Top 7 tips for highly skilled migrants
Top 7 tips for highly skilled migrants

Top 7 tips for highly skilled migrants changing jobs

As a highly skilled migrant in the Netherlands, your residence rights are often linked to your job. If your future plans include changing jobs, these 7 tips can help you to safeguard your future rights.

Top 7 tips

  1. Check your search period
  2. Find a recognised sponsor
  3. Notify the IND on time
  4. Consider your salary
  5. Don’t risk your 30% ruling
  6. Avoid a residence gap
  7. Prepare for civic integration

1 – Search period

As a highly skilled migrant, you are entitled to a search period of (maximum) three months. This search period allows you to find a new position as a highly skilled migrant working for another employer who is a recognised sponsor. Your search period starts on the day of termination of your employment and will not last longer than the duration of your highly skilled migrant residence permit.

– If your residence permit expires before that three month term, then the duration of your search period will be shorter.
– If your residence permit has been granted for the duration of your fixed term employment contract, your employment and your residence permit will likely end on the same date. In this case, you will have no search period.
– If your residence permit has a longer validity term than the search period, but you have not found a new position on time, the IND (Dutch Immigration and Naturalisation Service) will withdraw your residence permit after the search period ends.

If you are concerned that you will not have a search period, or that you will not find a position during your search period, please contact us for advice.

2 – Recognised sponsor (Dutch employer)

Like your (former) employer, your new employer must be an IND recognised sponsor. IND publishes the register of recognised sponsors on its website. Simply Google “IND + recognised sponsor”. Ensure that you are checking the highly skilled migrants register, as there are other registers as well.

If your employer changes due to, for example, a transfer of undertakings, please note that the recognised sponsorship does not automatically transfer to the new (formal) employer. If your employment agreement transfers to an employer who is not yet a recognised sponsor, this could result in IND withdrawing your residence permit.

This may apply, even if you continue to do the same work in the same place. Employers do not always consider this, so keep a close eye yourself, and if you are uncertain, seek legal advice.

Is your new employer not a recognised sponsor yet, but willing to become one? Contact me for assistance.

3 – Notification

Both you and your employer are obliged to notify IND of all changes that relate to the validity of your residence permit. The end of your employment is such an important change.

– Both you and your (former) employer are responsible for notifying the IND that your employment will end, and
– Both you and your new employer are responsible for notifying the IND that you have found new employment as a highly skilled migrant.

These notifications to the IND must be done within four weeks.

4 – Salary criteria

The salary criteria for a highly skilled migrant per January 2020 are the following:

– Highly skilled migrant 30 or older: EURO 4,612 gross per month excluding 8% holiday allowance;
– Highly skilled migrant under 30: EURO 3,381 gross per month excluding 8% holiday allowance;

A third category exists for highly skilled migrants with a reduced salary criterion: EURO 2,423 gross per month excluding 8% holiday allowance – but this requires the highly skilled migrant to meet a number of additional criteria and conditions.

Meeting the criteria as a highly skilled migrant requires not only that the salary from your new employment meets the minimum amount; it also needs to be on market terms. If your salary is not market-related, IND can deny the application or withdraw your residence permit, even with retroactive effect.

Always verify that the amounts you receive each month comply with the salary criteria for highly skilled migrants. The IND can check every payment that your employer makes to you, and if the amounts are insufficient, this can pose a threat to your residence permit.

5 – “30% ruling”

The so-called “30% ruling” is a payment for extraterritorial costs. Instead of reimbursing the actual costs, an employer can choose to pay you 30% of your wages tax-free. This could apply if you are eligible for this ruling.

This blog does not discuss the conditions for this ruling; it tackles the risks at the termination of employment.

Both garden leave and a search period can cause a loss of entitlement to this important scheme. The arrangements that you and your employer make about termination of employment should therefore take your entitlement to the 30% ruling into account.

If a termination is unavoidable, please contact us as soon as possible to discuss your options.

6 – Residence gap

Avoid a residence gap in any way you can. Unfortunately, there is seldom a cure for a residence gap.

A residence gap could cause you to lose any entitlement to a lower salary criterion. On top of that, you need to have consecutive five years of stay in the Netherlands if you want to apply for an indefinite term residence permit or if you would consider applying for nationality.

Pay special attention when your employer applies for a renewal of your residence permit. This application can be done three months before expiry of your residence permit. The latest date is one day before expiry.

Note that your residence permit holds a “valid till” date and not a “valid up to and inclusive” date. You will not be the first very unfortunate expat who finds out that their employer has caused a residence gap due to filing the application one day too late.

7 – “Inburgering” or civic integration

Do not underestimate the importance of civic integration, especially if you intend to stay in the Netherlands for a longer period of time, or perhaps even indefinitely.

Remember that for as long as you are a highly skilled migrant and you have not yet passed the civic exam, you cannot apply for an indefinite term residence permit in the Netherlands. During this time, you remain dependent on your employer to apply for an extension of your permit.

People often only realise when it is almost too late, that they should have taken action about the civic integration much earlier. Do not delay; you may regret it.

Don’t give up – get expert help

I understand that it can be difficult to understand Dutch law and what it means in practical terms. As an expat, you need to consider both employment law and immigration law, which makes it more complicated.

Advice from a legal expert makes it much simpler – but which type of lawyer: employment or immigration? It rarely happens that an expert in immigration law is fully aware of the conventions of employment laws. And it is rarely the case that an employment lawyer knows the latest developments in immigration laws.

For your benefit, I focus on both areas of law.

So if you have any questions about one of the topics above, please contact me; I will be happy to help.