Hiring international talent
Employment regulations in the Netherlands have been designed to offer a number of different ways of engaging international talent. This ensures that businesses and organisations in the Netherlands can employ the best skillsets, develop world-class research and invest in highly skilled graduates. Keeping abreast of these regulations and what they mean for established businesses and start-ups is just one of the services Expat Centre Maastricht Region can facilitate.
Highly-skilled migrants – knowledge workers
A kennismigrant (highly skilled migrant), also known as a “knowledge worker” is a person who is deemed to make a contribution to the knowledge-based economy in the Netherlands and migrates to the Netherlands on an employment contract earning them sufficient long-term income. The highly skilled migrant process is the most effective way to hire an employee from outside the European Union (EU).
Only Immigratie- en Naturalisatiedienst – IND erkend referenten (recognised sponsors) can employ knowledge workers utilising the highly-skilled migrant process.
Rights and obligations of sponsors
An IND recognised sponsor has rights and obligations, such as making use of the fast-track process and declaration forms. Only those highly skilled foreign citizens may be selected who meet specific conditions for admission to and residence in the Netherlands.
Applying for recognition as a sponsor
Further details regarding conditions and application processes for IND recognised sponsors can be found at the IND website.
An onderzoeker (Scientific Researcher) is someone who works under directive 2005/71/EC or under directive 2016/801 as a:
- Paid scientific researcher;
- PhD student;
- Unpaid scientific researcher with a grant.
The Scientific Researcher must intend to conduct research at a research institution in the Netherlands. This research institution must be an IND erkend referent (recognised sponsor).
A Scientific Researcher has:
- An appropriate higher education degree. The degree gives access to a doctorate programme. The research institution determines if the degree is appropriate. The degree must have been certified by a notary or municipality (in the Netherlands or abroad). If a researcher does not have an appropriate higher education degree, the research institution must declare that it has been demonstrated that the researcher has the correct level of education.
- A research project that has been approved by the institution. The institution has assessed the purpose, duration of the research and the funds required for conducting this research.
- Have an employment contract or hosting agreement with a research institution.
- The qualifications to earn sufficient income. This income is independent and long-term. Is the researcher not being paid by the research institute? Then they must receive income from another source, for example a grant or sponsor payments, or have enough money in a bank account for the whole duration of their stay in the Netherlands.
Further details regarding conditions and application processes for Scientific Researchers can be found at the IND website.
Orientation Year residence permit for highly educated persons
Highly educated foreign citizens who have graduated abroad or in the Netherlands can obtain a verblijfsvergunning zoekjaar hoogopgeleiden (Orientation Year residence permit for highly educated persons) with a maximum term of 1 year in order to find a job as a highly skilled migrant or to start an innovative company. This scheme aims to ensure that exceptional international talent is more easily admitted to the Netherlands.
Eligible applicants can apply for this residence permit within 3 years of completing a study or research project.
It is not possible to extend the length of this 12-month residence permit; however it is possible to apply for another Orientation Year residence permit after another period of eligible study is completed.
During the 12-month period, Orientation Year permit holders are granted free access to the labour market in the Netherlands without any restrictions (no work permit required). They are allowed to accept any (temporary) job, including internships (paid or unpaid), to work as a freelancer or to start their own company.
If the residence permit for highly skilled migrant has been applied for during or directly following the period of residence with the orientation year permit a reduced salary criterion is applicable.
Their family members will also have free access to the labour market in the Netherlands during the orientation year, without restrictions.
Further details regarding conditions and application processes for the Orientation year can be found at the IND website.
A residence permit is required for trainees, company representatives or specialists in an intra-company transfer. There are special conditions for this type of employee engagement.
