Types of Visa for Knowledge Migrants

As someone from outside the EU, you require one or more permits to work in the Netherlands. What are the various residence permits for work and to whom do they apply, and for how long?

Your employer in the Netherlands needs to apply for a residence permit if he intends to hire an employee from abroad. The residency permit your employer applies for may be a short-stay visa, a work permit for persons from outside the European Economic Area (TWV), a combined work and residence permit (GVVA) or an EU Blue Card. Let’s look at the most common types.

Short-stay visa

A short-stay visa grants you the right to stay in the Netherlands for a maximum of three months. This is ideal if you are coming to work as a highly skilled worker for a short period or visiting the Netherlands on business. You can apply for this visa from the Dutch Embassy in your country. The purpose of your trip must be clear. This visa is available to residents of almost 70 non-EU countries.

Provisional residence permit (MVV)

If you are from outside the EU and wish to stay in the Netherlands for longer than three months, you will need an ‘MVV’, or provisional residence permit. A residence permit can be applied for directly if you apply for this visa via the entry and residence procedure. You must indicate your purpose for being in the Netherlands.


TWV stands for employment permit for persons from outside the European Economic Area. Your employer can apply for a TWV from the Employee Insurance Agency (UWV). As part of the application procedure, your eligibility as a prospective employee who serves a ‘genuine Dutch interest’ will be assessed. In essence, this assessment considers whether your prospective employer really is unable to find suitable personnel in the Netherlands or elsewhere in the EU. A highly skilled migrant does not require a TWV.


GVVA stands for a combined residence and employment permit. An employer applies for this permit from the Immigration and Naturalisation Service (IND) if the migrant worker is to be employed for longer than three months. The IND assesses whether you, as a prospective employee, serve a ‘genuine Dutch interest’ (the important consideration here again is whether the employer really is unable to find suitable personal in the Netherlands or elsewhere in the EU).

The permit consists of a residence document for you as the employee and a supplementary document for you and your employer. This supplementary document indicates which employer you are allowed to work for as a migrant worker and under which conditions. The GVVA is not issued to highly skilled migrants, but to ‘regular’ workers not originating from from the EEA or Switzerland.

There is an exception for some migrant workers for whom no work permit (TWV or GVVA) is necessary, as is the case for highly skilled migrants.

Permits for highly skilled migrants

Employees who wish to hire you as a highly skilled migrant must start an entry and residence procedure at the IND. This option is only open to employers who are recognised by the IND. The IND will investigate whether there are any objections to admission on the grounds of public order or security risks. This procedure takes around two weeks. If the investigation produces a positive result and you meet the other conditions for highly skilled workers from abroad, you can pick up an MVV from the Dutch Embassy in your country. This document will allow you to travel to the Netherlands and pick up your residence permit from the IND.

If you do not require an MVV, your employer can start the application procedure for your work permit while you are in the Netherlands as a highly skilled migrant.

EU Blue Card

In addition to the Dutch highly skilled migrant scheme, there is a European scheme for highly skilled migrants: the EU Blue Card. To be eligible for an EU Blue Card, highly skilled migrants must:

  • have completed a three-year Bachelor’s study program
  • hold a degree certificate whose credentials are recognised by the International Credential Evaluation (IDW) service.
  • earn at least €5,160 gross per month.

This is a higher income and education requirement than required of regular highly skilled migrants. Holders of an EU Blue Card have a faster track to permanent residency than highly skilled migrants coming to and working in the Netherlands under the Dutch program.

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* We do not do any recruitment. Holland Payroll is the partner for you when you already have a Dutch employer who wants to hire you and you need help to comply with all the laws and regulations.