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Working in the Netherlands


If a non-EU person (third country national) wants to work in the Netherlands, they can do so as a Highly Skilled Migrant, with an EU Blue card or with a combined permit for stay and work (GVVA). If it concerns an intra company transferee, the EU ICT Directive may be applicable. Lastly, there are special regulations for posting staff within the EU (cross-border service provision).

Highly Skilled Migrant

The Highly Skilled Migrant (HSM) program is an uncomplicated, fast track procedure for hiring highly skilled non-EU staff. Your company in the Netherlands must register with the IND (Immigration and Naturalization Service) as a recognized sponsor of HSM staff. The agreed salary must meet the HSM salary threshold. The HSM program is by far the most popular option for companies that wish to hire international staff on a regular basis.

To scientific researchers, other conditions apply.

Read more on our page: Highly Skilled Migrants.

European Blue Card

The European Blue Card program facilitates employment migration of highly skilled international staff, but the conditions are stricter, and an academic degree is a prerequisite. An EU Blue Card holder can, however, work more easily in other EU member states. Moreover, the employing company does not need to be a recognized sponsor with the IND (Immigration and Naturalization Service).

Read more on our page: EU Blue Card.

Intra-company transfer

Multinational group companies with a subsidiary in the Netherlands may transfer staff to this Dutch branch. European and national ICT programs are in place, the Highly Skilled Migrant program can also be an option for intra-company transferees. It depends on the nature of the transfer, which program is most suitable. In some cases, there is only one option.

See the matrix below for a quick comparison.

We go into more detail on our page: Intra-company transfer (ICT).

[continues below matrix]

Matrix comparing Highly Skilled Migrant program, EU Blue Card, EU ICT and national ICT:

highly skilled
blue card programICT EUICT national
positionmanager, specialistmanager, specialistmanager, specialist, or trainee as defined in Directive 2014/66manager, specialist
salary thresholdsee current 
amounts here
see current 
amounts here
see current 
amounts here
see current 
amounts here
salary competitive with labor market?yesfixed in salary thresholdyesyes
processing time2 weeks for recognized sponsor2 weeks for recognized sponsor, max. 90 days for non-recognized sponsor2 weeks for recognized sponsor, max. 90 days for non-recognized sponsor3-5 weeks work permit/ 90 days residence permit
posting or local contract?locallocalposted assignee remains employed by foreign 
both possible, as long as assignment is temporary
awaiting decision abroad?only if visa requiredonly if visa requiredonly if visa requiredonly if visa required
educationcollege-academicalcollege-academical of at least 3 yearsfor trainee: master degreecollege-academical
may family members work?yesyesyeswork permit (not tested) required
validityduration of contract; max 5 yearsduration of contract; minimum 1, max 4 yearsduration of assignment; max 3 yearsduration of assignment; max 3 years
extension possible?
yes, unlimited

yes, unlimited
no; 6 months cooling-off period after 3 years of EU ICT labor*yes, as long as assignment remains temporary
permanent residency possible?yesyesyes, but only based on national policyno
mobility in EU?noyes, after 18 monthsyesno
* There are options to remain in the Netherlands by changing immigration category
Cross-border service provision

Employers within the EU can temporarily employ their non-EU personnel in the Netherlands without first applying for a work permit. This is also referred to as cross-border service provision or posting of staff within the EU. This exemption of the work permit requirement is subject to specific conditions.

Read more on our page: Cross-border service provision.

Work permit (GVVA/TWV)

If the Highly Skilled Migrant program and EU Blue card program are not an option, an employer can sometimes apply for a combined permit for stay and work (GVVA). This is the case with certain professions, such as employees in the creative industry, chefs in Asian catering and sportspeople. In some cases, only a work permit is required.

Read more on our page: Work permit (GVVA/TWV).

Notification Posted Workers

Employers and self-employed from other EU Member States who are posting a worker in the Netherlands must notify this in advance via the online portal or risk a penalty of up to €4,500 per posted worker. Read more in our article Posted Workers in the EU.

Creative Industries

Do you intend to work in the creative industries in the Netherlands and do you have a non-EU nationality? For work in paid employment, a combined permit for work and stay (GVVA) is required. Creative freelancers can apply for a residence permit as entrepreneur. Read more on our page Creative industries.

To American, Japanese and Turkish citizens and their family members other conditions may apply. Read more on our page Treaties.

Our services

Everaert Advocaten has more than 30 years of experience in assisting Dutch and international companies in the Netherlands and abroad. Our lawyers are seasoned professionals in the field of labor migration to the Netherlands and Europe.

We can help to find your best options, which application types are best suited to your needs and advise on the compliancy issues involved. When things have gone awry, you can also call in our support.

For more information or advice on any of the above, please contact us.

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