In anticipation of the implementation of the new migration system, a new admission scheme for highly educated migrants has been introduced as of 1 January 2009. Pursuant to this scheme, highly educated foreign nationals who have attained at least a Master's degree can obtain a residence permit with a maximum term of 1 year in The Netherlands in order to find a job as a highly skilled migrant or to start an innovative company. This scheme can ensure that foreign exceptional talents (who currently do not yet come to The Netherlands, but who can create economical added value for The Netherlands) are more easily admitted to The Netherlands.
Which persons qualify for this scheme?
The foreign nationals who qualify for this scheme are those who are entering the country from abroad, and who have completed a course at a university listed in the top 150 of two internationally recognised rankings. This concerns top 150 universities in rankings as published in the Times Higher Education Supplement and by Jiao Tong Shanghai University in 2009.
In addition, foreign nationals who have completed a Master's degree at a recognised institution for higher education or who have received their Ph.D. from a Dutch institution for higher education also qualify for this scheme. All the above-mentioned highly educated migrants will be able to make use of this scheme until three years after the date of their graduation.
The points system
In addition to the requirement regarding the attainment of a Master's degree at one of the above-mentioned educational institutions, the foreign national will also be assessed on the basis of a points system. This system will be used to assess the level of education, age, and performance indicators for success in The Netherlands. The highly educated person will qualify for a residence permit if he scores at least 35 out of 40 points. A Master's degree will allow the foreign national to attain 25 points and a PhD will allow him to attain 30 points. Another 5 points are awarded if the foreign national is between the ages of 21 and 40. Another additional 5 points are awarded if the highly educated person has previously worked or studied in the Netherlands, speaks Dutch or English, or has obtained his diploma in a country that is party to the Bologna Declaration.
Highly educated migrants who wish to make use of this scheme will not be assessed as regards their means of existence. Making use of public funds during the 1-year term of the residence permit (the so-called orientation year) may have consequences for this residence right. If the highly educated person wishes to bring his family members to the Netherlands as well, the regular requirements regarding family reunification (including sufficient means of existence) will apply.
Highly Skilled Migrant Scheme
The foreign national can look for a job as a highly skilled migrant in The Netherlands during his residence on the basis of the admission scheme for highly educated migrants. In this case, the employer will have to have been admitted to the highly skilled migrant scheme with the IND. The lowered income requirement in order to be considered a highly skilled migrant then also applies to the highly educated person. As soon as the highly educated person has found a job making him eligible for highly skilled migrant status, i.e. within a term of at most 1 year, he can convert the one-year residence permit into a residence permit as a highly skilled migrant. The highly educated person may also start an innovative company in The Netherlands within the orientation year. If he has succeeded within one year, he may request conversion of the residence permit into a residence permit to work on a self-employed basis. The requirements set in this respect do have to be satisfied.
Foreign nationals who are awarded a residence permit pursuant to the admission scheme for highly educated migrants are permitted to work as an employee during this orientation year if their employer has obtained a Work permit. Their family members are also permitted to work as employees if the employer has obtained a Work permit. The labour market position of the family members will change when the highly educated person achieves the status of highly skilled migrant or that of self-employed person. They will be completely free to seek employment as they see fit.
Job-seeking year for foreigners who graduated in the Netherlands
For foreign students from outside the EU/EEA who have successfully completed a HBO/WO (University of Applied sciences or Reserach University) course in The Netherlands special rules apply. Graduates who find permanent employment as a highly skilled migrant within a year will be eligible for a residence permit, provided that all the conditions of the skilled migrant policy are met. The minimum starting salary required for this specific group has been lowered to € 25.800 gross per year.
Similarly, if a graduate finds a job which meets the salary criterion of € 25,800 immediately after graduating, without having made use of the ‘job-seeking year', an application to amend the reason of stay of his or her residence permit to highly skilled migrant can be submitted. In this case a certified copy of the degree certificate must be sent together with the application.
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