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EP Advisory

Moving to the Netherlands in 2023: How to obtain a residence permit and build an international career in one of Europe's most prosperous countries

Job abroad

A high standard of living, developed culture, and social guarantees – yes, all of this is about the Netherlands.

Borders are closed, foreign bank cards have been cancelled, visas are no longer being issued... Or are they? Specialists from EP Advisory explain what to do if it seems like you can't immigrate, but you really want to.

Bicycles, canals, historic buildings, and modern technology – all of this is the Netherlands. A small European country with limitless opportunities.

Pros and Cons

Let's start with the main point: it's not necessary to know Dutch to move to the Netherlands. Local residents, especially in Amsterdam, speak English fluently. Of course, there may be some culture shock, but knowing the language that we've been learning since elementary school will smooth the adaptation process.

Most companies in the Netherlands operate on the international market. So, having a good command of English is sufficient for successful employment.

In Dutch corporate culture, work-life balance is highly valued. For example, with the agreement of your employer, you can finish your workday earlier. And on sunny days, take a half-day off and spend it with your family. Or negotiate a shorter workweek: working four days a week for nine hours each day is very common here.

Housing in the Netherlands is not very cheap, but salaries correspond to the cost of living. According to data from the Dutch Central Planning Bureau, the average salary in the country in 2022 is about 2,152 euros per month after taxes.

But let's not idealise the Netherlands too much. You may find the  local residents hard to relate to: they are very straightforward. If you are used to a different culture, it may take some time to adjust.

"Dutch people communicate openly, both in their personal lives and at work. They might approach you and say, 'The report is no good; it needs to be redone.'

But it doesn't mean they are complaining about your work because they will offer you help in the next moment. Such openness can be unsettling at first, but then you  get used to it and appreciate communication without hidden agendas."

Andrey Logvinenko, EP Advisory Consultant

With employment sorted out, what about leisure? Those who love travelling and activities will enjoy it here. You can easily travel to Germany or Belgium for the weekend. Alternatively, you can explore local streets and go for a bike ride. Despite a developed transportation network, bicycles remain the primary means of getting around in cities.

The Netherlands provides all the opportunities for a high-quality life, relaxation, and career development.

Visas and Residence Permits

To obtain a residence permit in the Netherlands, foreigners from Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus must have a valid reason for moving.

The most common reasons for obtaining a residence permit are employment, education, and business. After five years of residence in the country, you can apply for permanent residence.

Applications for residence permits in the Netherlands are handled by the local Immigration and Naturalization Service (IND). While IND processes a long-term residence permit, Russians and CIS citizens are granted an MVV visa for entry, which is valid for three months. Let's explore the working visas available in the Netherlands.

Single Permit (GVVA) Visa

For employment, foreigners from outside the EU or Switzerland must obtain a Single Permit (GVVA) – a document that combines a residence permit and a work permit. It is required if you intend to work in the country for more than three months.

First, your prospective employer submits an application for an employment permit (the first part of the Single Permit) if all necessary conditions are met:

  • You have a contract with a local employer for at least 12 months.
  • Your future income level meets the government's requirements.
  • Your employer was unable to find a suitable candidate among EU or Swiss citizens. The vacancy was open for at least 5 weeks or 3 months for certain complex fields, but there were no suitable candidates.

After obtaining an employment permit, you can apply for a visa.

If your employer is not accustomed to dealing with work permits, you can learn the entire procedure and handle part of it yourself.

Who Doesn't Need to Get a GVVA?

  • Blue Card holders;
  • Graduates of Dutch universities with the right to seek employment under the Orientation Year program;
  • Entrepreneurs with a startup visa;
  • Family members of residence permit holders in the Netherlands with the right to work.

Relaxed rules also apply to students combining studies with 16 hours of work per week, interns, artists, religious workers, and refugees.

Highly skilled migrant (Kennismigrant)

This is a national program for highly skilled professionals and one of the most popular work visas in the Netherlands. The highly skilled migrant visa is issued for 5 years and is available for a wide range of professions, including IT specialists such as programmers, analysts, architects, engineers, as well as other in-demand fields like marketing and recruitment.

There are two key requirements for this program:

  • A corresponding salary level, which depends on the employee's age and is indexed annually. €4,840 per month for individuals over 30 or €3,549 for those under 30. If you have completed a long-term course at a university within the last three years, there is a chance to meet the requirement of €2,543 (condition: you must meet requirements similar to those for the Orientation Year visa).
  • The company you intend to work for must have special accreditation to hire foreign workers. You can find a list of such employers on the IND website. Of course, the employer can choose to apply for this licence specifically for you (such cases have occurred!).

Blue Card

The Blue Card is a residence and work permit in one of the EU member states for highly qualified professionals from the developing world. Denmark and Ireland are not included in the list of countries.

