EU Blue Card: Hiring Non-EU Employees In The Netherlands

Why confine your organisation to a local talent pool when the top talent may not always be found nearby? Employers may access a bigger and more global talent pool when they take recruiting international talent into consideration.  Lovie Kaur from Expat Management Group explains how you can hire a non-EU employee under the European Blue Card scheme.

Recruiting from abroad seems almost impossible if you have only recently been established as an entity or you haven’t gotten your “recognised sponsorship” status sorted out yet. When employment of a foreign individual under the Highly Skilled Migrant (HSM) scheme is not possible because the employer is not a recognised sponsor, don’t worry, there are other options to consider. One of them is bringing international talent over through the EU Blue Card route.

The European Blue Card

The European Blue Card enables a non-EU citizen to work in the Netherlands as a highly educated migrant. It is a work and residence authorisation category, whereby an employer sponsors the combined work and residence permit in the Netherlands.

In order to be eligible for a European Blue Card, the employee must possess the following:

  • A local Dutch employment contract for at least one year
  • A bachelor’s or master’s degree showing that the employee completed a higher education programme of at least three years
  • A gross monthly salary of at least 5.867 euros, excluding 8% holiday allowance (Salary threshold of 2023, excluding 8% holiday pay)

A real life example

In order to simplify the entire process, it might be wise to share a real-life case where a “non-recognised” employer hired their first international employee from the Philippines. This employee was hired for two years with a local Dutch employment contract and his one-year-old son and spouse, who is a US national, were supposed to accompany him to the Netherlands. Here is what the process looked like for this particular employee:

Collecting documents to immigrate to the Netherlands

There were various documents needed to start the process of immigrating to the Netherlands:

Evaluation foreign degree

The first step in hiring an international employee under the EU Blue Card scheme is to have their foreign diploma / certificate evaluated by the International Diploma Credential Evaluation Authority (IDW) or Nuffic in the Netherlands. The foreign degree is a key document in the procedure, and it needs to match the position for which the individual is being employed.

For this reason, before any high education degree from other countries can be recognised in the Netherlands, the IDW must evaluate them to determine which Dutch education level the foreign diploma is equivalent to.

Please note that the time taken to evaluate a diploma / degree certificate may differ at a given time considering the workload of the IDW at that moment.

Translation and legalisation of marriage and birth certificates

If the employee is accompanied by their family members in moving to the Netherlands, the employee must provide the apostilled or legalised marriage certificate to prove his relationship with his spouse as well as birth certificate(s) for any children.

In this real-life example, the employee and his son were born in the Philippines, and both their birth certificates were translated and apostilled by the Philippine authorities.

Birth certificates

Please note that while the birth certificates of the employee and his spouse were not required for the immigration process, they were required for registration with the local Dutch town hall or municipality after their arrival in the Netherlands.

Filing the TEV (Toegang en verblijf) application with the Dutch Immigration Authority (IND)

After all the documents were ready, the next step was to file the application for an entry visa and residence permit for the Netherlands. A combined (TEV) application entry visa and residence permit for the employee and his family was filed on behalf of the employer. Since the employer was a non-recognised sponsor in this case, approval took approximately eight weeks.

Collecting the entry visa from the local Dutch consulate or embassy

Once the immigration application was approved in the Netherlands and the approval letter was received, the employee and his family could apply for an entry visa (MVV), using the latter, at the Dutch consulate in Manila. After this appointment, it took another 10 days for the visa to be ready for collection. As a US national, this step in the immigration process can be skipped for the spouse.

The Overseas Employment Certificate (OEC) for Filipino workers

Apart from most other nationals, a Filipino worker who wishes to work abroad must get the Overseas Employment Certificate (OEC), also known as the Exit Clearance Certificate. According to the regulations of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA), all employees must have this certificate when departing for or returning to their work overseas to ensure that all the employment rights, benefits, and welfare of Filipino migrant workers are duly protected at the foreign worksite.

Securing an OEC is a two-phase process. The first phase involves having the worker’s employment contract, as well as a few other supporting documents, authenticated by the Philippine Labour authorities abroad. In the second phase, the worker is able to apply for the OEC in the Philippines. This process can take several months if you are not aware of the right process and set of documents that are needed to support your case. However, with the help of a corporate immigration / relocation company, the employee was able to get his exit clearance within three weeks and travel to the Netherlands.

Please note that depending on the nationality of your new employee, they may need to apply for a similar document.

In-country services: Local registration and settling in

Once a foreign worker arrives in the Netherlands, they must take care of the following things to complete their local registration:

  • Collect their residence permit from the IND
  • Register with the local town hall or municipality
  • Get a BSN (burgerservicenummer) / Citizen Service Number
  • Take a mandatory tuberculosis test (the employee and family members may be exempted from this depending on their nationality)

Finding housing in the Netherlands

When your new employee first arrives in the Netherlands, they may opt for temporary accommodation for the first few weeks while they search for a permanent residence. However, they will need to keep in mind that staying in a hotel or in another short-stay residence while they search for housing is not ideal as these addresses are typically not accepted by the town hall during registration. An address is needed in order to apply for a BSN and without a BSN, it’s not possible to register with various service providers such as health insurance, etc.

30% tax ruling

It's also important to note that your new employee may benefit from the 30% ruling as a highly skilled migrant, wherein the taxable amount of a gross Dutch salary is reduced from 100% to 70%. This means that 30% of the worker’s wage is tax-free.

Foreign employees in the Netherlands are entitled to the 30% ruling if they meet the following requirements:

  • They are an employee of a company in the Netherlands
  • They have professional expertise that is scarce or not available in the Netherlands. Highly skilled migrants are deemed to have such expertise when their income meets the above salary requirements.
  • The employee and their employer agree in writing that the 30% ruling applies to their situation
  • The employee has been recruited or transferred from abroad (and they have lived more than 150 km from the Dutch border for more than 24 months prior to working in the Netherlands).

Do you want to know what the process will look like in your company's situation? Do you have questions about immigration, relocation, and tax-related services in the Netherlands (or in another country?) Feel free to contact Expat Management Group at [email protected].

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