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Work Permits

Depending on your nationality or the purpose of your stay, a work permit might be required for you. In this section you can read up on work permits and, perhaps more interestingly, whether you may be exempt from this requirement.

When coming to the Netherlands to work, the general rule is that the employer will have to apply for a work permit for you if you do not have the nationality of an EU/EEA member state Switzerland or Japan. However, since the Dutch government wants to stimulate its ‘knowledge economy’, scientific researchers are often exempt from this requirement. This is fortunate, as an ordinary (full) work permit is generally quite difficult to aquire.

You don't need a work permit if

  1. You are an EU/EEA, Swiss national (excluding Croatians) or Japanese national, a work permit is not required as you can access the Dutch labour market freely and under the same conditions as the Dutch.
  2. You are a Croatian national who has had a Dutch residence permit for the purpose of ‘work’ for twelve consecutive months.
  3. You are a foreign national who has had a Dutch residence permit for the purpose of ‘work’ for five consecutive years and the Netherlands is still your main place of residence;
  4. You are a guest lecturer, staying in the Netherlands for a maximum of three years.
  5. You have a residence permit which provides an exemption of the workpermit obligation, with one of the following purposes of stay:
    • Orientation Year for Graduates Seeking Employment (Zoekjaar afgestudeerde)
    • Highly Skilled Migrant Scheme (Kennismigrantenregeling)
    • Scientific researcher under EC directive 2005/71
    • European Blue Card

NB: the Orientation year for Highly Educated Migrants (Regeling Hoogopgeleide) does not provide an exemption of a work permit.

A work permit under less stringent rules

Most research situations which do not fall under an exemption of the work permit can profit from less stringent rules. Now a work permit is required, however less stringent rules apply for the application procedure.  Less stringent rules for example mean that the employer does not need to prove that he could find no suitable person within the EU.

Less stringent rules apply to foreign nationals who work in higher education (researchers, guest lecturers), or other sectors where shortages have been identified. They are not considered a threat to the Dutch labour market, in fact, the opposite is true. The Netherlands needs foreign nationals to fill certain positions in order to keep up or improve our competitive position in certain areas such as research.

In practical terms this means that for these categories it will not be checked if there is a supply of workers available in a category with a higher priority. This saves the future employer a lot of paperwork and time in the application procedure. More importantly, it greatly increases the chance that a work permit will be approved of.

A full work permit

If neither the exemptions nor the less stringent rules apply to your situation, your employer will have to apply for a full work permit. Now it will be checked if there is no supply of suitable workers within the EU which could also do the work.

Application procedure

It is up to the employer or host institution to apply for the work permit at the UWV. It takes at least 5 weeks for the application to be processed. Employers who hire foreign nationals without first obtaining a work permit risk being fined €8,000 for each illegal employee. A work permit is free of charge.

Regulations concerning work permits and immigration procedures are very much intertwined. A Schengen visa or (provisional) residence permit will be granted only if the work permit has been issued. This means that if your employer needs to apply for a work permit, you should calculate some extra time (up to 5 weeks) for the immigration procedures.

The authority for issuing work permits is called UWV. The authority deciding on (provisional) residence permits is called IND (Dutch Immigration and Naturalisation Service). Sometimes it may be possible for your employer to submit a joint application for both a work permit and a (provisional) residence permit. Both applications will then be handled at an office where these two organisations work together. If this is available in your case, we would certainly advise your employer to do so. This will save a couple of weeks time. 

Further information for employers is available in the support staff section of this website (in Dutch only).

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See also
  1. FAQ
    1. FAQ - work permits