ABIL Lawyers

Jelle Kroes

Jelle Kroes

Amsterdam, Netherlands

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The Netherlands are part of the Schengen treaty. According to the Schengen rules, a short-term stay is defined as a stay of up to 90 days; a long-term stay is more than 90 days. For a long-term stay in the Netherlands, third-country nationals (non-European Union (EU)/European Economic Area (EEA)/Swiss nationals) need a residence permit. Depending on their nationality, they may also need an entry clearance visa before traveling to the Netherlands to apply for a residence permit.

Short-term stay Visa for a short period of stay (Schengen C-visa) are typically granted for a single entry, but may also be granted for multiple entries, provided that the holder of the visa never stays longer than 90 days at any one time, and never longer than an aggregate total of 90 days within a period of 180 days. Short-stay visas are applied for at the Dutch consulate or embassy. The Dutch consulates and embassies in some countries operate an “orange carpet program” for frequently traveling executive staff of companies who have a Dutch subsidiary or a stable business partnership in the Netherlands. The visa may be granted through an accelerated procedure and will typically be granted for multiple entries and made valid for three years.

Long-term stay Entry clearance visa (MVV)
A visa for a long-term stay (Schengen D-visa), also called an entry clearance visa or MVV (machtiging tot voorlopig verblijf), is granted only if the applicant fulfills the requirements for a residence permit. The MVV is applied for at the Dutch consulate or embassy, and applicants are not allowed in principle to travel to the Netherlands pending approval of the MVV application. The application is assessed and approved by the Immigration and Naturalization Service (IND). The consulate may only grant the visa after express approval from the IND, and must do so unless there are indications of document or identity fraud. MVVs for employees may be applied for by the employer in the Netherlands, directly at the IND, which is the typical process for labor-related immigration. The employee only needs to report to the Dutch consulate once the IND has sent its approval message to the consulate. Exempt from the entry clearance visa requirement are all countries included in the EU/EEA/Switzerland, plus Australia, Canada, Monaco, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea, Vatican City, and the United States.

BUSINESS VISITORS Requirements for Business Visitors

  • Signed Schengen C-visa application form
  • Passport
  • Letter from the inviting company
  • Company details of sending company
  • Letter from sending company
  • Employment contract
  • Details where foreign national will stay (hotel address will suffice)
  • Travel health insurance
  • Flight ticket or reservation
  • Two passport photos

Allowed Activities The Employment of Foreigners Act stipulates a work permit requirement for any type of work to be performed by non-EU/EEA/Swiss nationals for a Dutch employer. Various situations (22 in total) are exempt from this requirement. Business meetings, for example, are exempt. Business meetings may take up to a maximum duration of 4 weeks, be it uninterrupted or not, within a 13-week period. Also exempt is the implementation of software delivered by a foreign company. The company may transfer its employees to the Netherlands for the purpose of installation and implementation of its software at a client established in the Netherlands, or for the purpose of instructing its Dutch client in the use of it. This exemption is limited to a maximum duration of 12 weeks within a 36-weeks period.

Extension of Stay An extension of the Schengen visa beyond the 90-day stay is only allowed in exceptional circumstances. Note, however, that the work permit-exempted activities mentioned above are strictly defined by the law: if the activities exceed the applicable maximum duration, a work permit is required.

Approximate Timeline The visa application will take a maximum of 15 days, but visas are usually issued faster than that. The governmental fee to be paid to the Dutch consulate or embassy is approximately EUR 60.


Duration/Maximum Period of Stay A work permit is granted for the duration of the employment contract or the assignment, with a maximum of three years.

Work Permit Process and Documents The main categories for long stay regarding labor-related migration are: (1) regular labor immigrants (2) labor immigrants with an exemption from the labor market test (3) knowledge migrants (4) independent entrepreneurs Persons in categories (1) and (2) should apply for a residence permit for salaried employment, based on an employment contract with a specific Dutch employer, In case of an intracompany transfer, a local contract is not necessary, and the foreign national may remain on the home payroll. This residence permit will be granted if the employer has obtained a work permit for the employee. Regular work permits require a labor market test. This a tough test to meet. It is useful for employers to look into the options for labor market-exempted work permits; e.g., the intracompany transfer scheme for multinational corporations with an annual sales revenue of EUR 50 million. Renewal of stay depends on the work permit and therefore on continuation of the job. Employees who have been working for three years uninterruptedly and have the prospect of continued employment are entitled to full labor market access, independent from any specific employer. Category (3) knowledge migrants do not need a work permit. The holder of a knowledge migrant residence permit has access to the labor market in that particular capacity: working as a knowledge migrant, and with an employer that is registered with the IND as knowledge migrant employer. A knowledge migrant is essentially defined by the level of his or her salary, which must meet the required salary threshold. Category (4) independent entrepreneurs include business owners, contractors, self-employed persons, independent artists, and similarly structured occupations. The essence of this category is independence from a specific company. Independent entrepreneur applications are assessed using an elaborate points-based system, which awards points based on various considerations, such as personal experience, the business plan, and added value to the Netherlands.

Approximate Timeline The approval process takes approximately 2 weeks for a knowledge migrant residence permit; 3 weeks for a work permit without a labor market test; 5 weeks for a regular work permit application; and 3-4 months for an independent entrepreneur.

Fees The government fee for labor migrants and business owners is EUR 433. The government fee for knowledge migrants is EUR 938.


Spouses and children may join the foreign national for a long-term stay in the Netherlands. Dependents of a knowledge migrant may work in the Netherlands without any prior requirement.


For any stay longer than 90 days, a residence permit application must be filed for the specific purpose of stay. Labor-related residence permits are obtained without major additional requirements (no integration test, no age thresholds). The procedure takes from a few weeks (labor migrants, including dependents) up to several months (family reunification).


After 5 years of uninterrupted stay in the Netherlands on the basis of a valid residence permit, the foreign national may qualify for a permanent residence permit. An integration test is required. The procedure takes some 4 months.


After 5 years of continuous and legal stay, a foreign national may also qualify for Dutch nationality. The applicant must renounce his or her original nationality (or undertake to do so after having obtained Dutch nationality). An integration test is one of the requirements. The procedure takes some 9 to 12 months.


Ministries or Agencies involved in the visa and permit process:

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