Immigration procedures
Changing purpose of residence permit to "highly skilled migrant"
Registering highly skilled migrants
Extension of residence permit for highly skilled migrants

There are several ways that a company can hire highly skilled migrants. First, it is essential to obtain recognition as a sponsor for the purpose of stay, regular employment and highly skilled migration from the Immigration and Naturalisation Service (IND). In order to receive this recognition, the employer must determine which procedure is relevant to the potential employee. This article provides an overview of those procedures and analyses related challenges.

Immigration procedures

Broadly speaking, there are five different procedures:

  • entry and residence (TEV);
  • regular residence permit (VVR);
  • changing the purpose of a residence permit to "highly skilled migrant";
  • registering a highly skilled migrant; and
  • extending a residence permit for a highly skilled migrant.

The first two procedures are, in principle, applicable to potential highly skilled migrants who are still residing abroad. The last three procedures involve a residence permit that has already been granted in the Netherlands. In order to qualify as a "highly skilled migrant", certain conditions must be met (for further details please see "When is someone a highly skilled migrant?"). In addition, the situation and procedure that applies to the potential highly skilled migrant partly will determine the wage criterion.


This procedure applies to third-country nationals whose nationality requires that they obtain a long-stay visa (MVV) and does not give them the right of residence in the Netherlands. For these persons, an application must be made via the IND online business portal, after which a decision will be made within approximately two weeks. The IND will then send a message to the Dutch embassy or consulate in the migrant's country of origin or permanent residence. The preferred location for collecting the MVV can be indication on the business portal.

The future employee must then schedule an appointment at the Dutch embassy or consulate to apply for an MVV and to submit their biometric data in order for the residence document to be produced in the Netherlands. This appointment must take place within three months after notification from the IND. Issuing the MVV takes approximately two weeks, after which the highly skilled migrant can travel to the Netherlands. The MVV is valid for three months and has the labour-market endorsement "work as a highly skilled migrant". This means that, upon arrival, the highly skilled migrant can in principle start working immediately, even if the residence document is not yet available. However, the highly skilled migrant must obtain their residence document from the IND desk before the MVV expires, and the recognised sponsor must include a copy of both documents in their administration.

If there are no special circumstances, the highly skilled migrant can start working approximately five to seven weeks after submitting the application.


This procedure also applies to third-country nationals who do not have a right of residence in the Netherlands. However, this procedure specifically concerns third-country nationals who are exempt from the MVV requirement. This may be due to:

  • their nationality;
  • a residence permit in another Schengen country; or
  • previous residence in the Netherlands.

It is possible to submit an application for residence as a highly skilled migrant via the IND business portal, after which a decision should follow in approximately two weeks. Employees in this category do not need an MVV and can travel to the Netherlands immediately. They will have to make an appointment with an IND desk to submit their biometric data, which is necessary for the residence document. After issuing the biometric data, the IND needs approximately two weeks to create the residence document. The highly skilled migrant can only start working once they have obtained a valid residence document. This means that they will have to wait for their residence document or schedule an appointment – possibly at the same time that the biometric data is provided – to obtain a residence endorsement sticker in their passport. In both cases, a copy of the valid residence document must be included in the administration of the recognised sponsor.

If there are no special circumstances, the highly skilled migrant can start working approximately two to four weeks after the submission of the application.

Changing purpose of residence permit to "highly skilled migrant"

When a third-country national already has a residence permit in the Netherlands, they can choose to change their residence permit to a different purpose of stay. There can be various reasons for this. In practice, it is often those who reach the end of their search year for highly educated persons who change their residence to highly skilled migrant. After all, this search year serves the purpose of finding a job as a highly skilled migrant, and the change is, therefore, a logical consequence of this. In other cases, the motives of the person in question when changing their purpose of stay should be carefully examined.

In more uncertain circumstances – such as person who first earned their right of residence from living with a partner but whose relationship later came to an end – it is important to check whether the possibility to change still applies or whether a new application must be submitted (regardless of an MVV exemption). The duty of care on the part of the recognised sponsor plays an important role here, and the IND is strict in its assessments.

If it indeed concerns a change of restriction, it is important to submit the change in time, so that no residence gap occurs. It must also be carefully examined whether the person in question can obtain a residence endorsement sticker in order to work while awaiting the decision or whether a decision is required first.

In principle, this procedure takes approximately two weeks after the application is submitted via the IND business portal.

Registering highly skilled migrants

If a third-country national is already working in the Netherlands and wants to change employers, in most cases, this can be done fairly easily. However, the new employer must be aware of a number of things.

A highly skilled migrant can only change employers during the search period. The search period is a maximum of three months and may not exceed the validity of the residence permit. Recognised sponsors are responsible for checking whether the change of employer takes place within the search period. This can be checked by requesting evidence that the employment contract with the previous recognised sponsor was terminated no more than three months before the start of the new employment contract. If the search period has already expired, in most cases a new application will have to be submitted, regardless of an MVV exemption. This can have consequences in the form of a residence gap and, therefore, for the applicable wage criterion, where the highly skilled migrant is eligible for the reduced wage criterion.

Moreover, the change must be reported within 28 days. This can be done via the IND business portal.

Extension of residence permit for highly skilled migrants

If the residence permit of the highly skilled migrant is shorter than the agreed employment contract, an application for extension of the residence permit will also have to be submitted. This can be done up to three months before the residence permit expires. In such cases, the IND will use the statutory 90-day period to make this decision.

The highly skilled migrant can continue to carry out their work; however, it is recommended to apply for a residence endorsement sticker and to include a copy of this in the administration.

When it concerns an extension for a highly skilled migrant who already works for a recognised sponsor, the indexation of the wage must be taken into account.

For further information on this topic please contact Miriam Berendes-Currey or David Wernsing at Maes Law by telephone (+31 85 902 12 70‚Äč) or email ([email protected] or [email protected]). The Maes Law website can be accessed at