The Modern Migration Policy Act (in Dutch: "Wet Modern Migratiebeleid") (the "Act") will significantly change immigration procedures in the Netherlands. In this Baker & McKenzie Client Alert you will find a short summary of the most relevant changes.

The Act has been approved by the Dutch Lower House on 16 February 2010. However, software issues with INDiGO, the new information system required to support the Act, kept it from entering into force for more than 3 years.

In a recent progress report of 20 February 2013 the Dutch State Secretary indicated that sufficient progress has been made with respect to the implementation of INDiGO. As a result the introduction of the Act would not be delayed much longer. On 6 March 2013 the State Secretary confirmed 1 June 2013 as the definite date of entry into force of the Act.

In a nutshell: What will change?

The Act will improve efficiency and turnaround time of Dutch immigration procedures. For example, instead of having to follow separate procedures, migrants will be able to follow one single procedure to apply for a provisional residence permit (D-Visa, or in Dutch: "MVV") and to apply for the actual residence permit.

There will be less need to apply for frequent renewal. The Act enables the Immigration and Naturalisation Service ("IND") to grant regular residence permits (such as permits for work) for a longer period of time. In addition, it will be possible to change employers more easily without the obligation to apply for a new residence permit.

With respect to work related migration, employers will become 'sponsor' of a migrant who intends to reside in the Netherlands to perform salaried employment. A significant advantage is that sponsors will be able to submit applications on behalf of the migrant, while the migrant is still abroad. However, there is also a downside. Sponsors will have to fulfill several legal obligations. They will have a duty to inform the IND with respect to changes relevant to the residence status of the migrant, a duty of care and an administration duty (certain documents will have to be saved for up to five years after the sponsorship). Furthermore, sponsors will be responsible for the migrant's repatriation.

Legal entities can apply for IND authorized sponsorship. Authorized sponsors benefit from the IND's assumption that they fulfill all relevant obligations. Authorized sponsors can issue their own statements to confirm that the migrant meets the conditions for the grant of a residence permit, without having to send underlying documentation to the IND. Subsequently, an expedited procedure will be followed by the IND, that should lead to a decision regarding the permit application within a few weeks.

Employers who want to hire Highly Skilled Migrants must hold authorized sponsorship. Employers already admitted to the Highly Skilled Migrants scheme will automatically become authorized sponsors, provided that they have submitted at least one Highly Skilled Migrant Visa application that has been granted by the IND in the period since 1 June 2012.

If an authorized sponsor does not (or no longer) fulfill the conditions for authorization, the IND will retract the authorization. Furthermore, the Act entitles the IND to impose penalties on migrants and sponsors who fail to fulfill their legal obligations. The IND will also obtain title to recover repatriation costs from the sponsor, if the migrant is found staying illegally in the Netherlands within a year after his/her relationship with the sponsor has ended.