Visit Holland - The Netherlands

Immigration in the Neherlands

Foreigners who wish to remain in the Netherlands for more than three months must fulfil several conditions.

Authorisation for temporary stay (MVV)
People from outside the European Union who wish to come to the Netherlands for reasons related to work, study or family and who are  required to obtain a visa must apply for an authorisation for temporary stay (MVV) (information in Dutch) in their own country. This will be granted only If they fulfil a number of conditions. Foreigners wanting to come to the Netherlands to join family members, for instance, must show that they have sufficient income. They also have to prove that they have sufficient knowledge of the Netherlands and of the Dutch language. Foreigners who want to study in the Netherlands must be able to pay the costs themselves.

Foreigners who are in possession of an MVV may come to the Netherlands. They must apply for a temporary residence permit as soon as they arrive. Anyone applying for an MVV or a residence permit for the purpose of work, study, or family reunification or formation must pay administrative charges (for the processing of their application) (in Dutch).

Highly skilled migrants
The government wants to create more opportunities to attract talented people from other countries. More lenient rules apply to aliens who can contribute to the Dutch economy, or to culture or research in the Netherlands.

No MVV required
Nationals of countries within the European Union and a number of other countries, such as Australia, are permitted to come to the Netherlands without being in possession of an MVV (information in Dutch). Those from outside the EU must apply for a temporary residence permit as soon as they arrive in the Netherlands. EU citizens do not require a residence permit.

MVV eligibility conditions

To be eligible for an MVV, foreign citizens must fulfill a number of conditions:

*  they must demonstrate that they can support themselves financially, for instance by producing a contract of employment;
*  they must be able to prove their identity by producing a valid identity document, such as a passport;
*  they must demonstrate that they do not have a criminal record.

Specific conditions attached to an MVV

Foreign citizens who want to come to the Netherlands for purpose of family formation or reunification and who are required to obtain an MVV must take and pass the Dutch civic integration examination abroad. This also applies to members of the clergy, such as ministers or imams, who want to work in the Netherlands. They cannot apply for an MVV until they have passed this examination. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is responsible for overseeing Dutch civic integration examinations abroad.

More details regarding the Dutch civic integration examination can be found on the website externe link: Going to the Netherlands.

Applying for an MVV

There are two ways of applying for an MVV. You may apply for an MVV at the Dutch Embassy or consulate in your own country. Alternatively, the referee (sometimes called the sponsor) in the Netherlands (e.g. the employer) can contact the IND to initiate an MVV procedure. The IND’s website has more information about applying for an MVV (in Dutch).

Assessment of the application

The IND examines whether the foreign citizen fulfils all the conditions. On the basis of this assessment, it decides within six months whether to grant or reject the application.

Application granted

A foreign citizen whose application is granted will be issued an MVV. This will enable him or her to gain admission to the Netherlands. Upon arrival in the Netherlands, he or she must apply to the IND for a temporary regular residence permit. Such a permit is valid for one year and may be extended. If the immigrant still fulfils the necessary conditions at the end of that 12-month period, the IND will extend the permit at his request. After five years, the immigrant may apply for a permanent residence permit.

Application rejected

A foreign citizen whose application for an MVV is rejected may lodge an objection, after which there are further possibilities of judicial review and appeal. For more information about these procedures, visit (in Dutch).

MVVs and temporary residence permits: the figures

In 2009 a total of 50,700 MVV applications were submitted. This represents a 3% rise in comparison with 2008. The IND rejected 47,600 of the MVV applications received, and granted 42,100 of them.

In the same year, 58,100 applications were submitted for temporary residence permits. This represents a 4% fall in comparison with 2008. The IND rejected 56,400 of the applications received, and granted 49,400 of them.

Referees (bringing someone to the Netherlands)

A referee is a person or organisation with an interest in ensuring that a particular foreign citizen is admitted to the Netherlands. Examples of referees include partners, universities and employers. Only certain individuals or organisations can act in this capacity: there must be a specific connection between the referee and the foreign citizen.

