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Highly Skilled Migrants

Companies can hire Highly Skilled Migrants with a non-EU nationality (third country nationals) in a relatively quick and easy manner under the Highly Skilled Migrant program (HSMP).

The 2 main requirements are:

  • registration as a recognized sponsor
  • a minimum salary pay
Scientific researchers

To scientific researchers who want to conduct research at a research institute in the Netherlands, other conditions apply than to regular Highly Skilled Migrants.

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Turkish nationals

Turkish nationals and their family members do not need a recognized sponsor when they want to work as a Highly Skilled Migrant. They may submit their application independently. However, an application filed by a recognized sponsor is processed faster.

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Recognized sponsorship

A company that wishes to hire Highly Skilled Migrants with a non-EU nationality – third country nationals – must be registered as a recognized sponsor with the IND (Immigration and Naturalization Service).

Recognition as a sponsor is indefinite; it can however be revoked if the recognized sponsor has not applied for a Highly Skilled Migrant permit in 3 consecutive years and does not sponsor highly skilled workers any longer.

Government fees for sponsor recognition applications are revised every 1st of January. The current cost can be found on this page on the IND website. 

Can our company become a recognized sponsor?

First, the continuity and solvency of the company must be sufficiently guaranteed. The IND may seek advice from the RVO (Netherlands Enterprise Agency), which uses the point-based system to assess continuity and solvency.

Companies established or active less than 1.5 year must provide a business plan to demonstrate their continuity and solvability. 


Companies established or active less than 1.5 year are exempted from the above requirement if:

  • the applicant is a subsidiary in full ownership of a company that is recognized as a sponsor. If the parent company has been exempted from the requirement to submit a business plan, a declaration of good payment behavior of the parent company suffices
  • the applicant comes from a merger, and the merged parties are recognized sponsors
  • the applicant was taken over by a company registered as a recognized sponsor
  • the corporate structure of a company registered as a recognized sponsor has changed, and by a notary act it can be demonstrated that the commercial activities have not expanded and the management of the new company has remained the same.

If the IND or the RVO is uncertain about the continuity and solvability of the applying company, additional proof may be requested: a business plan, verified financial statements, and exploitation- and liquidity forecasts for the coming 2 years.

Such additional proof may also be requested from a company that has been established and active for more than 1.5 year, but less than 3 years, and from companies established and active for 3 years or more. Here, the IND retains full discretion.

Apart from transparency on these points, the company must be registered with the Chamber of Commerce in the Netherlands and may not still be in a state of bankruptcy. Further, the company, the directors and other natural persons/legal entities involved should have an undisputed trustworthy reputation.

Salary criteria

The minimum salary for Highly Skilled Migrants is higher than the general legal minimum wage in the Netherlands. Moreover, the minimum salary for Highly Skilled Migrants is differentiated by age. 

Salary criteria for Highly Skilled Migrants are revised annually on the 1st of January. The current salary amounts are listed here. An 8% holiday allowance is a mandatory part of the remuneration for all employment in the Netherlands.

Validity of the permit

A residence permit for a Highly Skilled Migrant is valid for the duration of the employment contract, with a maximum validity of 5 years. The permit can be renewed as needed.

The Highly Skilled Migrant can, apart from work for the recognized sponsor, also work as an independent entrepreneur without applying for a separate permit.

Their family members can apply for a residence permit, linked to the residency of the Highly Skilled Migrant. They will be free on the labor market: they do not need a separate work permit to work in the Netherlands.

Recent graduates

Foreign nationals who graduated from a Dutch university or from a top university abroad are entitled to an orientation year in the 3 years following their graduation. If they are employed as a Highly Skilled Migrant within this period, a lower salary amount applies, regardless of their age. This salary amount continues to apply, even when changing employer or when turning 30 years of age. Current salary criteria can be found on this page.

Application fees

The government filing fees for an application for a Highly Skilled Migrant permit are revised every 1st of January. An overview of IND fees can be found here.

Changing jobs

Highly skilled migrants are entitled to a 3-month search period to look for a new job as a Highly Skilled Migrant when they become unemployed, regardless of who terminated the employment: the employer or the employee.

The 3-month search period commences on the day the employment agreement is terminated.

The IND will revoke the permit when the Highly Skilled Migrant has not succeeded finding a new job (with a recognized sponsor) at the end of the 3-month search period.

Other application categories

The EU Blue Card

The EU Blue Card is a combined residence and work permit for highly qualified expats who are not EU-citizens (they are third country nationals). The permit stems from a European Directive (Directive (EU) 2021/1883).

For a Blue Cardholder who has completed 12 months of work in the Netherlands it is relatively easy to obtain a Blue Card in another EU member state. The requirements for a Blue Card are tougher than for a Highly Skilled Migrant permit.

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Intra company transfer (ICT)

Multinational companies regularly transfer highly qualified personnel and trainees to a subsidiary company in the Netherlands for a short-term assignment. In many cases, transfers involving non-EU national employees are administered under the Highly Skilled Migrant program.

As of 29 November 2016, intra-company transfers (ICT’s) of non-EU national employees remaining in an employment relationship with the group company outside the European Union, fall within the scope of the of the EU ICT Directive and are administered by the IND under the EU/ICT program.

The Highly Skilled Migrant program remains available for transferees on a Dutch contract only.

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For more information, please contact us.

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