Netherlands

October 2013

This summary is designed to provide basic information about business visits and work authorization requirements and processes for The Netherlands. Please remember that, as with any country, Dutch immigration laws may change without notice. The information in this summary is of a general nature and does not constitute legal advice. For current and detailed information regarding the topics below, as well as allowances for accompanying family members, and any other information pertaining to your specific needs, please contact your immigration professional.

BUSINESS VISITORS

Business Visit Defined – A “business visit” is generally a short-term trip taken to conduct business activities for which work authorization is not required in the destination country. Once a foreign national requires work authorization, the foreign national is no longer considered a “business visitor” from an immigration perspective, even though he or she may be making a very short “visit” to a country for what he or she considers to be “business” purposes.

Allowable Activities – In The Netherlands, business visitors must generally limit their activities to the following:

  • Attending business meeting or discussions
  • Installing or repairing equipment/software

If a business trip, regardless of its length, will involve activities other than those outlined above, work authorization and an entry visa may be required. Please note that the definition of what constitutes a business trip may trigger specific conditions. Please contact your immigration professional to confirm requirements for your case.

Type of Visa – Business visitors to The Netherlands typically use the Schengen visa.

Unless exempt by treaty or other reciprocity agreement, foreign nationals are required to obtain a Schengen visa prior to entering the Netherlands for business visits. Please contact your immigration professional to determine whether or not a visa exemption applies to your nationality.

The Schengen visa must be obtained from the Dutch diplomatic post with jurisdiction over the applicant’s place of residence or country of citizenship.

Short-Term, Technical Activities – Business Visitor status may in some cases be appropriate for visits to install or repair machinery, computer software or equipment at either an affiliated company or a client site. Computer specialists, manufacturing technicians, and other foreign employees traveling to the Netherlands to install or repair equipment or install and implement software products (provided the equipment and software and manufactured and supplied by the foreign national's home company) may be exempt from obtaining a work permit prior to arrival up to a maximum of 12 consecutive weeks in a period of 36 weeks, for a single entry only. Accordingly, please consult you immigration professional to determine the most appropriate permit and/or visa for your case.

Basic Requirements – The following general requirements for business visitors are subject to change by the Dutch authorities.

  1. A residence and an employer outside The Netherlands;
  2. A defined, limited period and pre-determined plans;
  3. No compensation from sources within The Netherlands; and
  4. The intended period of stay must be consistent with the purpose of the trip.

Visa Application: Required Documents and Processing Times – Documentation requirements and processing times for Schengen visa applications tend to vary across Dutch diplomatic posts and to change frequently and without notice. Please contact your immigration professional for the most up-to-date information.

Maximum Stay – While diplomatic posts and immigration officers can exercise discretion in determining the length of stay for any visitor, the maximum allowable stay as a business visitor in the Netherlands is generally four (4) cumulative weeks in a 13-week period when the stay involves attending business meetings and 12 consecutive weeks in a 36-week period when technical activities are conducted as part of the visit. In addition, the Netherlands is part of the Schengen Area, where visitors must limit their total stay to 90 days in a 180-day period. Accordingly, the normal validity of most Schengen business visas is 90 days within a given 180-day period. Business visitor visa may not be extended except under special circumstances.

EMPLOYMENT AUTHORIZATION

The following is a summary of the requirements and process for obtaining employment authorization for The Netherlands for the common scenario of an intra-company transfer.

Please note that certain nationals may be exempt from the work authorization requirement by treaty or other agreement. Please contact your immigration professional if you are not certain whether you require work authorization for the Netherlands.

Basic Requirements – The following requirements apply to the sponsoring company and the foreign national employee:

  1. The position must be specialized or managerial in nature;
  2. The foreign national employee must be employed by the sending company immediately prior to the transfer and have a university diploma (BA level or higher) or equivalent relevant experience;
  3. The company must pay the employee a minimum annual gross base salary consistent with the required amounts (salary threshold);
  4. Certain foreign nationals (e.g., individuals employed in the context of academic research or as doctors undergoing specialist training) may be exempt from some of these requirements; and
  5. The sponsoring organization’s overall financial group turnover must be at least 50 million Euros annually.

Process Overview – Foreign nationals who will work in the Netherlands for more than three (3) months must obtain a work permit and residence permit. If the foreign national will work for less than three (3) months, only a work permit is required. A Dutch corporate sponsor is required to file the work and residence permit applications on behalf of the employee. The work permit application is filed with the Dutch Labor Authorities (UWV). For all work that will exceed three (3) months, non-visa nationals are required to file a residence permit application with the Dutch Immigration Authorities (IND). Foreign nationals who must also obtain an entry visa prior to being admitted to the Netherlands are required to file an entry visa and residence permit application to the IND. Once the work permit application is approved by the Labor Authorities, non-visa required nationals may enter the Netherlands. Nationals who require an entry visa may only enter the Netherlands once their work permit application is approved and their entry visa is issued. Foreign nationals may collect their residence permit (once they are available) following their entry into the Netherlands. The type of visa issued required depends on the intended length of stay of the foreign national. Foreign national employees whose nationality is not part of the EU, EEA or Switzerland - including nationals of Bulgaria, Romania and Croatia - are prohibited from commencing work until they have secured their work authorization.

Work Authorization Process: Required Documents and Processing Times – Documentation requirements and processing times for both visa and work permit applications can change frequently and without notice. In addition, documentation requirements for visa applications tend to vary significantly across Dutch diplomatic posts. In addition, the authorities retain discretion to request additional documents.

Work Permit and Visa Validity Period – Work permits via the UWV may be granted for up to three (3) years, and may be extended under certain conditions.

"Regularization" from Business to Work Status – Foreign national employees may convert from visitor to work permit holder in The Netherlands. Please contact your immigration professional to review eligibility to convert the status.

PENALTIES FOR NON-COMPLIANCE

Employer – Employers in the Netherlands who violate the Act on Employment of Foreigners are, since January 2013, subject to a new severe penalty schedule: A fine of €12,000 (per foreign national concerned) will be imposed for a first offence; any other breaches within a five year period, will increase this penalty to €24,000 per foreign national concerned; and any additional violations within this same five year period will incur a fine of €36,000 per foreign national concerned.

  • Provision of Employee Documents - If a foreign national is providing direct services to one or more companies in The Netherlands, it is the responsibility of the employer denoted on the foreign national's work permit to provide all Dutch work sites with a copy of the foreign national's identity documents and residence permit (if applicable). Failure to comply with this directive will result in a fine of €2,250 per violation.
  • Employee Document Verification & Retention - All receiving sponsoring employers in The Netherlands are required to verify the identity of each foreign worker and to keep a copy of each foreign worker's identification documents in its administrative records. Failure to comply with this directive will result in a fine of €2,250 per violation. In addition, all receiving sponsoring employers in The Netherlands are required to retain a copy of each foreign worker's identification document and, where applicable, a copy of each foreign worker's residence permit, for at least five years after the calendar year during which the foreign worker's employment ended. Failure to comply with this directive will result in a fine of €2,250 per violation.

The finable offenses set forth in the Administrative Penalty do not preclude employers from facing criminal penalties if they become repeat offenders. Criminal prosecutions for these offenses may be pursued in addition to the administrative penalties.

Employee - Foreign workers providing services to one or more companies in The Netherlands other than their sponsoring employer are required to provide their Dutch employer with a copy of their identification document, and (where applicable) a copy of their residence permit. Employees will be fined €225 for failure to comply.