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 exempted 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 or Switzerland. 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
- 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.
- You are a Croatian national who has had a Dutch residence permit for the purpose of ‘work’ for twelve consecutive months.
- 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
- You have a residence permit which provides an exemption of the workpermit obligation, with one of the following purposes of stay:
- Orientation Year for Highly educated persons (Zoekjaar hoogopgeleiden)
- Highly Skilled Migrant Scheme (Kennismigrantenregeling)
- Scientific researcher under EC directive 2005/71
- European Blue Card
- You are doing scientific research at a university
- You are doing research as part of an EU project or other bilateral research project
- You are a lecturer at a university (of applied science).
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.
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 in the employers pages of this website (in Dutch only).
When coming to the Netherlands to work for a longer period of time, you may want to bring your partner with you. But what about your partner? Can he or she work in the Netherlands as well?
Partner is free on the Dutch labourmarket (no work permit required) when:
- Your partner has EU-nationality
- You hold a residence permit as knowledge migrant (kennismigrantenregeling)
- You hold a residence permit as scientific researcher (wetenschappelijk onderzoeker 2005/51)
- You hold a residence permit for Orientation Year for highly educated persons (zoekjaar hoogopgeleiden)
The general rule is: as regards to work, your partner has the same rights as you. This means that if your residence permit allows you to work without a work permit, your partner does not need one either. Likewise, if you are only allowed to work with a work permit, your partner will need one too. Your partner’s future employer is responsible for the work permit application.
However, if you hold a residence permit for knowledge migrant or scientific researcher, your partner gets a broader work permit exemption than you get yourself. As you are only allowed to do the work which is part of your contract as knowledge migrant or researcher, and your partner can take on any job/voluntary work.
If you think the general rule might not apply in your situation, as there are complicating factors, we recommend you contact the HR department of your host organisation.
You are coming to the Netherlands to do research or teach at a higher education institution. But for whatever reason you may want (or need!) a second job. Here you can read whether this is legally possible. To have a work permit or not… that’s the question!
If you have a residence permit for the purpose of “work” you may think that you can pick up any job you like, or even have two jobs. However, this is a far cry from reality. If your employer has arranged a work permit for you, this permit allows you to do the exact job that you are hired for, and no other job. You can have a second job, but your second employer will then need to apply for an additional work permit for you.
As a scientific researcher or guest lecturer there is a good chance that you are allowed to work without a work permit. Your residence permit will most likely read: “Work permit not required. Other work not permitted”. Now the advantage of not requiring a work permit turns against you. You are not allowed to do any other job than the job that your residence permit was granted for. Therefore, having a job “on the side” is not an option, even if you need it to supplement your income.
A note should be made regarding highly skilled migrants. A highly skilled migrant can have two employers, as long as he qualifies as a highly skilled migrant for both jobs. These requirements are laid out in the Aliens Act.