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Highly Skilled Migrant Worker Visa for Developers in the Netherlands

14 March 2022 , by Pierpaolo Gobbi

We're currently experiencing the most heated tech hiring market in history. Demand for software developers is at an unprecedented high across the world. Companies had to start looking beyond their own country’s borders to hire the best tech talent – not only to work with them remotely, but also to have them join their local offices. One of the major European hubs for software developers is Amsterdam.

If you’re looking to relocate to take up a new job with a Dutch company, you will need a specific visa to be able to live and work in the country. Getting this permit requires a combined effort from you and your future employer. To help streamline the process from both sides, we’ve created checklists for both developers and companies.


Applying for the right visa/permit

The Immigration and Naturalisation Service issues various residence visas/permits for working in paid employment in the Netherlands:

  1. Intra-corporate transferee (ICT) permits are for any employees being transferred within the company they are already working for.
  2. Cross-border service provider visas are for general European Economic Area, European Union and Swiss-based employees to offer assistance to Dutch companies on a short-term basis.
  3. European blue card permits are for highly skilled employees based within the EU to work in The Netherlands.
  4. A residence permit for essential start-up personnel is issued to high-level employees specifically appointed with the intention to help the business grow.
  5. Highly skilled migrant worker visas are for non-EU employees working in high-level positions, also including but not exclusive to paid scientists, doctors in training and guest lecturers.
  6. Residence permits for researchers are specifically for unpaid researchers or those that receive grants.
  7. The work experience as a trainee or apprentice visa is issued to students about to do an internship as part of an EU action programme.
  8. A permit for other work in paid employment covers eleven different visa subtypes based on the nature of the work, ranging from spiritual counsellors through to mass media correspondents and more.

As a software developer, you’re eligible for a residence permit, also known as the highly skilled migrant visa. Depending on your citizenship, you may need to apply for a provisional residence permit (mvv) to enter the country too.

Nationalities that are exempt from doing so include Australia, Canada, Japan, Monaco, New Zealand, Vatican City, the UK, USA, South Korea, Switzerland and the other countries in the EEA and EU.

Checklist for software developers for the Dutch Highly Skilled Migrant Visa

As a developer, you are eligible for the fast-track highly skilled migrants programme. To qualify as a highly skilled migrant, you must earn over a certain level of gross income per month and your employer must also be an IND recognised sponsor. For those under 30 years old, the minimum salary for qualification is €3,672; for those older than 30, it’s €5,008.

If you’re a developer about to accept a job offer to work in the Netherlands, check that:

  • You meet the required salary amounts we’ve mentioned. Your earnings should include an 8% holiday allowance too.
  • That the company is a recognised sponsor. This is a government requirement in order for them to submit the visa on your behalf. If the employer is not registered with the IND, they still have the option to hire you through a third party that does, but this is quite rare.

Also have the following in place:

  • A valid passport. This is essential to enter The Netherlands. It’s good practice for it to be more than six months from expiry on your provisional arrival date. If you’re in for a long stay, renew it in your home country before you leave.
  • An employment contract from the company. Preferably only signed after getting a second opinion and after working out the tax implications of working abroad.

Make sure you do the following too:

  • Send the required forms for the permit application to your employer. They will be able to share the full list of documents needed with you, which should include a copy of your valid passport, an antecedent certificate and others. At this stage, it’s also a good idea to translate your original birth certificate into either Dutch, English, French, or German as you will need it to collect the permit later.
  • Stay patient and keep a positive attitude. Once submitted, the IND has up to 90 days to approve this type of visa application. Typically, an outcome is reached within two weeks. Expect more red tape with corporation applications than with startups.
  • Collect your travel documentation from the Dutch representative in your home country once your employer has been contacted by the IND and shared the successful outcome with you. Your residence permit will only be issued by the IND later from within The Netherlands.
  • Book your ticket and travel to the Netherlands.

After arrival:

  • Collect your residence permit once the IND lets you know that it is ready. This should happen within fourteen days of arrival and you can’t start working without it.
  • Notify your employer immediately if anything is incorrect on your visa/permit. Double check that it is valid for as long as your employment contract duration too.
  • Register in the municipality you will be living in. You may be required to do a tuberculosis test if your home country is not on the IND exemption list. Keep your legalised and translated birth certificate from earlier on hand for the registration process too.
  • Take out health insurance within four months of arrival in the country.
  • Stay informed about developments around permits. Use our useful resources list at the end of the guide to avoid running into trouble if policies change due global events like the ongoing pandemic.

Checklist for companies to complete a Highly Skilled Migrant Visa for developers in the Netherlands

Employers looking to hire a developer from outside of the EU are required to submit the application for the highly skilled migrant visa on behalf of their prospective employee. Here’s a checklist for companies to follow to make it a smooth process:

  • Attain formal, government-recognised sponsor status. If this isn’t already the case, the company will have to go through the process of getting on the trade register first. The primary requirements for doing so include not having issues related to bankruptcy or outstanding debt, paying a fee, and recognition that all members of the organisation are deemed trustworthy.
  • Offer an age-appropriate salary. Formal requirements depend on the age of the employee, and the minimum offer changes annually. Monthly salaries based on the industry can be calculated on the IND website. Employees under 30 years old have to earn at least €3,381 with an 8% holiday allowance. Those over 30 require the same along with a minimum salary of €4,612.
  • Issue an employment contract to the prospective employee. Be specific about the duration, as this will indicate the length of the validity of the residence permit too. A permanent contract will issue a valid permit for up to five years. If the employee leaves the company during this period, their new employer will need to take over sponsorship duties.
  • Share a list of the correct documentation needed for the application with the employee. Remind them that all country-specific documents must be translated into one of four languages (Dutch, German, French or English).
  • Fill in the application for a highly skilled migrant worker visa and pay the appropriate fees. You may also need to apply for the provisional residence permit (mvv) simultaneously if your future team member is from a non-exempt country.
  • Arrange for the employee to collect their documents. Once all the conditions have been met and the application has been processed, the IND will issue the relevant documentation for the employee to travel through the Dutch representative in their country of origin. This allows them to travel to The Netherlands right away.
  • Prepare a welcome party! Keep in mind that the new team member will only have their residence permit issued from within the country roughly two weeks after arriving. They will only be able to work once they have it. This also gives them a bit of time to settle into their new environment.
  • Continue to check the IND website and their social media feeds for updates to legislation, conditions or requirements to make sure the company stays compliant at all times.

Although there are quite a few steps to follow, with the right preparation it doesn’t have to be overly complicated. That said, different people (and companies) have different sets of circumstances. Seek additional professional advice if you have specific questions that weren’t covered here. Companies that aren’t on the IND recognised sponsor lists should consider starting the process as soon as possible, or employing a third party to help. Good luck!

Useful resources:

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