Every non-EU citizen who wants to work in the Netherlands has to obtain a valid work permit. Either the employee or their prospective employer may request the permit, although it is usually the employer who makes the request. A work permit is valid only for the employer who makes the request and ceases if / when the employee leaves the job. There is no general work permit for the Netherlands.

Types of work permits in The Netherlands

The main kinds of work permit that apply to the Netherlands are:

  • GVVA or Single Permit
  • Highly skilled migrant permit

1. GVVA or Single Permit

- What is a GVVA / Single Permit?
The GVVA / Single Permit consists of a Dutch residence permit (verblijfsvergunning) and an additional document stating for which employer the foreign national is permitted to work and under which conditions. The GVVA is intended for workers and trainees from outside the EEA and Switzerland who will stay in the Netherlands for more than three months. Before a GVVA work permit application can be filed, an employer must show that efforts have taken place to recruit a suitable employee in the Netherlands and European Union. Only after these recruitment efforts have not led to a suitable candidate can an employer start looking for employees outside the EU.

- GVVA / Single Permit application process
The application for a GVVA should be submitted to the Dutch Immigration and Naturalization Department (IND), usually by the prospective employer. The relevant application documents can be downloaded from their website. Once the fee has been paid and all the necessary forms have been submitted, the IND will ask the UWV (the Dutch social security agency) to advise if the prospective employee may live and work in the Netherlands. The UWV’s assessment is based on the criteria of the Aliens Employment Act (Wav). The IND will make its decision based on the advice from the UWV. If the decision is positive and GVVA is issued, the IND will inform the employer. Once the GVVA is available, the employer will be notified by the IND that the foreign employee can pick up both documents in person. It may be that the UWV will contact either the employer or the employee during the application process to clarify some aspect of the application or position.

- Who cannot apply for a GVVA / Single Permit?
Some people who wish to work in the Netherlands cannot receive a GVVA: students who wish to work, asylum seekers, seasonal workers, employees transferred within a multinational group, employees who come for a maximum of three months and Croatian nationals. These individuals must requested a TWV work permit separately from the UWV.

- GVVA / Single Permit & Work experience in the Netherlands
The GVVA Single Permit also applies to the people coming to the Netherlands to gain work experience, either for study or work purposes, and people enrolled in the Canadian Young Workers Exchange Program (YWEP). Again, it is usually the employer (or sponsor in this case) who will start the application process.

2. Highly skilled migrant permit in the Netherlands

The highly skilled migrant scheme (kennismigrant) is designed to allow Dutch employers to bring talented foreign professionals to the Netherlands and retain them. This means that employers in the Netherlands can organise Dutch work permits quickly for highly skilled international employees, without having to prove that there are no suitable Dutch or EU candidates.

- Requirements for highly skilled migrant permit in the Netherlands
To qualify as a highly skilled migrant for work in the Netherlands, international applicants must have:

  • Skills and experience that are relatively scarce
  • A higher educational level (Bachelor minimum) although this is not required anymore
  • Some years of work experience
  • Specialization (for example in IT, engineering or science)

Only recognized organizations are able to submit applications of behalf of a highly skilled migrant. That means the organization has to be recognized by the IND as a sponsor.

- Conditions for highly skilled migrant permit in the Netherlands
In order to apply for a Dutch highly skilled migrant visa, an employment contract or an appointment decision (or a guest agreement for guest lecturers) must be in place. For an internal transfer to a Dutch-based branch of an international company, an employer’s declaration is required from the foreign employer, which should include the duration of the transfer, the type of employment and the income.

Other conditions include:

Foreign nationals from countries other than Australia, Canada, Israel, Japan, Monaco, New Zealand, Suriname, Switzerland and the United States of America must undergo a test for TB within three months after the residence permit has been issued. Partners and children of highly skilled migrants will also be allowed to work in the Netherlands.

- Income requirements for highly skilled migrants`
The applicant must also satisfy the minimum income requirements for highly skilled migrants which are (as of January 1, 2017):

Older than 30 years
€ 4.324
Younger than 30 years
€ 3.170

Note: Income is gross salary per month, excluding holiday allowance. This income requirement does not apply for scientific researchers or physicians in training to become specialists. In that case, their income must at least meet the provisions listed in the Dutch Minimum Wage Act (wml).

- Length of time for decision for highly skilled migrant permit
If the employer is a recognized organization with the IND, the permit should only take two weeks to process. If the employer is not, then they will have to first go through the registration process, which will add to the whole processing time.

You don’t need a work permit or GVVA if you have one of the following nationalities:

  • Belgium
  • Bulgaria
  • Cyprus
  • Denmark
  • Germany
  • Estonia
  • Finland
  • France
  • Greece
  • Hungary
  • Ireland
  • Iceland
  • Italy
  • Croatia
  • Latvia
  • Liechtenstein
  • Lithuania
  • Luxembourg
  • Malta
  • Norway
  • Austria
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Romania
  • Slovenia
  • Slovakia
  • Spain
  • Czech Republic
  • United Kingdom
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland
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