How to become a permanent resident or citizen of the Netherlands
Everaert Advocaten is a respected leader in Dutch migration law. Based in Amsterdam, its multilingual team advises expats on residency and migration-related legal issues.
You can apply for a permanent residence permit or Dutch citizenship after five years of uninterrupted legal stay in the Netherlands based on EU law or national law.
EU permanent residence permit
When you apply for a permanent residence permit, your application is first checked against the European requirements for third-country nationals. If your application does not meet these requirements, a national permanent residence permit will be considered instead.
With an EU residence permit it is easier to move to most other EU countries. To obtain this status, you must have held a residence permit for a non-temporary purpose for a minimum period of five consecutive years. An exchange period is temporary and does not count.
If you studied in the Netherlands, half of that study period will be counted towards the five years. For example, if this study period was two years, it counts as one year and you need to have stayed here for five years in total.
Furthermore, you must have sufficient long-term income, you may not have a criminal record and you need to have passed the civic integration exam, unless an exception applies.
Mind the gap
It is extremely important to apply for an extension of your residence permit in plenty of time before it expires, in order to avoid a residency gap. It's recommended to apply for the extension three months before it expires.
If there is a gap in your legal status during the five-year period, even if it is just a single day, the period before this residency gap will be lost.
That means you will have to start over from the beginning with building up a five-year uninterrupted period in the Netherlands.
This rule does not apply if you were allowed to stay in the Netherlands under circumstances other than a non-temporary residence permit.
For example, if you were awaiting a decision about an application (procedural legal stay) or if you had a temporary residence permit. In this scenario, only the period of the gap is deducted from the five-year period.
National permanent residence permit
If your application does not yet meet the requirements of the EU permanent residence permit, you may be eligible for a national permanent residence permit.
Although the requirements are similar, the most important difference is that all consecutive residence permits in the past (temporary and non-temporary) add up to collectively create the five-year period.
This is an advantage, especially for ex-students who do not want to wait any longer for permanent status. However, from the moment of the application and until the decision is made, you must hold a non-temporary residence permit.
Stricter gap policy
The disadvantage of this residence permit is the more restrictive gap policy. If there was any period within the five-year period that you did not have a residence permit, even if you were legally awaiting a decision, a residence permit would not be granted.
The five-year count would start all over again once you have obtained a new residence permit.
With both types of residence permits, you are entitled to stay permanently in the Netherlands with free access to the labour market, without being tied to an employer or partner.
After several years of legal stay in the Netherlands, you can also choose to become a Dutch citizen through naturalisation.
In order to apply, you must have:
› resided legally in the Netherlands for a minimum of five consecutive years without any gap
› passed the integration exam
› have no criminal record
Furthermore, you need to be prepared to renounce your original nationality, unless an exception applies. The term for naturalisation may be raised from five to seven years in the future.
Naturalisation of partners
Naturalisation for partners of Dutch nationals is possible after three years of marriage or living together, along with lawful residency in the Netherlands. Married partners are sometimes able to include the years they stayed abroad.
Dutch nationality can also be acquired by option, intended for individuals with a special bond with the Netherlands. In comparison to the naturalisation procedure, this option is faster, costs less and an integration exam is not required. This applies, for example, if you are 18 or over, were born in the Netherlands and you have legally lived here continuously since you were born, or if you have lived in the Netherlands since the age of 4.
After obtaining Dutch citizenship you can apply for a Dutch passport. Furthermore, you have the right to vote in the elections for Dutch parliament.
Need specific advice?
If you have additional questions about the conditions, advantages and disadvantages of becoming a Dutch citizen and/or obtaining a permanent residence permit, it's a good idea to discuss this with a specialised immigration lawyer.