Personal & Reliable

Applying for a work permit for highly skilled personnel

Has your organization found the right talent, but this person does not have Dutch nationality? Then certain arrangements must be made to enable them to start working in the Netherlands, such as applying for a work permit. Below you will find more information about when a work permit is required.

When is a work permit required?

Applying for a work permit is not necessary if the employee has a nationality from the Netherlands, Switzerland, the European Union (EU), or the European Economic Area (EEA). For these nationalities, the free movement of people applies, meaning that the employee is free to work in the Netherlands. As a result, international talent does not need a residence permit and a work permit (TWV).

Usually, the work permit is included in the grants in case of applications for the Highly skilled migrant or ICT-permit, however, besides the aforementioned, a separate work permit will have to be applied for. This is common for someone from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) and outside Switzerland.

If the newly hired highly skilled personnel is from outside the Netherlands, EU, EEA, and Switzerland, he/she may be allowed to work in the Netherlands under certain conditions. This employee will have to meet various requirements to be able to start, including the need for a work permit.

A complex procedure? Don’t worry, we’ll be happy to take care of this for you.

Types of work and residence permits

There are two types of work permits: a work permit (TWV) and a combined residence and work permit (GVVA). The work permits are issued under strict conditions by the UWV. Exceptions to the rule apply for certain groups, making it unnecessary to apply for a work permit. Your personal situation determines which immigration process applies to you.

The duration of the stay determines whether there is a need for a residence permit in addition to a work permit. If it is less than 90 days, a work permit (TWV) through the UWV and a short-stay visa may often be required.

Multiple variations in work permits

There are multiple types of work permits depending on the purpose of stay, with the most common being “Employment in Paid Employment” where a combined permit for residence and work, or GVVA, is required and can be applied for through the UWV.

The GVVA combines the residence permit and work permit (TWV), and the application is assessed based on whether a “significant Dutch interest” applies. This means that the organization must demonstrate that suitable personnel for the open position/vacancy has not been found in both the Netherlands and Europe.

In some cases, applying for a GVVA is not applicable or even possible. In these situations, a residence permit for paid employment must be applied for through the Immigration and Naturalization Service (IND). The IND will seek advice from the UWV to grant this residence permit. If the application is approved, the employer will receive a copy of the additional document stating all the conditions.

Stay shorter or longer than 90 days in the Netherlands

When a foreign employee stays in the Netherlands for less than 3 months, a visa or even a residence permit must be applied for. For example

  • “Employment is freely permitted”, which is often the case for foreigners with an asylum residence permit.
  • “Self-employed work”, which is specifically for self-employed entrepreneurs.
  • “Start-up”, which can be issued to starting entrepreneurs.
  • “Highly skilled migrants”, as they contribute to the knowledge economy.
  • “Short-stay visa” when an employee who remains living abroad comes to perform certain work in the Netherlands for a short period. Think of meetings, repairs, trainings, etc.
  • Once the international talent stays in the Netherlands for more than 90 days to work, the employee needs a residence permit. Depending on the position, the highly skilled migrant needs a certain type of residence and work permit. The most common residence and work permits for knowledge and talent are:

    • Highly skilled migrant
    • European Blue Card
    • Researcher according to Directive (EU) 2016/801
    • Essential start-up personnel
    • Intra Corporate Transferees (ICT)

Recognized sponsor

Once your organization has found the new foreign employee for their knowledge and talent, the desire is for them to come to the Netherlands quickly to start working. But is that possible?

The organization or employer acts as a sponsor for the IND (Immigration and Naturalisation Service) when a residence and work permit is required for the expat. The employer is responsible for ensuring that all conditions are met to qualify for the desired residence permit. The IND makes a distinction between organizations that are or are not recognized sponsors. Recognized sponsors are reliable partners of the IND to be able to hire (faster) regular knowledge migrants.

Is your organization not yet a recognized sponsor? Then that is the first step that needs to be taken.

erkend referent

Do you need work permit documentation?

Official documentation and proof must be added to complete the residence and/or work permit application. These official foreign documents must be issued and legalized by the competent authorities in the country of origin and/or home country. Examples of such documents are birth and marriage certificates. In some cases, the Dutch embassy or consulate may also need to provide additional legalization for the relevant document.

The Netherlands is a member of the Apostille Convention. This is an agreement between multiple countries where the apostille (a stamp/sticker) from the court on an official document proves that the signature on the document is genuine. Please note that legalizing or apostilling evidence can take a lot of time. Also, fees are charged to arrange this.

Validity of residence permit

he validity of the issued residence and work permit is equal to the duration of the employment contract or appointment.

The residence permit is linked to the work permit and has the same validity period. This is a different story for the validity period of a combined permit for residence and work. This is done in accordance with the advice of the UWV.

A residence permit for employment in paid employment or a combined permit for residence and work is issued for a maximum of 3 years.

The IND calculates fees to process a work and/or residence permit. These fees are also called fees. The fees must be paid in advance. If the payment of fees is not made, the IND will not process the application.

Is your organization an accredited sponsor? Then the fees will be automatically debited at a later time from the account number provided.

Please note: fees will not be refunded if the application is rejected.


Entering the Netherlands

Once the application for the residence and/or work permit has been approved, the highly skilled migrant can come to the Netherlands. In many cases, the employee needs a special visa to enter the Netherlands for a stay of more than 90 days. This is called a provisional residence permit (mvv) and can be obtained at a Dutch embassy or consulate in the home country or current host country.

When the international talent has an mvv, he/she can start working immediately upon arrival in the Netherlands. The IND residence permit can therefore be collected at a later stage, as the mvv is already proof of the approved application. However, we advise to still collect the residence permit as soon as possible, as this permit can be used as a Dutch identity document.

Family members and family reunification

The family members of the employee are allowed to travel to the Netherlands, but not if it concerns seasonal work, internships, or gaining work experience.

The major advantage of being a recognized sponsor is that the employer can also submit the application for family members. During this application, own statements are used and fewer supporting documents need to be provided. If the family members want to travel to the Netherlands together, the applications for the expat and the family members must be sent simultaneously. If the family wants to arrive in the Netherlands at a later time, the application for the family can be submitted later than the employee.

If the organization is not a recognized sponsor, the employee will have to apply for the residence permits for their family members themselves.


Compliance with legal regulations and IND obligations

Several legal rules and IND obligations apply when working with foreign employees. As an organization, you are responsible for complying with those rules and the Foreign Nationals Employment Act (Wet arbeid vreemdelingen or Wav). The employees and any staffing agencies also need to comply with all rules. The Dutch Labour Inspectorate checks whether the organization complies with these rules. A fine may be imposed if the compliance is incorrect.

Finally, changes in the situation of the employee/employer may affect the issued residence permit. Therefore, both the expat and the employer are obliged to report any changes to the IND. The IND then investigates whether the residence permit needs to be changed or even revoked.

Applying for a work permit through Global Relocation Compass

Global Relocation Compass has years of experience with various situations in immigration and relocation processes. You can engage our services to ensure a worry-free journey. We will handle the entire IND process for you. For more details, please contact us at or 0031 6823 80 801.