Changing employers as an expat in the Netherlands: 3 transition examples

Changing employers as an expat in the Netherlands: 3 transition examples

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Altair Global has been providing personal relocation and immigration services for expats in the Netherlands for over 25 years, with a focus on quality, mobility and transparency.

Due to the improving economic situation in the Netherlands, a new trend is becoming apparent: expats are changing employer more often.

Since strict regulations apply to the process of changing employer as a non-Dutch national, it’s important to avoid any possible pitfalls and to follow the legal path.

We take a look at different types of circumstances surrounding employer changes in the Netherlands, and the related obligations and requirements.

Residency arrangements in the Netherlands

The ease with which you can change employer depends on your original Dutch work and residence permit.

There are, loosely speaking, three ways of coming to the Netherlands and taking on employment:
1. Without needing a residence and work permit (EU-nationals).
2. Being invited by a recognised sponsor as a Highly Skilled Migrant (combined application for entry, residence and work permit).
3. With a regular residence and work permit (non-EU-nationals).

Once you are in the Netherlands, the process of changing employer can differ depending on which of the above structures applies to your personal situation.

Changing employer as an expat: three example cases

So, how should you proceed when changing employer? We look at three scenarios which highlight the different requirements, depending on the individual circumstances.

Example 1: German citizen, EU-national

Ms Schmidt would like to change employer from Company A to Company B. Can she stay in the Netherlands and work for Company B after cancelling her employment at Company A?

As she is an EU-national, Ms Schmidt has the same employment rights and obligations as a Dutch citizen. She is therefore allowed to stay and work for another employer without her residency being affected in any way.

It is also important to note that Ms Schmidt does not have any deadline or constraints on the amount of time she can take to find a new employer.

Example 2: Indian citizen, Highly Skilled Migrant

Mrs Andala has been invited by Company A to work on a project in the Netherlands. Her letter of deputation states that she will be transferred for 24 months to the Netherlands as a Highly Skilled Migrant, after which time she must return to India.

After 10 months, Mrs Andala receives a good offer from Company B. Is Mrs. Andala allowed to stay in the Netherlands and work for Company B after cancelling her employment at Company A?

Yes, Mrs Andala is allowed to stay and work in the Netherlands, as the combined residence permit remains valid for the same period as her current assignment, and as long as she fulfils the conditions of her status as a Highly Skilled Migrant.

Mrs Andala’s old and new employer must both inform the Dutch Immigration and Naturalisation Service (IND) about her change of employment.

Obligations in Example 2

When a Highly Skilled Migrant changes employer there are certain obligations the involved parties must meet:

Mrs Andala must ensure that her new employment contract immediately follows on from her previous contract to avoid an unemployment gap, which can cause loss of residency or affect eligibility for Dutch citizenship or permanent residency.

Employer A must inform the IND within 28 days about the termination of the employee’s contract by filling out a notification form.

Employer B must be a recognised sponsor and must inform the IND within 28 days about the new hire. Such a process incurs no extra legal fees.

The Highly Skilled Migrant Procedure

the Highly Skilled Migrant Procedure (HSMP) is a time- and cost-effective manner for bringing skilled personnel to the Netherlands.

Many companies choose to register with the Dutch immigration department (IND) (Immigratie- en Naturalisatiedienst), as a recognised sponsor in order to use the "fast-track" immigration procedure, with a two-week processing time for approval from the IND.

Salary requirements for Highly Skilled Migrants in 2016

  Monthly salary (gross)
Post-graduate € 2.228
Under 30 years € 3.108
Over 30 years € 4.240

HSMP application fees as of 2017

Highly Skilled Migrant procedure costs are:
Company access to HSMP: € 5.183 (one-time fee)
Small company access to HSMP: € 2.592 (one-time reduced fee for companies employing less than 50 people)
Legal fees for an HSM application: € 910

Example 3: US citizen, intra-company transferee

Mr Anderson accepted the offer of an international assignment and came to the Netherlands via an intra-company transfer (ICT) from the United States. Since then, he has worked for Company A for nearly three years.

One day, Mr Anderson decides to quit his job at Company A and to start working at Company B in a higher position. Is he allowed to stay in the Netherlands and work for Company B after cancelling his employment at Company A?

Yes, Mr Anderson is allowed to stay in the Netherlands and work for Company B - if IND and UWV requirements are met.

Obligations in Example 3

Among other things, Company B has to prove that it has been unable to find suitable personnel in the Netherlands or EU for Mr Anderson's role.

As this is a challenging task, there are two possibilities for Mr Anderson to stay in the Netherlands and to work for Company B:

If he continues to work for Company A for three full working years, Mr Anderson has the right to work in the Netherlands without having to apply for another work permit, thus he can change employer. Still, he needs to extend his residence permit which can take up to three months to be approved.

If Company B is a recognised sponsor in the HSMP, Mr Anderson’s status can be changed to HSM (instead of ICT). In this case the residence permit needs to be extended as well (if applicable).

Intra-Company Transfer procedure (ICT)

In most work-transfer cases, non-EU-nationals come to the Netherlands via an ICT procedure.

This is the least time-consuming procedure, although the employer must meet strict conditions, such as a minimum annual turnover, specific salary requirements and at least one branch in the Netherlands.

Before transferring an employee to the Netherlands, a company that fulfils the requirements must apply for both a residence permit with the IND and a work permit at the Dutch labour authority UWV (Uitvoeringsinstituut Werknemersverzekeringen).

New ICT directive introduced in 2016

In the Netherlands, the ICT procedure can follow one of three different programmes:
The EU ICT programme
The Dutch national Highly Skilled Migrant programme
The Dutch national ICT programme

On November 29, 2016, the Netherlands implemented a new EU directive (2016/44/EU) which prioritises the EU ICT programme over the Dutch national ICT and HSM programmes.

This means that successful ICT applications will increasingly receive EU ICT permits. However, the HSM programme will remain available for applications that fall outside the scope of the ICT directive.

Be aware of your individual situation

Despite the information given in this article, an employment contract may hold clauses which could make it difficult to follow the above stated procedures.

This can be due to possible restrictions concerning property rights, confidentiality and non-competition clauses.

Want to ensure a smooth job transition as an expat in the Netherlands?

Get advice tailored to your individual needs from Altair Global:
phone: +31 (0)70 324 2524
email: [email protected]

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Esmee Mos-van der Straeten


Esmee Mos-van der Straeten

Since 2012, Esmee has been the Managing Director of NOVA Relocation Group, currently known as Altair Global BV, after the acquisition of Altair Global earlier this year. She joined the...

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