Visas & Permits

In the Netherlands a visum (visa) and a verblijfsvergunning (residence permit) is issued by the Immigratie- en Naturalisatiedienst – IND (Immigration and Naturalisation Service).


A visum (visa) grants the holder (and their family) leave to enter, return, or stay for a specified period of time in a country.

The Netherlands is part of the Schengen Area. The Schengen Area is a group of countries with open border controls. Citizens of the countries within the Schengen Area are able to travel freely to other Schengen Area countries for a maximum of 90 days within a 180-day period. This unrestricted travel is allowed subject to the condition that the passport holder has a valid passport that does not expire within the first 6 months of stay.

Citizens of the countries that don’t need a visa to enter the Schengen Area are not allowed to reside in the travelling destination for the time desired without any other legal permission.

The number of days permitted to stay in any of the Schengen Area countries doesn’t exceed 90 days or 3 months every half a year needless of the travel reasons. The fact that you are able to obtain a Schengen visa to enter and reside for a certain amount of time in a Schengen Area doesn’t apply to working or studying in that country.

There are further conditions for those who are required to apply for a Schengen Area Visa.

There are several types of visa available for entry into the Netherlands. Applying for a visa usually takes place at the embassy or consulate of the Netherlands in the country of residence, prior to departure. More information about visas can be found at the Immigratie- en Naturalisatiedienst – IND (Immigration and Naturalisation) website.

Residence permit

A verblijfsvergunning (residence permit) allows a foreign citizen to reside in the Netherlands for a fixed or indefinite length of time. It does not necessarily allow the holder to work, nor allow them access to public funds.

There are different types of residence permit for the Netherlands, these are based on the verblijfsdoel (reason for stay). Examples of reasons for stay include:

  • joining a spouse/partner when they go to work in the Netherlands;
  • studying at an educational institution in the Netherlands;
  • starting a business in the Netherlands.

Not all foreign citizens require a residence permit to reside.

European Union / European Economic Area (EU/EEA) citizens have the right to free movement within the EU, so may come to live in the Netherlands. Non-EU/EEA citizens who wish to stay in the Netherlands for longer than 3 months require a residence permit. The Immigratie- en Naturalisatiedienst – IND (Immigration and Naturalisation Service) determines who may be granted a residence permit.

Non-EU/EEA citizens moving to the Netherlands usually apply for a gecombineerde vergunning voor verblijf en arbeid – GVVA (a combined residence and work permit). To be eligible for a GVVA there must already be a job offer in place, and the employer will help with the procedure.

Expat Centre Maastricht Region has a dedicated section for Companies on this website. For more detailed queries a one-on-one appointment can be made with one of our expert consultants.

The IND website provides information about the various residence permits available, and the forms needed to apply can also be downloaded there. Note that some applicants are required to have completed the inburgering (civic integration) process before they are eligible to apply for a residence permit. The application fee will NOT be returned if the application is refused – the fee relates to the processing charge: it is not for the document itself.

The most important residence purposes for expats are related to work. Further information about the various work and residence permits available and how this may impact family or study can be found at the IND website.

Work permit (tewerkstellingsvergunning – TWV)

Work permit applications for expats already in the Netherlands or those who find themselves in cross-border working situations are usually made by the potential employer. These applications are made to the Uitvoeringsinstituut Werknemersverzekeringen – UWV (Employee Insurance Agency) and are free of charge.

Non-EU/EEA students studying in the Netherlands may work for up to 16 hours a week, but require a tewerkstellingswerkvergunning TWV – (work permit) as a werkstudent (working student). This is applied for by the employer. It is usually issued for a period of 1 year without question as long as the wages offered and other conditions conform to legal requirements.

For more information regarding students and studying in the Netherlands please go to our Education & Careers section.

The forms to apply for a work permit and for a combined work and residence permit (GVVA) can be found on the UWV website (in Dutch).

The IND website has guidance on renewing or replacing a work and residence permits.

Orientation Year residence permit for highly educated persons

Highly educated foreign citizens who have graduated abroad or in the Netherlands may be able to 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. The Immigratie- en Naturalisatiedienst – IND website sets out the criteria for eligibility for this permit.

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 Dutch labour market 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.

Their family members will also have free access to the labour market in the Netherlands during the orientation year, without restrictions.

The criteria for the Orientation Year permit differ to those for the highly skilled migrant permit (e.g. salary expectations) making this type of residence permit more accessible to highly educated foreign citizens.

IND services for foreign citizens who want to work, live or study in Zuid-Limburg

Expat Centre Maastricht Region, Gemeente Maastricht and the Immigratie- en Naturalisatiedienst – IND (Immigration and Naturalisation Service) have initiated a pilot from January 2020 to provide fast tracked registration procedures and immigration service provisions in the region. 

The IND is present at Maastricht International Centre, every Tuesday, Thursday and Friday for the specific purposes of issuing residence permit cards, collecting biometric information, issuing residence endorsements stickers or return visas. Visits to the IND desk in Maastricht are by appointment only

When a residence permit is ready for collection in Maastricht a letter will be sent by the IND. This letter is needed when collecting the residence permit.

For other products, for general information or to make an appointment at one of the other IND offices in the Netherlands, the IND can be contacted on: 088 0430 430 from Monday-Friday between 09:00-17:00.