The employer applies for a gecombineerde vergunning voor verblijf en arbeid GVVA (a combined residence and work permit). This permit entitles the foreign citizen to stay and work in the Netherlands. The GVVA combines the verblijfsvergunning (residence permit) and the tewerkstellingswerkvergunning – TWV (work permit). The employer only has to apply for 1 permit, to 1 authority: the Immigratie- en Naturalisatiedienst – IND (Immigration and Naturalisation Service). The IND asks advice from the Uitvoeringsinstituut Werknemersverzekeringen – UWV (Employee Insurance Agency) about the labour market aspect. UWV assesses the request for advice based on the criteria of the Wet Arbeid Vreemdelingen – WAV (Foreign Citizens Employment Act). The IND takes a decision on the basis of the advice of UWV. If the decision is positive and the GVVA is issued, the IND will inform the employer accordingly.
The employer can choose to become an IND erkend referent (recognised sponsor). This is not obligatory, however recognition as sponsor has a number of advantages.
Employees, researchers or students who do not live in the Netherlands and have dealings with the Government of the Netherlands, or those residing in the Netherlands for less than 4 months need to register in the registratie niet ingezetenen – RNI (register of non-inhabitants) in order to obtain a provisional Burgerservicenummer – BSN (citizen service number).
All employees contracted by or working for an employer in the Netherlands must be registered with the municipality with no exception, including those who live in Belgium and Germany and work in the Maastricht Region.
Becoming an IND recognised sponsor
Before submitting an application for a residence permit on behalf of a kennismigrant (highly skilled migrant), onderzoeker (researcher) or top artiest (professional artist), the organisation must be an Immigratie- en Naturalisatiedienst – IND (Immigration and Naturalisation Service) erkend referent (IND recognised sponsor). After the organisation has been recognised as a sponsor, it will be listed in the Public Register of Recognised Sponsors, enabling highly skilled migrants to confirm that organisations are a recognised sponsor.
Additionally, recognition has the following advantages:
- IND aims to decide within 2 weeks on applications from recognised sponsors.
- Recognised sponsors may enclose less documentary evidence with the application for a residence permit. In many cases, the organisation’s statement for admission (a statement that the highly skilled migrant (and their family member(s)) meets all the conditions for admission and stay in the Netherlands, is sufficient.
- Recognised sponsors for labour can contact the IND directly via: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Further details regarding conditions and application processes for becoming an IND recognised sponsor can be found at the IND website.
30% Tax Facility
When a company in the Netherlands brings in a worker from abroad, the company often pays the additional cost(s) for the employee’s temporary stay in the Netherlands. The actual costs can be reimbursed, but it is also possible to use the 30% Tax Facility if the employee qualifies.
The 30% Tax Facility may apply if the employee is recruited or seconded from outside the Netherlands to work in the Netherlands. The following conditions have to be fulfilled:
- The employer is required to withhold wage taxes for the employee in the Netherlands;
- The employee has specific expertise that is not available in the employment market in the Netherlands, or only rarely;
- At least 16 months prior to the employee’s first day of work in the Netherlands, the employee has lived at a distance of over 150 kilometres from the Dutch border, calculated in a straight line.
In order to apply for the 30% Tax Facility for incoming employees, the applicant must have permission from the Belastingdienst (Tax and Customs Administration). The request has to be submitted jointly, by employer and employee, to the Belastingdienst, which will make a decision. If in disagreement with the decision, it is possible to file an objection.
If the request has been made within 4 months of the start of the employee's employment, the facility can apply from the first day of employment. If the request was made later, the facility will be applied from the first day of the month following the month in which the request was made. The commencement date of the facility will be specified in the ruling from the Belastingdienst.
Change of withholding agent (employer) for employees from outside the Netherlands
When the employee changes jobs, the 30% Tax Facility may be continued as usual. The period between the old and the new employment must not exceed 3 months. A new joint request together with the new employer must be submitted and the new employer must prove that the employee still fulfils the condition of possessing scarce and specific expertise.
Partial Non-Resident Taxpayer status
Employees making use of the 30% Tax Facility can opt to be treated as a partiële buitenlandse belastingplicht (partial non-resident tax payer) even if they are a resident taxpayer. This means that the employee will not be taxed on income from investment and savings outside the Netherlands.
In addition to the 30% Tax Facility, school fees for an international school (or for the international department of a school in the Netherlands), may be reimbursed free of tax.
