Are you a cyclist enthusiast? Maybe you’re passionate about unique urban planning that spans an entire country? Or perhaps, you’ve simply grown weary and dissatisfied with your current working conditions and crave a more desirable work-life balance? If any of the categories mentioned resonate strongly with you, the option to relocate to the Netherlands under one of their available work visas is always open.
The Netherlands is home to the world’s most meticulous and well-planned cycling system. The Dutch have masterfully designed a vast and complex network of cycling paths. They have made it extremely safe whereby the cycling paths are smoothly made, clearly marked and comfortably wide enough to allow for cycling in both lanes and overtaking (a fantastic solution for you speed-demons, albeit on a slower, less intense scale, of course). In fact, not only did the Dutch create an awe-inspiring cycling system, their urban planning is the envy of countless countries worldwide. Beyond the artful mix of canals and infrastructure, the beautiful fields of tulip and the stunning landscape they have achieved, their public transport is well-connected to the extent that it is often faster than driving your cars.
The Netherlands was ranked the world’s 6th happiest country according to the 2020 World Happiness Report. The report assessed a variety of factors that included life expectancy, social support, freedom and average income in coming to its conclusion. Besides, the 2020 OECD Better Life Index named the Netherlands as the 3rd best country in managing the work-life balance of its people, with 0.4% of employees working very long hours, the lowest in the entire index.
I’m sure you’re googling how to get to the Netherlands by now. Calm down, take a deep breath, and keep reading. That’s the entire point of this article after all. Let’s get down to it, shall we?
EU nationals, constituents of the European Economic Area, and the Swiss will not require a work or residence permit to begin employment and to reside in the Netherlands. You merely have to furnish a valid passport or identification card.
Non-EU nationals desiring to find work in the Netherlands have to first obtain a valid work permit before they can start work and be smitten by Holland’s charm. While both you or your employer may request a work permit, it is customarily the employer’s responsibility. The work permit applied is only valid for that particular employer and will cease immediately upon your leaving of the job.
Foreign nationals are required to apply for a single permit if they intend to work in the Netherlands for more than 3 months. Your prospective employer will usually apply to the Immigration and Naturalisation Services for your permit. After submitting the necessary paperwork and fees, available here, the Immigration and Naturalisation Services will consult the Dutch social security agency on whether the prospective employee is allowed to work and reside in the Netherlands.
In general, work permit applications under this category are subjected to a labour market test. In other words, the salary offered to you by your employer must be deemed competitive where your employer must make the necessary disclosure to the Immigration and Naturalisation Services. They will have to further show that they have attempted and failed in recruiting an EU, EEA or Swiss national to take up the job posting.
The typical duration for these work permits runs for 1 year. However, if you are coming to the Netherlands due to an intra-company transfer work permit, the work permit can run for a maximum of 3 years. If you belong to one of the categories below, your employer will have to obtain another separate work permit for you:
- Seasonal workers;
- Intra-company transferees;
- Service providers (occasionally)
Where the Dutch social security agency has decided that the prospective employee’s application is permitted, the Immigration and Naturalisation Services will inform your employer, who will then in turn inform you. You will then be allowed to collect the documents that will allow you to enter and work in the Netherlands.
Highly skilled migrant scheme
This scheme permits Dutch employers to recruit promising foreign professionals into the Netherlands with a view on retaining them. Under the ambit of this scheme, Dutch employers recognised (listed here) by the Immigrations and Naturalisation Services as a sponsor can hastily apply to procure work permits to recruit foreign talents without needing to first prove that they have exhausted the local or EU pool. The processing time is generally estimated at 2 weeks. This enables Dutch employers to snag the best talents in the world before another country swoops in (Ah, sweet old competition).
Under this visa, your dependants will also be allowed to work in the Netherlands. The validity of your visa will correspond with your employment contract, running up to a maximum of 5 years. Should you become unemployed, you are given 3 months to search for another job as a highly skilled migrant.
You may qualify as a highly skilled migrant if you satisfy these general categories:
- Possessing skills and/or experience that is relatively limited;
- Possessing a few years of work experience;
- A minimum of a Bachelor’s;
- Possessing a specialisation (i.e. Engineering, Computer Science)
You have to show that you stand out from the pack. Having been established as the creme de la creme (or, you know, meeting the requirements), you will have to obtain a valid employment contract from your employer before being eligible for the highly skilled migrant work visa.
You will also have to meet the following conditions in your application:
- Possessing a valid passport or appropriate identification document;
- Possessing health insurance in the Netherlands;
- Not possessing a history of having stayed in the Netherlands illegally prior;
- Provided false or withheld information on your previous applications.
To prevent Dutch employers from abusing this visa’s application, the Dutch authorities have set a minimum income requirement for highly skilled migrants, corresponding with their age group.
- Applicants older 30 – €4,752
- Applicants under 30 – €3,484
- Newly-undergraduates – €2,497
Orientation year (Zoekjaar) for Netherland graduates
The orientation year permit is designed to attract recent graduates or scientific researchers from non-EU countries to work and reside in the Netherlands for up to 12 months. For the said duration, accepted applicants can find work in the Netherlands without first having to secure an extra work permit, making their search that much easier as Dutch employers do not have to go through the added trouble to apply for a work permit for them.
To qualify under this category, applicants have to graduate from a Top-200 university by one of the accepted rankings – i.e. QS World University Rankings. Upon securing employment under the orientation year permit, applicants can seek to convert the permit into a residence permit for the highly skilled migrant work visa.
You are eligible if you meet one of the following categories:
- You must not have acquired a residence permit to look for work after study previously;
- Within the past 3 years you have either:
- Completed an accredited bachelor’s or master’s programme at a Dutch institution; or
- Completed a post-master’s programme of which the minimum is an academic year (at least 10 months); or
- Completed a study in the Netherlands in per the Cultural Policy Act; or
- Completed a study in the Netherlands per the development cooperation policy of the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs; or
- Obtained a master’s degree as per the Erasmus Mundus Masters Course; or
- Undergone scientific research previously under a residence permit in the Netherlands for scientific research;
- Completed a master’s, post-master’s programme or achieved a PHD at a designated international educational institution abroad and furthermore –
- Obtained a minimum IELTS score of 6.0; or
- Obtained a comparable minimum score in an alternative recognised English language test; or
- Possess a diploma, certificate or document under Article 2.3 of the Civic Integration Decree;
- Completed a master’s post-master’s or doctoral programme in English or Dutch.
The list granting eligibility to interested applicants of the orientation year permit runs long. In other words, there is a higher chance you may qualify. You can commence your application here:
Blue Card: Europe’s “Green Card” for Highly Skilled Workers
You may be eligible for the Blue Card visa if you can be considered a highly skilled worker. This work visa is designed to attract highly-skilled non-EU nationals to reside and work in the Netherlands, provided they can obtain a binding job offer of at least 1 year prior and satisfying the minimum salary requirements of €5,272/month.
You may be considered a highly-skilled worker if you meet the following criteria:
- A higher education diploma from a program with a minimum duration of 3 years;
- Your higher education certificate has been evaluated by Nuffic;
- You can prove that you satisfy the standards required to practice your profession;
- The branch you are transferring to has not been fined within the last 5 years for falling foul of Article 2 of the Aliens Employment Act.
Like the highly skilled migrant scheme, the duration of your visa corresponds to the length of your employment contract. However, if the contract has not specified duration and runs indefinitely, the EU blue card runs for a maximum of 4 years. The visa’s duration can be extended subject to meeting the requirements.
What are you waiting for? You shouldn’t. Leave the waiting to the Netherlands. Get cracking on your application.