What permits do foreign workers need?
Foreign citizens wishing to work in the Netherlands have to meet various requirements. People from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland often need a work permit, of which there are 2 types: a tewerkstellingsvergunning – TWV (work permit) and a gecombineerde vergunning voor verblijf en arbeid – GVVA (combined residence and work permit).
No work permit required for Dutch or EEA citizens
Workers who Dutch citienship or citizenship of another country within the EEA or Switzerland are free to work in the Netherlands without a TWV or GVVA. Foreign citizens from other countries may also work in the Netherlands, subject to certain conditions.
Work permit required for foreign workers from outside the EEA
Foreign citizens from outside the EEA and Switzerland wishing to work in the Netherlands may, as a rule, only work in the Netherlands if their employer has been issued TWV for these employees. The Uitvoeringsinstituut Werknemersverzekeringen – UWV (Employment Insurance Agency) will not issue an work permit (in Dutch) unless strict conditions have been met. For example, an employer must be able to show that they cannot find a suitable candidate in the EU. Less stringent requirements apply for special categories of workers.
Where a foreign citizen worker is hired through a company or temporary employment agency, that company or temporary employment agency must apply for a TWV and also send a copy of the worker’s identification, together with the permit, to the hiring company. The hiring company compares the copy with the worker’s original identification before they start working, and keeps the copy in the company records.
No permit needed for certain groups
Employers in the Netherlands do not need to obtain a work permit for certain groups of foreign citizen workers from outside the EEA and Switzerland. However, these employees must have a residence permit or a visa if they intend to stay in the Netherlands for less than 3 months.
The persons covered by this rule include:
- individuals with a residence permit containing the note ‘arbeid is vrij toegestaan’ (‘permitted to work’), for example holders of a verblijfsvergunning asiel (asylum residence permit);
- self-employed foreign citizens who have a verblijfsvergunning zelfstandig ondernemer (residence permit for self-employed persons);
- foreign citizens starting up a business who have a verblijfsvergunning start-up (residence permit to begin a start-up) ;
- highly skilled migrants: highly educated migrants who can contribute to the knowledge-based economy in the Netherlands;
- foreign citizens who live outside the Netherlands and are performing a specific task in the Netherlands for a short period of time. For instance attending business meetings or repairing equipment supplied by their employer based outside the Netherlands.
Types of work permit
There are 2 types of permit:
- tewerkstellingsvergunning – TWV (work permit);
- gecombineerde vergunning voor verblijf en arbeid – GVVA (combined residence and work permit) .
The UWV uses the same criteria to assess applications for a TWV or GVVA. Which of the 2 permits is required depends on how long the foreign citizen will be working in the Netherlands. Foreign citizen workers can apply for a GVVA themselves, but only employers can apply for a TWV.
Foreign citizens from outside the EEA and Switzerland must apply for a GVVA if they are coming to the Netherlands to work for more than 3 months.
GVVA not required but TWV required
Some groups of foreign citizens do not need to apply for a GVVA, but the employer must still apply to the UWV for a TWV. These include:
- employees coming to work in the Netherlands for less than 3 months;
- students who have a residence permit for study purposes;
- asylum seekers awaiting a decision on their application for asylum.
Conditions for granting permits to workers from outside the EEA
An employer can only employ someone from outside the EEA and Switzerland in the following cases:
- the employer cannot find a suitable candidate from an EEA country or Switzerland;
- the vacancy has been open for at least 5 weeks, or at least 3 months for vacancies that are difficult to fill. The UWV decides whether a vacancy is difficult to fill;
- the employer has done everything it can to find a worker from the Netherlands, the EEA or Switzerland.
The employer applies to the UWV for an TWV or to the IND for a GVVA, and must also satisfy other requirements for the TWV or GVVA.
Less stringent requirements for GVVA or TWV
Some groups of foreign citizens do require a GVVA or TWV, but the application requirements are less stringent. The persons covered by this rule include:
- students who combine their studies with a job of no more than 16 hours a week;
- trainees (on-the-job learning);
- artists whose income is higher than a threshold amount;
- asylum seekers;
- spiritual leaders, such as ministers, imams and clerics;
- nuns, monks or missionaries.