Changing your job as an expat? Secure your residency in the Netherlands!
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Careers are always in motion. You may be offered a challenging new job, or your employer may be suddenly facing difficulties and therefore end your contract.
For expats who have a permit dependent on their current employer: be aware that a job change does not only affect your career, but may affect your residence status in the Netherlands.
Small mistakes by a new employer can have far-reaching consequences: it may lead to a withdrawal of your residence permit with retrospective effect and/or cause a "residency gap".
This article sets out some pointers that will hopefully help avoid issues with your residence permit.
Three-month search period
Expats with a valid permit to work as a highly skilled migrant are given three months to look for a new job, without the risk of losing their permit.
The benefits of this search period have recently been extended. Since 1 July 2016 all highly skilled migrants are given three months to find a new job.
Before that date only highly skilled migrants who lost their job at the employer’s initiative, and who could not be blamed for the termination, were given three months to find new work.
Search periods and the EU Blue Card
Expats holding an EU Blue Card will not lose their permit if the period of unemployment does not exceed three consecutive months. This means that EU Blue Card holders also have three months to find employment, irrespective of the reason why their former job was terminated.
In the Dutch Aliens Act Implementation Guidelines, the search period is limited to situations where the employment contract has been terminated at the initiative of the employer.
This contrasts with the wording of the EU Blue Card Directive however, which states that a three-month period of unemployment cannot lead to withdrawal of a permit, irrespective of the reason for unemployment.
The situation limitation in the Guidelines, therefore, does not seem to be correct.
Found a new job? Make sure you meet all requirements
A residence permit can only be continuously extended if, within the three-month search period, an employment contract is concluded that fulfills all the requirements of either the highly skilled migrant scheme or the EU Blue Card.
Although most employers will be aware of the requirements, it is advisable to double check this yourself, given the potentially far-reaching consequences.
Requirements for ongoing residency
The following three factors are some of the key issues of which you should be aware when changing jobs.
› Contract start date
You should ensure that the employment contract starts before the end of the three-month search period. A contract starting after the three-month search period might cause a residency gap.
The consequence of a gap is that the period of legal residence in the Netherlands before this gap will not be taken into account. This means that you will have to start again in building up a five-year uninterrupted period in the Netherlands to obtain permanent residency.
However, a gap does not pose a problem if you were allowed to stay in the Netherlands during the period you were not in a possession of a residence permit.
This is the case, for example, if you have applied for the extension of the permit before the three-month search period has ended. In that situation, only the period of the gap is deducted from the five-year period. However, it remains a problem if you are interested in obtaining Dutch citizenship.
For Dutch citizenship, it is necessary that the applicant has been in continuous possession of a residence permit.
› Permit requirements: employer must be a recognised sponsor
Only an employer who is recognised as a sponsor by the Immigration and Naturalisation Service (IND) can obtain a highly skilled migrant permit for his employee.
Therefore, if you have found a new employer, you should confirm whether he is recognised as a sponsor. You can check whether your employer is recognised via the IND public register.
This list is not always up to date, so it’s advisable to confirm with your employer as well. There are some instances where it might be obvious that the company is allowed to hire highly skilled migrants, but in other instances it can be more difficult to determine.
For example, if the current company goes bankrupt and its successor company takes over your employment contract, the successor is not necessarily recognised as a sponsor as well. The successor company must also become a recognised sponsor first.
› Salary must meet income requirements
It is also important to check that the salary accepted for a new job still meets the income requirements for highly skilled migrants or EU Blue Card holders.
If, for example, you have earned a salary with your former job that meets the income requirement for highly skilled migrants younger than 30, and you change the job after you have turned 30, the new employer must pay you the salary applicable to highly skilled migrants for 30 years and older.
If you have accepted a lower salary for the new job, please make sure that this salary still meets the income requirements.
Companies applying for an EU Blue Card for their employees do not need to be a recognised sponsor. However, it is important to check whether your salary still meets the income requirements for EU Blue Card holders.
Seek legal guidance if necessary
If one of the requirements are not met, there is a risk that your permit will be retrospectively withdrawn until the end of the search period, or the end of your contract with the former employer.
Considering the potentially far-reaching consequences of changing your job for your residency status in the Netherlands, it is advisable to discuss your new employment contract with a specialised immigration lawyer.
Need guidance on changing jobs and residence permits? Kroes Advocaten is more than happy to advise you on your specific situation.
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