The ‘Golden Visa’ for foreign investors in the Netherlands
The Expat Management Group (EMG) is a dynamic international legal service provider specialized in corporate and private immigration to the Netherlands, offering a personal approach to its clients.
Since October 1, 2013, a residence permit can be obtained in the Netherlands as a private foreign investor. The program aims to attract foreign investors to bring substantial capital to the Netherlands to boost the Dutch economy.
Currently, the residence permit will be issued for 12 months and is extendable. It’s called the Dutch Investor Visa for High Net Worth Individuals, or HNWI.
Main investment conditions
Foreign nationals can qualify for this type of residence permit in four different ways. A personal investment in the Netherlands of at least 1.250.000 euros of a non-fraudulent nature needs to be invested in one of the following manners:
1) an innovative company
2) a cooperation fund which contributes to the growth of one or more innovative companies
3) a seed fund which is recognized by the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affair
4) a participation fund which is part of the Dutch Cooperation of Participation Society (Nederlandse Vereniging van Participatiemaatschappijen (NVP)
The amount to be invested must be put into a Dutch bank account or a bank of another EU Member State which has offices in the Netherlands and is under the auspices of a Dutch bank.
Assessment of the investment
Under this immigration application, the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO) will provide advice to the Dutch Immigration Authorities (IND) assessing whether the investment of the innovative company or the investment of the cooperation fund has added value to the Dutch economy.
If an investment will be made under either option 1 or 2, the RVO will review the innovative character of the company and whether the investment is sustainable and has sufficient positive effects for the Dutch economy, including labor creation. This will be assessed on the basis of a point-based system.
Should a HNWI invest in a recognized seed fund or a participation fund as per option 3 or 4, the investment is considered to have sufficient positive impact and added value to the Dutch economy. The RVO will therefore not be involved in any further point-based assessment.
Background checks and money laundering
A crucial element is that the foreign national needs to consent to any background checks of the Dutch authorities with a view to the money to be invested to avoid money laundering.
The Dutch Immigration Authorities work together with the Financial Intelligence Unit Nederland (FIU) which tracks the origin of the invested money. Only upon a positive confirmation from the FIU that the money is not considered to be of fraudulent origin, the IND can proceed.
In case the FIU cannot clearly determine the origin, the IND will not approve the immigration application. Moreover, if the FIU considers the amount to be "fraudulent", investigations will be initiated accordingly.
Few "Golden" residence permits approved so far
Since the introduction of this new program only a very small number of applications have been filed, and nearly all were rejected or cancelled.
Very recently, Mr. Dominique Coenen, partner at EMG, successfully assisted an Asian private investor who was willing to contribute 1,25 million euros. As a result, the HNWI obtained the second Dutch residence permit as a wealthy foreign investor in the Netherlands.
More stringent requirements than other countries
According to Mr. Coenen, the current Dutch program has serious shortcomings which can be mainly attributed to the thorough assessment criteria and practical difficulties in the immigration application.
Other EU countries with "Golden Visa" programs are more conducive in that regard. For instance, EMG’s immigration partners in Malta, Portugal, Spain and Cyprus obtain Golden Visas or even citizenship under less strict conditions.
In the Netherlands the procedure is very lengthy and there are a lot of practical administrative burdens to take care of while being abroad (such as opening a bank account in the Netherland as a non-resident).
In addition, due to the fact that the FIU is not able to operate in all countries, applications (or nationals) from these countries will be automatically excluded from successfully applying under this the immigration category.
Upcoming changes and new rules
Since July 1, 2016 the conditions for this application immigration category have become more flexible in an attempt to attract more foreign capital and such types of investments by wealthy individuals in the Netherlands.
› Longer issuance
Under the facilitated rules a residence permit is issued for 3 years instead of one year ensuring more legal certainty for the foreign investors’ residence status.
› No accountancy declaration needed
An accountancy declaration is redundant but the Dutch Immigration Authorities (IND) will continue to scrutinize the investment in cooperation with the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU).
› Creation of growth main criteria
Under the previous points system, most points were awarded for the innovative character of the investment. Since July 2016, more emphasis is put on the essential contribution to the Dutch economy in a broader sense, and labor creation is considered more valuable for the assessment.
As previously an amount of 1.250.000 euros still needs to be invested. In principle, real estate investments are allowed but property investment for habitation purposes is excluded from the program.
Are you a HNWI?
If you wish to contribute a substantial investment of no less than 1.250.000 euros into the Dutch economy thereby obtaining a Dutch residence permit as an HNWI, contact EMG for more information on how to proceed.