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The Highly Skilled Migrant (HSM) or Knowledge Migrant (KM) program is a very lenient and beneficial work and residence authorisation category for foreign nationals going to work and reside in the Netherlands and who meet certain criteria. The sponsor must be registered with the IND (Dutch Immigration Authority).
The applicant may have a local contract directly with the Dutch entity or may remain on home-country contract and be assigned to the Netherlands, in which case there is no requirement for the employee to have been employed by the sending company for any minimum time. The required minimum salary level for a highly skilled migrant residence permit application is dependent on the applicant’s age.
When submitted via one of the Expatcenters in certain major cities, the HSM process can be further expedited. The One Stop Process is a streamlined process that requires the applicant to make just one visit to the authorities post-arrival: the registration and collection of residence permit is combined.
Companies that are transferring employees into the Netherlands for short-term assignments (up to 90 days in a six month period) can obtain a Temporary Work Permit and do not need to complete any post-arrival formalities or obtain a residence permit.
Alternative routes exist but are not popular. The EU Blue Card has a higher salary threshold and criteria are higher than for the HSM category. The standard local-hire work permit requires a labour market test, processing time is slower and refusal rates are high.
The Intra-Company Transfer Permit (EU Directive 2014/66) is only applicable to assignees falling into management/specialist or trainee categories sent to the Netherlands for over 90 days from outside the EEA and has a maximum total duration of stay of three years. If an applicant meets qualifying criteria for this process, he or she may not use the HSM category or the ICT work permit, but managers and specialists may be able to change status after the three years maximum duration.
ICT permits under Directive 2014/66 allow mobility within EU member states - i.e. work permission is not required for EU ICT permit holders to work in other member states for less than 90 days and a streamlined Mobile ICT permit application may be applicable if working in other member states for longer than 90 days.
If the Dutch company is optionally registered with the IND as a "Recognised Sponsor" the processing time for individual applications is much shorter. The applicant must have been employed for at least three months by the sending company or group of companies immediately preceding the date of the intra-corporate transfer application.
Companies that are not registered with the IND as recognised sponsors under the Knowledge Migrant route, may be able to follow a standard Work Permit procedure for intra-company transfers which do not fall into the scope of the EU ICT directive. This route is on average one to two months slower than the Knowledge Migrant Program Procedure. The company must have an annual worldwide group turnover of at least EUR 50 million and must have multiple international subsidiaries, including an operating entity in the Netherlands.
The Van der Elst or Notification of Services is an immigration process whereby a non-EEA national who is employed and contracted by a home entity in the EEA country and sent to perform services in another EEA country no longer requires a work permit. A notification should be made to the Dutch Labour Authorities and a residence permit applied for stays of over 90 days.
Some Temporary Assignments for work-related activities are permitted on a Schengen C Visa or visa waiver stay for non-EU/EEA/Swiss nationals assigned from outside the EEA to the Netherlands for a temporary period, either for business meetings (up to a maximum total duration of 13 weeks within a year); for software implementation where the assignee is being sent to fulfil foreign contractual obligations to a Dutch client company; or for training (both limited to a maximum duration of 12 weeks within a 36-week period). A visitor may only be eligible for one of the mentioned exemptions per visit. Combining these exemption categories is not allowed from a Dutch travel and work authorisation perspective.
The Work Permit Exemption (International Commercial Trade Regulations Program) has recently come into force, replacing the narrower Knowledge-Based Industry Pilot Program which ran as a test from July 2013 to June 2017. Under this new work permit waiver program, registered Dutch companies can bring non-EU/EEA/Swiss foreign nationals to the Netherlands to perform activities as part of a pre-approved project related to the delivery of goods and services for a period of up to three years. Work permits are not required but a notification should be made to the Dutch Labour Authorities and a residence permit applied for stays of over 90 days.
EU/EEA/Swiss nationals who will be working and residing in the Netherlands do not need to apply for a work or residence permit; a valid EU/EEA ID card or passport is enough to prove right of residence and employment in the Netherlands. However, if remaining in the Netherlands for longer than four months, they should complete local registration with the local municipality (note that birth and marriage certificates will be required and may need to be legalised, depending on country of origin).
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