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Work permit

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.

No work permit required

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. Exemptions apply if:

  • You are an EU/EEA, Swiss national 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 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 a full exemption of the workpermit obligation (you are free on the labour market):
    • Orientation Year for Highly educated persons (Zoekjaar hoogopgeleiden)
    • Scientific researcher under EU directive 2016/801 (but please note that research should be your main purpose of stay)
  • You have a residence permit which provides an exemption of the workpermit obligation for the labour according the purpose of your stay, with one of the following purposes of stay:
    • Highly Skilled Migrant  (Kennismigrantenregeling)
    • European Blue Card
  • You are doing scientific research at a Dutch institute of higher learning or research institute
  • 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 still apply for a work permit under less stringent rules.  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.

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. 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 the Dutch Immigration and Naturalisation Service (IND). 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, this will save a couple of weeks time.

Further information for employers is available in in the employers section of this website (in Dutch only). For more information on working in the Netherlands and the work and residence required, please visit this webpage of the Dutch Immigration and Naturalisation Service (IND)

Your partner and a work permit

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 2016/801)
  • 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.

Acitivities next to work/ research

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, either paid or on a voluntary basis. Here you can read wether this is legally possible. Find out if a workpermit is needed for these extra activities.

  • EU/EEA citizen: you are free to work in the Netherlands, also for voluntary work, second jobs, setting up your own company.
  • Holders of a residence permit which states 'arbeid is vrij toegestaan': such residence permit allows free movement on the Dutch labour market, including voluntary work, side jobs, setting up an enterprise.
  • Residence permit of scientific research under the EC/2016/801 directive: this residence permit gives you the status 'free on the labourmarket' which allows you to pick up any other economic activity next to your research. You can take up a second job, do any occasional work, you can do voluntary work and set up a company, all without any workpermit restrictions. However, make sure your research activities are the main part of your economic activity! If you spend more time on other activities than research, you do longer comply to the conditions of yoiur residence permit. The HR department at your research institute can advise you on this.
  • Residence permit as highly skilled migrant (kennismigrantenregeling): this residence permit allows you to do the work for which you are hired. You are not allowed to take up work outside of the workdescription, for example a sidejob. 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.
  • Your employer has a work permit for you: a work permit only allows your employer to let you do the work for which the work permit was acquired. In the unlikely event that your employer had to apply for a workpermit for you, you are only allowed to do the work which falls under the work permit. Your HRM can advise you if you are allowed to take up other work, for which you will need another work permit.