Highly Skilled Migrant


Highly Skilled Migrant Programme

The Dutch Highly Skilled Migrant Programme (Kennismigrantenregeling) offers an attractive option for companies that require hiring personnel from non-EU countries. Qualifying companies can apply for a combined work- and residence permit for their employees and these permits should typically be granted within a two weeks’ time-frame.

Highly Skilled Migrant permit

To be able to file a Highly Skilled Migrant (HSM) permit on behalf of an employee, a company must first obtain recognized sponsor status. The one-off fee for enrolment is €5,345 in 2018. For small companies (less than 50 employees) and start-ups, a reduced fee of €2,672 in 2018 applies. For companies that currently have the recognized sponsorship status but need to apply again because of a change in their legal form, the reduced fee of €2,672 also applies.

Applying for a Highly Skilled Migrant permit

An employer can file an application on behalf of the Highly Skilled Migrant. The assessment by the Dutch immigration services (IND) is primarily salary based. In 2018, the following monthly salary thresholds apply:

  • Migrants aged 30 years and up: €4,612
  • Migrants younger than 30 years: €3,381
  • Migrants who recently graduated in the Netherlands €2,423
    or who hold a search year permit

These amounts are exclusive of 8% holiday allowance and are indexed on an annual basis (every 1st of January).

Please note that the stated salary amounts must be in conformity with market standards and CBA’s (collective bargaining agreements) as well.

Highly Skilled Migrant permit versus Intra-Corporate Transfer permit

It is not possible to apply for a Highly Skilled Migrant permit when the application falls within the scope of the Intra-Corporate Transfer Directive (ICT Directive): there is no element of choice here. The applicant whose situation falls within the scope of the ICT Directive will either receive an ICT permit if all conditions are met, or the application will be rejected all together.

Both types of permits have their advantages and disadvantages. The ICT permit makes it easier to transfer an employee within the EU, but it cannot be extended after three years. The HSM permit does not provide its holder with EU mobility rights, but it can be extended after three years and its holder can build up rights in the Netherlands.

Postings of employees who are placed on a local Dutch employment contract do not fall under the scope of the ICT Directive and therefore may still qualify for a Highly Skilled Migrant permit.

The future of the HSM programme

The European Commission has proposed a new EU Blue Card Scheme. The EU Blue Card Scheme currently exists in parallel to the HSM programme, but as the Blue Card is considered less attractive than the HSM permit, the Blue Card is currently hardly used in the Netherlands. The Commission has announced its intention to change the existing EU Blue Card Scheme and replace it with an EU-wide scheme for highly skilled third-country nationals. If the proposal is accepted in its current form, the Dutch HSM scheme will be abolished. It is, however, possible that the proposal will not be accepted in its entirety, in which case the two schemes may continue to co-exist. Valegis will closely monitor the developments with respect to the EU Blue Card and the Dutch HSM programme.

Our advice to you

If you have plans to hire several migrants from abroad, the HSM scheme may be just the right option for you. If you only wish to hire one or two migrants in the coming years, other options may be more attractive to you considering the enrolment fee of the HSM scheme.

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