In this short outlook for 2014, the following Dutch immigration law topics are briefly discussed for your further consideration, courtesy of our Amsterdam Immigration Desk.

  1. Update: Modern Migration Policy Act
  2. Single Permit Directive
  3. Salary thresholds for Knowledge Migrants
  4. Free movement of Bulgarian, Romanian and Croatian nationals
  5. Abolishment of duty to report EU Nationals
  6. Revision of the Dutch Foreign Nationals Employment Act
  7. Work permit waiver scheme for Business Visitors

1. Update: Modern Migration Policy Act

In a bid to have Dutch migration procedures based on a more substantive participation of migrants in Dutch society, per 1 June 2013 the Modern Migration Policy Act came into effect. The act introduced a simplification of residence permit procedures and reduced the administrative burden for sponsoring companies(“Sponsors”).

The Dutch immigration service ("IND") communicated that the act would accelerate permit procedures considerably. Although the new act has led to an undeniable improvement, in our Immigration Desk's experience, migrants and their (employers) Sponsors have not been able to reap all of the anticipated benefits yet. Furthermore, the act has introduced specific obligations that should not be taken lightly. For example, in order to hire “Knowledge Migrants” (in Dutch:"Kennismigranten"), employer Sponsors require so-called “Authorized Sponsorship” (in Dutch: "Erkend Referentschap") first, which is a specific corporate qualification that must be filed with the IND (and for which the IND is charging an application fee of EUR 5,065 in 2014). Furthermore, the act has introduced additional obligations for (authorized) Sponsors; i.e., an obligation to provide information, a duty to keep records and a “duty of care.”

2. Single Permit Directive

The Dutch government has implemented the European Single Permit Directive and intends to have it entered into force in early 2014. As a result, instead of having to follow separate procedures, migrant workers will be able to follow a single application procedure with the IND for combined residence and work privileges. However, not all migrant workers will benefit from this new procedure. Consequently, separate applications may still be necessary. It will depend on - among others - the nature of a migrant's work activities in the Netherlands.

Please note that a “one permit” procedure already exists for Knowledge Migrants, regardless of the implementation of the Directive.

3. Salary thresholds for Knowledge Migrants

As from 2014, employees must meet the following salary thresholds in order to qualify for a Knowledge Migrant permit:

  • A gross monthly salary of at least EUR 4,048 (EUR 4,371.84, including 8% holiday allowance) for migrants 30 years of age or older
  • A gross monthly salary of at least EUR 2,968 (EUR 3,205.44, including holiday allowance) for migrants younger than 30 years of age
  • A gross monthly salary of at least EUR 2,127 (EUR 2,297.16 including holiday allowance) for graduates in the Netherlands

4. Free movement of Bulgarian, Romanian and Croatian nationals

Per 1 January 2014, Bulgarian and Romanian nationals no longer need a work permit to be employed in the Netherlands. The obligation to apply for a residence permit had already expired when Bulgaria and Romania joined the European Union on 1 January 2007.

The Netherlands has temporarily opted out of the full mobility of the workforce in respect of the new EU member, Croatia, which means that Croatian nationals still need work permits.

5. Abolishment of the duty to report EU Nationals

As from 6 January 2014, EU/EEA and Swiss nationals residing (and working) in the Netherlands are no longer required to report their stay in the Netherlands and obtain a registration sticker for their passports from the IND. This (former) semi-obligation has always been rather questionable since  legal  residence for EU nationals simply follows from EU law, without any obligation to meet a duty to report.

6. Revision of the Dutch Foreign Nationals Employment Act

The Dutch Foreign Nationals Employment Act changed per 2014. Procedures to obtain work privileges in the Netherlands have been tightened. Notwithstanding specific exceptions, the maximum duration of a general work permit is now limited to one year (instead of three years). Renewal is no longer possible. For every new period, a new work permit application will have to be filed and all relevant conditions will have to be met and assessed anew. Furthermore, the work permit application may be declined if the employer has been penalized for violation of Dutch employment law, examples of which include the Dutch Working Conditions Act or the Dutch Foreign Nationals (Employment) Act.

7. Work permit waiver scheme for Business Visitors

Until 2014, non-EU business visitors who came to the Netherlands in order to attend business meetings or to sign business contracts did not require a work permit, provided that they kept their business trips limited to a maximum joint duration of four weeks within a 13-week period.

Dutch legislature intended to ease the work permit waiver scheme for business trips by allowing visitors to benefit from the aforementioned exception for an extended 13 weeks within a 52-week period (as from 2014). Unfortunately, by mistake, the amended provision of Dutch immigration law currently reads that a work permit for a business visit is not required, provided that the duration of stay is limited to a maximum consecutive period of 13 weeks within a 52-week period. Consequently, the change led to an unintentional restriction. Instead of multiple business trips over a shorter period, it now seems that only one business trip per year is allowed without a work permit.

The Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment has recognised that this was not the intention of the waiver’s revision. They confirmed a reconsideration of the change and announced that meanwhile, the “old” rules remain effective. This means that - for now - a non-EU business visitor can still come to the Netherlands for multiple business trips for a maximum joint duration of four weeks within a time frame of 13 weeks.