Current procedure for referees

Referees who want a particular immigrant to come to the Netherlands can initiate an MVV advisory procedure by applying to the IND. This makes it possible to check the foreign citizen’s eligibility for an MVV, free of charge. This procedure will continue to apply until the Modern Migration Policy Act enters into effect.

Modern Migration Policy Act

To create more opportunities to attract talented people from other countries, the Netherlands is revising its migration policy. The new policy will speed up the admission procedure for aliens who can contribute to the Dutch economy, or to research and culture in the Netherlands. For other foreign citizens, a strict admission policy will continue to apply.

The relevant legislation has been passed by the House of Representatives and the Senate of the States General. It is not yet clear when the Modern Migration Policy Act will enter into force.

The government’s plans for migration policy

The government is restricting the scope for migrants without prospects to come to the Netherlands. Thus, it is lengthening the qualifying period for continued independent residence from three to five years. This means that if a marriage entered into on the basis of family reunification breaks up within five years, the partner must return to the country of origin. The government is also making illegal residence in the Netherlands a criminal offence.

The government wants long-term or permanent migrants to the Netherlands to have an opportunity to integrate into Dutch society.

Family migration

The government is making several changes relating to family migration:

*  Migrants will only be allowed to bring their spouse, registered partner and minor children to the Netherlands. With this measure, the government hopes to discourage migrants from marrying solely in order to obtain a residence permit. For couples who are legally prevented from marrying abroad, such as same-sex couples, a marriage visa will be introduced, opening up the possibility for them to marry in the Netherlands.
*  A migrant must have been in the Netherlands for one year before his or her partner can be admitted to the country. This is to ensure that migrants who want their partners to join them have already gone through the process of civic integration;
*  If a marriage breaks down after family reunification, the partner cannot obtain an independent continued residence permit unless the marriage lasted for at least five years. If it breaks down within five years, the partner must return to the country of origin. This measure is intended to prevent sham marriages.

Illegal residence in the Netherlands to be made a criminal offence

The government is making illegal residence in the Netherlands a criminal offence. In the future, aliens who have entered the Netherlands illegally and who have not left the country again (or have not done so by the set time limit) will be committing a criminal offence. In this connection, the government is taking the following measures:Illegal residence in the Netherlands will be classified as a minor offence.

*  Persons living in the Netherlands illegally may be sentenced to a maximum of four months’ imprisonment or a fine of €3,800. Unpaid fines will remain in force for four years.
*  Criminal liability is confined to illegal residents who are over the age of majority. Children are dependent on their parents for residence in the Netherlands and the government therefore considers that they cannot be held responsible in this regard.
*  Being an accessory to illegal residence, for example by providing illegal immigrants with accommodation or food in very cold weather, will not be an offence.
*  Anyone guilty of human trafficking or employing illegal residents may be prosecuted.

Stricter rules for ‘returning migrants’ settling in the Netherlands

In the future, the following groups too will have to obtain an MVV while still abroad before they can enter the Netherlands and apply for a residence permit:

*  foreign citizens who as children resided lawfully in the Netherlands for five years;
*  returning migrants who are eligible to return to the Netherlands.

Expulsion after conviction

A forein citizen who commits a criminal offence may be expelled from the Netherlands. A ‘sliding scale’ is used when withdrawing a residence permit. The longer a foreign citizen has lived in the Netherlands, the more serious the crime must be before his residence permit is withdrawn. The government is taking the following measures in this connection:

*  the length of the prison sentence on the basis of which a residence permit can be withdrawn will be reduced. The decision to expel can thus be taken at an earlier stage;
*  new rules will make it possible to expel a foreign citizen who is sentenced to prison in the first three years of residence in the Netherlands;
*  it will now be possible to withdraw the residence permit of a foreign citizen who has had three convictions within a period of three years;
*  the time limit attached to the sliding scale will be abolished. This means that even after a foreign citizen has lived in the Netherlands for over ten years, he can still be expelled if he commits a very serious offence.

Housing for residence permit holders

Asylum seekers who are issued with a residence permit in one of the country’s reception centres must start taking part in Dutch society as quickly as possible. The first step is to obtain housing within a municipality. Under the terms of the Housing Allocation Act, all municipal authorities will have a legal obligation to house refugees and receive allocation targets every six months.