The Blue Card is intended for highly qualified professionals who have completed a university degree program lasting at least 3 years. Plus, the salary requirements for the EU Blue Card are even higher than those for the Highly Skilled Migrant visa – €5,670 per month before taxes for most professions.

The Blue Card does not offer any special advantages compared to the local Highly Skilled Migrant system, with one exception – if you plan to move to another EU country to live and work soon.

In that case, the time you spend in the Netherlands on a Blue Card will be combined with years of work and residence under this visa in another country, allowing you to obtain permanent residency without additional delays.

To obtain the Blue Card, you need:

  • An employment contract with a duration of at least one year.
  • A specified salary level. In the Netherlands, it's €68,040 per year before taxes, or €58,080 for some professions.
  • A diploma from a higher education institution. If you obtained your higher education outside the Netherlands, you need to have it validated by Nuffic.
  • Qualification confirmation if required (for doctors, lawyers, etc.).

Orientation Year for Graduates Visa

Certainly, you can also get a student visa for education in the Netherlands. After completing a Dutch university program, students can apply for the Orientation Year for Highly Educated Persons within three years. This program allows you to seek employment in the Netherlands for a year.

Entrepreneur Permit Visa

This is a startup visa for those planning to launch their own innovative business in the Netherlands. Immigrants working on their projects must do so with a mentor. If the project is successfully implemented, the foreigner gains the right to obtain a residence permit after a year.

Essential Start-Up Personnel Visa

This is a pilot program that lasts only four years, from June 1, 2021, to June 1, 2025. Growing innovative startups can attract employees from around the world.

Both beginners and experienced professionals are welcome. The visa is issued for 4 years.

Self-Employed Visa

This program is for self-employed entrepreneurs in the Netherlands and is issued for two years with the possibility of extension. To obtain the visa, you need to prepare a business plan consisting of your professional experience, the nature of your activities, and your contribution to the country's economy. The plan is evaluated on a points-based system, with a minimum of 30 points required for each section of the plan.

Research Permit

As the name suggests, this visa is for researchers and scientists. It is issued for up to 5 years and does not require as high a salary as the EU Blue Card, for example.

Intra-Corporate Transferee

This is applicable when you are transferring to a Dutch office within the same company. Similar to the Highly Skilled Migrant visa, your employer must sponsor the visa.

Moving for Education

This is one of the optimal immigration options to the Netherlands from Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus. Additionally, it offers the opportunity to obtain a prestigious degree recognized worldwide and start an international career.

After graduation, graduates have one year to find a job in the Netherlands.

Local universities offer a wide range of English-taught educational programs. For example, RSM, one of the best business schools in Europe, offers various undergraduate and master's programs, including MBA, Executive Education, and PhD.

On average, the cost of tuition for foreign students ranges from 6,000 to 20,000 euros per year, and the most talented students may be eligible for scholarships.

One of the most well-known scholarship programs is the Orange Tulip Scholarship. Fourteen universities across the country offer 40+ grants for various specialisations, from economics to medicine.

Other popular scholarships are listed on the Study in Holland website, where you can also find general information about studying in the Netherlands.

For admission to universities, IELTS or TOEFL scores are required almost everywhere. Currently, taking these tests in Russia and Ukraine is not possible, but there are other options:

  • Take the test in another country, such as Turkey or Kazakhstan.
  • Contact the university and request to substitute an alternative exam. Some universities may accept the Duolingo English Test.
  • Request permission to defer the language exam and take it upon arrival in the destination country.

Paying for the language exam can also be challenging, but there are solutions. One option is to pay in the national currency of the testing centre in cash. However, different centres may have different rules, so it's advisable to thoroughly review all the information at the booking stage.

Another option is to open a local bank account in the country where you plan to take the exam. For example, Russian tourists can open accounts with Kuveyt Turk bank in Turkey or with Altyn-i, Kaspi bank, or Freedom Finance Bank in Kazakhstan.

Relocating to the Netherlands for work: how to find job vacancies and obtain an offer?

Many people believe that since February 2022, there are almost no opportunities for employment abroad, but that's not the case at all.

If you already have work experience, and your profession is in demand, you can confidently expect to obtain a Highly Skilled Migrant visa or a Blue Card. Among the common professions are not only IT specialists but also marketers, professionals in logistics, energy, creative fields, and others.

It may be more challenging for specialists whose work is closely tied to a specific language, such as editors or copywriters, to find employment. To increase your chances of employment, it's advisable to work on skills in related fields, such as learning about targeted advertising or trying your hand at SMM (Social Media Marketing) and PR.

Another way of immigrating to the Netherlands, available to Russian-speaking professionals from many countries, is internal company relocation. Many international companies have offices in the country. Some obvious examples include Big4 and Big3 consulting firms, Heineken, and Relocating is often easier for mid-level and senior professionals with in-demand skills, such as developers or UX designers.

Ways to Find a Job in the Netherlands

Job Search Websites

The most common options that work throughout Europe are:

Local portals include:

Even more job opportunities for Ukrainian, Russian, and Belarusian workers can be found on the EURES portal (a platform for European job mobility).

