Every year between 5,000 and 7,000 highly skilled migrants come to the Netherlands. They make an important contribution to our economy. Since October 2004, a special Highly Skilled Migrant Scheme is applicable in the Netherlands. What are the regulations regarding highly skilled migrants?
What is meant by a highly skilled migrant?
A highly skilled migrant is a highly educated immigrant – from outside the European Union, European Economic Area and Switzerland – who comes to work in the Netherlands and brings special (academic ) knowledge. The Netherlands has a specific regulation for the admission of highly skilled migrants, which makes it easier for Dutch companies to hire highly-skilled workers from outside Europe. To be able to employ a highly skilled migrant, it is required that the employer is recognized as a ‘sponsor’, by the Immigration and Naturalization Service (IND) (click here for a list of recognized sponsors). The employer does not have to apply for a work permit for the highly skilled migrant, but needs to submit, to the IND, an application for a residence permit to the IND for the foreign employee. In addition, the highly skilled migrant’s salary needs to meet the following minimum salary requirements (2020):
- € 4,612 gross per month for highly skilled migrants aged 30 years or older (excl. 8% holiday allowance);
- € 3,381 gross per month for highly skilled migrants younger than 30 years of age (excl. 8% holiday allowance);
- € 2,423 gross per month for highly skilled migrants younger than 30 who have graduated in the Netherlands and obtain or apply for a highly skilled migrant permit within 1 year (excl. 8% holiday allowance).
Residence Permit for a Highly Skilled Migrant with an employment contract of indefinite duration
In the case of an employment contract for an indefinite period of time, the IND will grant a 5-year residence permit. After this 5 year period, an application can be made by the highly skilled migrant for a permanent residence permit. If the employment contract for an indefinite period is terminated, the IND will grant the highly skilled migrant a search period of 3 months to find a new position as a highly skilled migrant. If the highly skilled migrant finds a new position with a recognized sponsor within 3 months, the residence permit will remain valid. If the highly skilled migrant does not find a new position, the residence permit will expire upon expiration of the search period.
The search period starts on the day on which the employment contract ends. During this period, the highly skilled migrant must provide for himself. If he or she claims benefits, his or her residence permit can be revoked.
Residence Permit for a Highly Skilled Migrant with a fixed-term employment contract
In the case of a fixed-term employment contract, the IND will issue the residence permit for a maximum period equal to the duration of the employment contract. Accordingly, in the case of a fixed-term employment contract, the legal residence of the highly skilled migrant depends on the duration of his or her employment contract. When the employment contract expires, the right to reside also expires.
The highly skilled migrant with a fixed-term employment contract will, however, be granted a search period of 3 months if he becomes unemployed prematurely, i.e. before the expiration of the fixed-term employment contract. A highly skilled migrant with a fixed-term employment contract will not be granted a search period if his employment contract expires after this fixed term, since his residence permit would no longer be valid.
After the search period period
If the highly skilled migrant has not found a new position after three months, the IND will withdraw the residence permit. In that case, the highly skilled migrant must leave the country within 4 weeks. If the highly skilled migrant has found a new position that meets all the requirements, the residence permit will remain valid.
Illness and incapacity for work
If the highly skilled migrant becomes ill but still meets the salary requirements due to the amount of the salary received, a benefit, or a combination of these, he or she can still be regarded as a highly skilled migrant. It is therefore important for the highly skilled migrant to make clear agreements with his or her employer about the amount of salary during his possible occupational disability. This sick pay must be at least equal to the salary criterion of the highly skilled migrant scheme. When the employment contract ends, the search period also starts for the sick highly skilled migrant.