Which visas do people visiting you in the Netherlands need?

Which visas do people visiting you in the Netherlands need?

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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. 

If you are an expat living in the Netherlands, you can invite people to visit you. Depending on their nationality, they might need a visa, and if the person is not from the EU, EEA or Switzerland, they must observe certain conditions.

Friends and family

Once you’ve settled in the Netherlands, you might want to invite friends or family to come over to visit you. This is allowed, but they do need to meet certain conditions. Their stay cannot exceed 90 days. One of the conditions is that they need a visa, unless their nationality is visa waived.

If they do need a visa, it is wise to start the application well before their travel date, because the application process takes some time: you must budget 15 days to sometimes even 3 months, depending on the country. In general, your invitees will need to prove:

  • That their social and economic ties with their home country are strong enough to guarantee a return
  • That they have sufficient financial means to provide for themselves during their stay in the Netherlands
  • That they possess a valid ID
  • That they have a travel reservation / ticket
  • That they have medical health insurance for the duration of the trip

Different types of visa

There are several kinds of visa which might suit your situation:

Single Entry Short stay visa, also called C-visa

Your friends or family need to apply for a visa at the Dutch embassy or consulate of the country in which they reside at that specific moment.

If they are going to stay in the Schengen area for just a few days – up to a maximum of 90 days, they can apply for a short stay, or C- visa. This will permit them to travel freely in the Schengen area during the visa's validity, for one journey only (single entry).

Multiple Entry Visa

If they want to make several separate visits to countries in the Schengen area throughout the 90 days they should consider applying for a multiple entry visa. However, this application requires some substantiating. You can only apply if you are a frequent traveller or you can prove that you need to travel frequently.

EU citizen family members

Travelling as a family member (partners and children) of an EU citizen is usually easier because other, less strict rules apply. This visa is usually granted quickly and is free of charge. However, it should be noted that this visa is normally meant to facilitate the traveller to apply for a residence permit stay in a particular Member State.

For this visa, the applicant must prove the following:

  • That he / she is an EU citizen's family member
  • That the EU citizen expat resides in, or moves to, a Member State other than the Member State of which he or she is a national
  • That the applicant will join the EU citizen in the Member State

Business visa

You could also invite a business partner to come over to the Netherlands, be it to exchange knowledge or explore possibilities to set up a business together in the future. Check whether the activity of the business trip is covered by the following exemptions.

In any other case, you need to apply for work authorisation – typically a work permit.

Examples of permissible business activities are:

  • Attending a business meeting or a training course
  • Purchase and sale of products, business transactions and tenders
  • Attending an exhibition, conference or seminar. Being involved in roles concerning the preparation, decoration and building of an exhibition or stand on behalf of a foreign principal is allowed
  • Diplomatic visit (diplomats)
  • Political visit
  • Study (less than 90 days)

Example: A spiritual leader from India was invited by the Lord Shiva Temple in Amsterdam to lead the festivities around a Hindu festival to honour the birth of Shiva. A visa application was made for the spiritual leader.

In this particular case, it was rejected because leading the festivities was interpreted as work. Therefore, IND, as well as the court, concluded that the visa was lawfully rejected since this spiritual leader needed to have a work permit.


Taking part in a cultural or sports event could also be a reason to invite someone to the Netherlands. 

Example: Visas were requested for wrestlers to be able to participate in a Kabadi tournament (Indian wrestling). The applicants were Kabadi players and were invited on behalf of a cultural foundation. They had participated before in the same capacity, but now the composition of the team was different. The IND rejected their visas but in this case, the court reversed that decision.


Artists could come to the Netherlands on a short stay visa even if they are coming to work. They are allowed to work for a period of up to six weeks without needing a work permit.


In the event that a visa application is rejected, you could file a complaint. There are several reasons that could lead to a visa application rejection. For example, you have submitted the wrong or incomplete documents, or the IND is not convinced of your guest's return to their home country after the expiry of their visa.

Visa applications must meet certain conditions and strict requirements. The idea behind this is to prevent illegal immigration and to promote legal immigration. Make sure that your friend or family member hands over adequate documents that prove their economic and social ties with their home country.

Providing enough money to finance their stay could also be relevant if the applicant does not have sufficient funds to pay for their stay in the Netherlands.

If you have any questions about inviting a friend or family member to the Netherlands, choosing the right visa for your situation, or how to file a complaint if your visa application has been rejected, please contact Liesbeth Boon from Everaert Advocaten via email: [email protected] or phone: 020-7523200.



Liesbeth Boon

Liesbeth is an expert in the field of immigration law and specializes in family reunification, visa short stay, long term residency and EU based residence. Besides her broad knowledge of...

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Anatilia Mestre 09:15 | 2 October 2018

I have a question. Hopefully you can help me. Do we always have to ask for a verblijfsvergunning even if you have lived here nearly 16 years? I am a bit confused. Thank you in advance

LiesbethBoon 11:31 | 2 October 2018

Dear Anatilia, Please specify your question and send an email to: [email protected] Kind regards,