applied sciences. Furthermore, Valentina’s salary must be in line with market levels. This means that the terms of employment, employment relations or working conditions are not below the level required by law or as customary in the relevant industry. If the salary is in line with the applicable collective labour agreement, it will in principle be in line with market levels. The lawyer informs her that the same is assumed if the salary is in line with the salary thresholds for highly skilled migrants.

Valentina has now obtained her university degree. The NGO in the Netherlands has offered her a position as manager with a two-year employment contract. The other conditions for a residence permit as key personnel of an NGO are met as well. On behalf of Valentina, the NGO submits the application with the Dutch Immigration Service (IND). The statutory decision time for the application is 90 days. Due to Valentina’s Moldovan nationality, she must await the outcome of the application procedure in Moldova. If the application gets approved, she must collect an entry clearance visa (mvv) at the Dutch embassy in Bucharest, Romania. Valentina can then travel to the Netherlands and collect her residence permit.

For more information about residence permits for key personnel of an NGO, please contact us.

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