Hiring non-EU employees to become more difficult next year

Starting next year, it will become more difficult for employers to hire employees from outside the European Union, because the new cabinet has agreed to tighten up the Foreign Nationals Employment Act.

The cabinet is changing the rules because they find it undesirable that employees from outside the EU are employed in the Netherlands, while there are still half a million people on unemployment who are capable of working.

Work permits
The Foreign Nationals Employment Act (Wet Arbeid Vreemdelingen, or WAV) outlines the rules for permitting foreigners to work in the Netherlands. Besides those with Dutch nationality, citizens of the member countries of the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland are freely permitted to work in the Netherlands.

Those without one of these nationalities can only work in the Netherlands if they have a note on their resident permit and their passport stating "Work is freely permitted. Work permit not required" (Arbeid wel toegestaan; tewerkstellingsvergunning niet vereist), OR if their employer has a valid work permit for them.

However, obtaining a regular work permit for a non-EU employee is far from easy. For example, one provision of the WAV requires employers to actively recruit in the Netherlands and other EU countries (and prove it) before they are permitted to hire a non-EU employee.

Note that working in the Netherlands under a regular work permit is subject to different rules and regulations than working as a highly skilled migrant, and that the rule changes below refer to regular work permits.

Rule changes
The new agreement stipulates that a work permit for non-EU nationals will only be valid for one year from now on, rather than its current maximum of 3 years, and a permit can now be refused if an employer has been convicted for violating labour legislation in the past, such as the Working Conditions Act.

From next year, the WAV will require employers to pay wages that are in line with the market. When employers in a sector do not make a sufficient effort to find Dutch employees or employees from inside the European Union, the minister will be able to set a quota for that sector.

Moreover, an employee from outside the EU will only be allowed to work without a permit after having worked in the Netherlands for five years. Currently this period is three years.

Carly Blair


Carly Blair



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