How to hire non-EU talent?

- Update! From the 1st of July it will be easier for startups to hire essential personal from outside Europe. On this date a four-year pilot will start. During the pilot the income threshold will be €2.497  gross, significantly lower than the previous threshold. To make use of the new permit, you need to meet some requirements.  You can find all the information about the new startup residence permit here.


Talent doesn't stop at borders, and thanks to the free movement of workers within the EU, EEA and Switzerland, Dutch companies can choose from a wide pool of talent. But huge numbers of talented people live beyond the EU’s borders, so if you want to hire someone with a non-EU nationality, what are your options? 

Highly-skilled migrant permit

Companies that are ‘recognized sponsors’ with the IND can employ highly skilled migrants from outside the EU. Minimum salary requirements apply for this residence and work permit.  You can see all companies in the Netherlands that are registered as IND sponsors here.

If you want your company to become one of these recognized sponsors, you need to go through an application process. The application process costs are €2,062 for companies with less than 50 employees and €4125 if you employ more personnel. And being a recognized sponsor means you have rights and obligations. For instance, you can make use of the fast-track procedure and declaration forms. One of your commitments is to pay your highly skilled migrant staff an income above a set threshold. You can find the exact number here; the salary criteria in 2021 are €3,484 gross per month for highly skilled migrants younger than 30 and €4,752 for staff 30 years and older. People with a non-EU nationality that use a ‘Search Year’ permit qualify for a lower salary, too. For smaller companies, this set income threshold can be challenging to meet. Don't worry! There are still options for you. 

For us, having an international team is part of our DNA. Being a recognized sponsor gives us the possibility to hire talent from outside the EU, which enables us to choose for quality, and not nationality.

Christel SielingDirector of Operations Odyssey 

Search year permit

If a potential non-EU staff member finished a Bachelor’s, Master’s or PhD study in the Netherlands or at one of the top 200 universities in the world in the last three years, they can apply for a 'orientation year highly educated persons' permit. During the year term of this permit, someone with a non-EU nationality can work in whatever format they wish, but they must still obtain health insurance if they are working!

If you hire during this orientation year, and you would like them to stay for longer, you can apply for a Highly-skilled migrant permit with the income threshold lowered to €2,497 gross per month (2021). So it makes sense to join events like the Boston Career event to search for international talent from one of the top 200 universities as they have access to a year of living and working in the Netherlands upon graduation!

Virtual payroll for your company

Even if you're not a recognized sponsor, you can still make use of the Highly-skilled migrant permit by using a virtual payrolling mechanism. Recruitment agencies like Brunel and Holland Employment Experts function like sponsor intermediates for your employee, and have recognition as a sponsor from the IND. Unfortunately this can add costs to your hiring process.  You will need to pay the income threshold and the company fee. 

If you're not a recognized sponsor and don't want to use an international recruitment agency, there are still a few options left that you can find on this page.

The startup visa or self-employment visa

There are two visas for international entrepreneurs that want to establish themselves in the Netherlands: the  startup visa and the self-employment visa. Both have separate requirements, but they can be interesting if you want to collaborate with international talent. 

For example, imagine that your visual intelligence company is working on a new product with a developer from India. You might think it to be a good step to launch this innovation in the Netherlands. It is possible to register this company with the developer from India as its founder, with you as a secondary partner. If the new company meets the startup visa requirements and finds the right facilitator, the developer could work in the Netherlands with a startup visa. More information, and a list of facilitators in the North, is available at Startup Visa Groningen.

Plenty of options

There are multiple options for hiring international staff from outside the EU to work in the Netherlands. Whilst all the options might seem overwhelming, there are plenty of places that can help! The International Welcome Center North can provide information and referrals, free of charge. Check their website  for more information, or to get into contact.