Recruitment Agencies

Here are three examples of recruitment agencies in the Netherlands where you can submit your resume:

Social Media: LinkedIn and Facebook

Searching through social media can be more effective than using career websites.

Follow the pages of companies you find interesting and join thematic communities. Keep an eye on news and announcements, and don't forget to share your own experiences.

Analyse cases and engage with colleagues – one professional comment can catch a recruiter's attention and lead to further communication.

Try to find acquaintances and former colleagues who could recommend you for a position in your desired company. In Europe, employment is often based on networking and a recommendation system.

Letters to Recruiters

Don't hesitate to write to recruiters or even company leaders in the companies where you would like to work, even if there are no current vacancies. Perhaps, a little later, once a suitable position becomes available, they will get back to you with an offer.

You can find the recruiter's contact on the company's website or using services like Hunter by entering the company's domain.

For your letter, 5-7 sentences and an attached resume should be sufficient. Don't drag it out; briefly explain the value you can bring to the company.

Networking Offline

Attend thematic events, engage, and make new connections. You can find such gatherings on special Telegram channels or on the Meetup website.

Improving Your Resume

How can you create an effective resume that won't be put aside with hundreds of others by recruiters?

Your resume should have a minimalist style: use a single font and divide the text into blocks. This may seem basic, but many job seekers underestimate the importance of a harmonious layout and overdo it with creativity.

Simplicity is key: avoid bright colours, graphical elements like stars, underlines, etc.

Measure seven times, cut once: make sure to check your resume for grammatical errors. You can use services like Grammarly for proofreading.

Fill in your resume in such a way that a recruiter can understand who you are and what you do within the first 10 seconds. Review the main requirements for the job positions and create a list of keywords that you can use in your description. For example, if the job posting for a marketer mentions "performance," that word should be in your resume as well. The more such matches, the easier it will be for the recruiter on the employer's side to understand that you are the right fit for the job.

Include not only responsibilities but also achievements following the structure "skill - activity - result." For example: "Created a landing page with a 50% conversion rate, bringing the company an additional $100,000 in revenue."

Important: save your resume with your name in PDF format to ensure that the formatting remains the same when opened on different devices. For example: Anna Kulikova.pdf.

Applying for a Job in the Netherlands

The most important thing when applying is to slightly adapt your resume to match the style of each job posting. To do this:

  • List the specific requirements mentioned in the job posting.
  • Highlight relevant achievements from your previous positions.
  • Write a cover letter or at least a brief message demonstrating your interest in the vacancy and your value.

An example of the logic for a cover text in an email: "Hello. I know that you are currently planning to launch your product in the German market. I can assist you with this as I have been involved in launching projects in foreign markets for 2 years and am familiar with all the stages of this process. I also have a background in financial planning, which is necessary for this position – it was through planning that I managed to reduce Company X's expenses to a third during a rebranding in another country. I have attached my resume; please let me know when it would be convenient for you to have a call?"

Job Search Is Also Work

In a job search, consistency is key. Dedicate specific time to it, such as half an hour a day on weekdays and several hours on weekends.

Don't send hundreds of identical applications; it's better to focus on quality over quantity. Additionally, it's a good idea to keep a spreadsheet with all your applications so that you don't get confused during a recruiter's call and wonder, "Did I even apply there?"

Be prepared for rejections

Rejections are inevitable, but they are not a reason to be disheartened. On average, out of 300 applications, only 10% of companies will respond with an interview offer. Be patient and keep searching.

Receiving rejection after rejection? Analyse your applications and work on improving them. You can also request feedback from recruiters. Write a short email like, "Hello! Feedback from you would greatly help me in my professional development. Can we have a five-minute call?"

How to Ace Interviews?

Interviews are one of the most stressful stages of job hunting in the Netherlands.

On the EP Advisory YouTube channel, you can find common mistakes made by job seekers and life hacks on how to avoid them.

What should you do before a job interview?

  • Create a list of the most common questions and think about how to answer them. These questions could be about your weaknesses, why you left your previous job, and how you would be valuable in the new position. Your answers shouldn't be too lengthy; aim for around a minute.
  • Do additional research about the company and prepare 2-3 deep questions to ask the recruiter. This will show even greater interest in the vacancy.
  • Brush up on the general vocabulary related to your profession. In stressful situations, even the most obvious information can slip your mind.

"By the way, you're not the only one answering questions here. An interview is not a quiz; it's a two-way process. Your future boss also wants to gather information and understand if this role and company are a good fit for you. So, think in advance about what you want to ask the employer and what you want to get from the job beyond just money: colleagues, tasks, career growth, corporate values. Moreover, interesting questions will emphasise your engagement in the process, and that will certainly be noticed by the employer."

Andrey Logvinenko, EP Advisory Consultant

Source: EP Advisory