The Netherlands is known for its progressive policies. The country is the first to make working from home a legal right. A leader in IT and telecommunications, the Netherlands stands out as one of the most dynamic economies in the European Union. With the 17th largest economy in the world, the country is home to over 17 million people.
The Netherlands has a lot to offer as a place to live, which is why foreigners seek employment and navigate the country's work visa & permits process. Ranked as the sixth happiest place to live by the United Nations, the country has a strong social security system that takes care of its residents and citizens. With biking being the main route of travel in the country, transportation and safety are also among the country’s top highlights.
As a foreigner, the work visa process can be a bit lengthy. Applicants must prove that they have a purpose and the necessary job qualifications to apply and get approved for a work visa. Anyone who is not an EU citizen will have to go through the visa application process in order to live and work in the Netherlands.
This article offers foreigners information about everything they need to know about the work visa process in the Netherlands, as well as gives employers a background in what they need to complete to hire foreigners legally within the country.
A Dutch work visa allows foreigners to live and work within the country legally. Work visas are also known as Dutch residence permits. Once you are approved for a work visa, this means that you are approved for a residence permit.
Without a work visa, a company cannot legally employ non-EU citizens. If you are an EU citizen, EEA resident, or are from Switzerland, you can live and work in the Netherlands without going through the lengthy process of approval for a work visa. You will just need to show your passport or ID card from your EU country of origin. Everyone outside of the European Union or an EEA country will need a visa.
A Dutch work permit demonstrates that you have a job offer pending in the Netherlands. Like the Dutch visa or residence permit, the Dutch work permit is required for foreigners looking to work and live within the country legally. If you want to work in the Netherlands, you must submit your application and be approved for your Dutch work permit before you travel to the country for your employment.
Employment needs and country of origin will determine which visa foreigners should apply for and what documents they need to submit for approval. An application from the US will look different than one from India, for instance.
Almost all Dutch work visas will need a pending job offer with proof of an employment contract in order to be approved. Work visas in the Netherlands are good for one year and must be renewed each year with proof of employment for the employee to continue to live and work in the country legally.
There are a few different types of Dutch visas that foreigners outside of the EU can apply for. They will each have their own requirements for approval. The Dutch visa that you apply for will depend on the type of work you want and if you qualify as someone who is considered highly educated or a highly skilled migrant.
Some of the most common Dutch visas for expats are:
GVVA or single permit: For those who have a combination of an IWV work permit and a residence permit. It includes a residence permit and a document stating that the applicant is a foreign national with permission to work in the Netherlands.
Highly skilled migrant scheme: This is to bring talented professionals from other countries to the Netherlands. This helps them be able to train for a profession without having to prove that the employer could find someone else to fill the position in the Netherlands or the EU.
Orientation year permit for graduates: Permit for expats with masters or doctoral degrees at one of the top 150 universities worldwide.
Search year permit for Netherlands graduate: For students who graduated from a Dutch university. This is a residence permit that allows them to stay for up to 1 year while looking for a highly skilled job.
Entrepreneur permit: For foreign nationals who want to come to the Netherlands and start a business. Must meet certain professional and business requirements.
EU Blue Card: For third-country nationals who want to apply for a residence permit for highly qualified employment. Required a valid work contract or a job offer of 1 year with minimum salary requirements.
To obtain a Dutch work visa, expats need to have a work permit and residence permit, or have the GVVA option that covers both in order to enter the Netherlands.
The Immigration and Naturalization Services in the Netherlands is part of the Dutch government and processes all applicants for work visas. All documents need to be in either: Dutch, French, German or English.
Other required documents:
Proof that everything in application is truthful
Medical tests for tuberculosis
Clear criminal record
Employer must be recognized by Netherland’s government officials
Sufficient income and proof
Once you have all of your documents in order you must follow these steps:
Schedule an appointment and bring all necessary documentation
Submit application in-person at a Dutch mission, embassy, or consulate in country of residence
Get approved. Once approved, a Dutch mission will attach a visa sticker to your passport
You will need to obtain all of the stated documents to meet the requirements to be considered for a Dutch visa. All visa applications must be approved before entering the country for longer stretches of time, so schedule your appointment with ample time for approval before your job starts.
Within 5 days of arrival, you will need to make an appointment at a local office to receive a Dutch Citizens service number. Without this number, you will be living and working illegally within the country.
Employees will almost always need to have a pending job offer to apply for a work permit. Employers will also need to provide their employees with an employment contract and job descriptions before they begin their permit application. Employers need to begin the visa application for their employees before having them submit the rest of their documentation for approval.
The Dutch visa application process is tedious and challenging. You will need to figure out who is allowed to work within the country. This is why using a global EOR service like Via, or another local expert can help alleviate any stress or confusion during the process.
Companies of all sizes want to hire employees in the Netherlands, but don’t know how to navigate the visa process. Via makes hiring Dutch talent and building your global team seamless. With our easy-to-use platform, Via helps you manage local HR processes for direct employment such as work visas & permits, benefits, global payroll, background checks, and more. Our team of local labor lawyers and on-the-ground experts ensure that your company remains compliant while expanding abroad. As your employer-or-record/entity abroad, Via assumes full responsibility for employment liability, so that you can focus on what matters: recruiting and managing your team.
With Via’s transparent pricing, you can pay full-time employees or contractors across borders with no hidden set-up fees, no foreign exchange or transaction fees, and no minimums–start with 1 employee and scale up at your own pace.