Netherlands: Work Permit Waiver Program in Effect

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By Marcus Hoy

Netherlands-based companies are now allowed to bring certain foreign workers into the country without work permits, under a new waiver program effective July 1. The new rules allow companies to employ foreign workers on qualifying projects provided they can show that the employees are needed for their specialized knowledge. No minimum salary requirement is specified apart from the minimum wage. Company managers and directors meeting the required criteria will be eligible for the waiver.

A pilot program begun in July 2013—the Knowledge Industry Project—allowed companies to employ foreigners without work permits in a limited number of capacities such as training and knowledge transfer. Employers were barred from the program if they had violated immigration or labor rules during the previous five years, and projects were disallowed if they did not meet strict sales and value criteria including the generation of at least 50 million euros ($57 million) in annual revenue.

The new waiver program eliminates the five-year compliance requirement and, while requiring that projects “contribute to international trade” and not have a negative effect on the labor market or distort competition, does not set a minimum revenue level.

Employers wishing to participate in the program must submit an application to the Employee Insurance Agency, which will assess the project's suitability. Following approval, companies can immediately begin bringing foreign workers into the Netherlands. Projects can be registered for up to three years and extensions can be granted. Employees under contracts exceeding three months will be required to apply for residence permits.

The Pilot Improved

“Despite companies being generally positive about the pilot, the evaluation showed that some improvements could be made,” Lennard Noordzij, attorney at AMS Advocaten N.V., told Bloomberg BNA in a July 7 statement. Now that they have been, “we believe that the new waiver will generally be beneficial for the business community.”

In a July 7 statement, Edwin van Scherrenburg, spokesman for the Confederation of Netherlands Industry and Employers, told Bloomberg BNA that his organization welcomes the new program, which simplifies and clarifies the application process used in the pilot.

“We have lobbied hard to get this result,” van Scherrenburg said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Marcus Hoy in Copenhagen at correspondents@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Rick Vollmar at rvollmar@bna.com

For More Information

The new rules are available in Dutch here.

For more information on Dutch HR law and regulation, see the Netherlands primer.

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