Hiring an expat or knowledge migrant: how does it work?

Sometimes the specialists you need cannot be found in the Netherlands. In such a case, you may look for this specialist abroad. Highly skilled professionals who move to another country for work are called “expats” or “highly skilled migrants”. Would you like to hire an expat or highly skilled migrant? Progressive can take the entire process off your hands through our Global Mobility Solutions network. Let's dive into the details!


Regulations for highly skilled migrants and expats

When you want to hire one or more employees from abroad, you're bound to deal with specific regulations and risks. How complicated these rules and procedures are, varies by country of origin. For example, citizens from the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland are free to live and work in the Netherlands without a work permit (or TWV in Dutch) or residence permit (VVR in Dutch). Workers coming from the EEA or Switzerland are not called knowledge migrants, so for this group, we only use the term expat. The EEA consists of the following areas and countries:


  • The EU
  • Norway
  • Iceland
  • Liechtenstein


Suppose the employee you want to hire already has a residence permit — for example, through a partner or as an asylum seeker — the residence permit might contain 'work freely permitted'. In such a case, applying for a work permit is not necessary.


The government wants to attract highly skilled specialists to move to the Netherlands for work to stimulate the economy and ensure that they bring in more knowledge. For this specific reason, special schemes have been created. These schemes exempt you from applying for a work permit. Applying for these schemes is done through the IND. An employer must be registered as a 'recognised sponsor' to become eligible for certain schemes. As a sponsor, you have rights and obligations, all listed on the IND website here.


Highly Skilled Migrants Scheme, EU Blue Card and the GVVA

When you want to hire a professional outside the EEA or Switzerland, it is referred to as a highly skilled migrant. The main schemes that apply to highly skilled migrants in the Netherlands are the Highly Skilled Migrants Scheme, the European Blue Card and the Combined Work and Residence Permit, for which the employer must submit an application.

But we make things easy. Our consultants are ready to take over this whole process on behalf of the employer. Still curious about the differences between the schemes mentioned above? Let's examine each scheme more closely.


Scheme for Knowledge Migrants

If you want to hire a professional outside the EEA or Switzerland in the Netherlands, you can use the Highly Skilled Migrants Scheme. In this case, employees do not need a work permit. However, the employer must offer the knowledge migrant a certain minimum wage. There are three categories for salary requirements. If it is a researcher or a migrant who wants to use an orientation year, a lower salary criterion applies.


The EU Blue Card

Employers can use the EU Blue Card for workers who work within the EU that requires a higher qualification but are not EU residents. This blue card makes it easier for a high-skilled knowledge migrant to move to another European country. However, the salary threshold for this scheme is considerably higher than for applicants of the Dutch knowledge migrant scheme. Note that this difference is even greater for migrants under 30.


Combined Work and Residence Permit (GVVA)

Suppose the knowledge migrant is not eligible for the schemes mentioned above. In that case, the employer can apply for the Combined Work and Residence Permit (GVVA in Dutch), also known as the Combined Permit. Both the IND and the UWV assess the GVVA application.


Speed of the application procedure

If the IND recognises the employer as a sponsor, the IND usually decides within two weeks, regardless of the scheme. The European Blue Card application, however, requires an additional step. The Dutch organisation for the assessment of foreign diplomas needs to evaluate the knowledge migrant's diploma, which takes an average of two to four weeks.

Note that after the period mentioned above has elapsed, the Dutch Embassy in the country where the migrant lives still needs to prepare all the necessary documents. Depending on the country and whether there is a local backlog, this can also take several weeks.


Global Mobility Solutions

Progressive has a worldwide network to ensure that the professional you seek is always within reach. We find the talent you need, take care of the entire process, and ensure that everything runs smoothly. Using our Global Mobility Solutions network makes it easy for both you as the employer, and the candidate.

You don't have to worry about the special arrangements. We take care of the visa, the flight, and finding a place to live. We take care of the entire process, from advice to recruitment, mobility to assessment, and follow-up care. Want to know more? Contact us right away!


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