This is permitted if:
- The curriculum at the school (department) is based on a international system;
- The school (department) is in principle only open to children of seconded employees.
If the total extraterritorial expenses exceed the allowance paid under the 30% Tax Facility, it is possible to have the actual expenses reimbursed. In this case however, evidence for these extraterritorial expenses will have to be provided.
Go to our Education & Careers section for a list of international schools in the Maastricht Region.
Some employees arriving in the Netherlands may need to undergo a medical test for tuberculosis (TB) to obtain their residence permit. If it is required the test should be carried out by the relevant Gemeentelijke of Gemeenschappelijke Gezondheidsdienst – GGD (Municipal Public Health Service) within 3 months of arrival in the Netherlands. Those required to undergo testing and haven’t done so within the specified time period will be notified by the Immigratie- en Naturalisatiedienst – IND (Immigration and Naturalisation Service).
Those exempt from testing meet the following criteria:
- The applicant is a citizen of one of the countries listed in the appendix ‘Exemption from the obligation to undergo a tuberculosis (TB) test’;
- The applicant has a valid residence permit for the Netherlands;
- The applicant was born in the Netherlands and have always lived here;
- The applicant underwent a TB test in the Netherlands less than 6 months ago;
- The applicant holds a European Union (EU) residence permit for long-term residency issued by another EU Member State or is a family member and was already admitted to another EU Member State as a family member of the long-term resident.
Adults are tested initially by X-ray. The conditions for tuberculosis testing for children are different to those for adults:
Children under 6 years
Compulsory when skin test is not available.
Children 6-12 years
Children 12 up to 18 years
Employers often assist employees in the tuberculosis testing process, their first point of contact in the Maastricht Region is the GGD in Roermond.
Certificate of Good Conduct for Staff
In the Netherlands a Verklaring Omtrent het Gedrag – VOG (Certificate of Good Conduct) is sometimes required before starting a new job. It is a document by which the Minister voor Rechtsbescherming (Minister for Legal Protection) declares that the applicant did not commit any criminal offences that are relevant to the performance of their duties. The VOG is issued by Justis (Ministry of Justice and Security’s screening authority).
The applicant has a Burgerservicenummer – BSN (citizen service number):
- If the employer is registered with eherkenning (standardised login system which enables organisations to make their services accessible securely online to companies, civil servants and consumers) the employer can log in and start the application process online. The Justis website explains (in Dutch) how the employer can apply for a VOG online.
- If the employer is not registered with eherkenning they can download the application form from the Justis website and complete their part of the form, the applicant then completes their part of the form and returns it to the employer who sends it to the municipality.
The applicant does not have a BSN:
- Applicants who are registered as registratie niet ingezetenen – RNI (registration as a non-inhabitant), for example working temporarily in the Netherlands or currently living abroad, must apply directly to Justis. The completed application form should be downloaded from the Integrity and Screening Agency website and sent via email.
Certificate of Good Conduct for Legal Entities
Justis can also issue a Verklaring Omtrent het Gedrag voor Rechtspersonen – VOG-RP (certificate of good conduct for legal entities) for businesses, foundations and associations). This might be required for companies that want to enter into a contract or join an industry association.
The application procedure for a VOG-RP is different from the application procedure for the VOG for natural persons.
Engaging volunteer staff
When engaging the services of volunteers in organisations the following considerations must be made.
Citizens of non-European Union (EU) / European Economic Area (EEA) Member States require a valid work permit to engage in volunteer activities.
In the Netherlands a Verklaring Omtrent het Gedrag – VOG (Certificate of Good Conduct) is sometimes required before starting volunteer work. It is a document by which the Minister voor Rechtsbescherming (Minister for Legal Protection) declares that the applicant did not commit any criminal offences that are relevant to the performance of their duties.
Any payment for volunteer work is tax free up to a maximum of €170 per month or €1,700 per year. In order to be able to take advantage of this tax break (on the €1,700), the organisation must have an Algemeen nut beogende instellingen – ANBI (Public Benefit Organisation) status and must provide the volunteer with the required documentation for tax purposes.