Are you looking to move and work in the Netherlands?  We understand, there are a multitude of reasons that drive international professionals to come here to find work. The multicultural society, the high level and density of English proficiency, the acceptance of other ideas, religions, and outlook on life. Due to the strong economy and international business environment, it is also a popular destination for companies to expand their business. There is only one roadblock. To work in the Netherlands as a non-EU professional you will need a residence permit that allows you to work here. This article gives you an overview of some of the main residence permits that allow non-EU professionals to work in the Netherlands.  

What is the difference between a visa and a residence permit? 

A visa and a residence permit are both legal documents that allow foreigners to enter and stay in a foreign country, but they serve different purposes. It is important to understand the differences and apply for the right one.  


A Visa is an official document in your passport that allows you to enter and/or stay in the country you are traveling to. The requirement of a visa to travel to the Netherlands depends on your country of origin. For example, when applicable, a short-stay Schengen Visa allows you to stay in the Schengen area including the Netherlands for a maximum of 90 days in any 180-day period such as for a holiday and business trip. If you want to travel and stay in the Netherlands for more than 90 days, you might need an entry Visa, called MVV. In such a case, you can pick up a (temporary) residence permit with the MVV upon arrival in the Netherlands.  

List of visas available for stay in the Netherlands 

  • Airport transit Visa 
  • Short-stay Schengen Visa 
  • Orange Carpet Visa Facility 
  • Schengen Visa facilitation  
  • Long-stay Visa (MVV) 
  • Entry Visa 
  • Caribbean Visas 

 * Important note, these visas will not (necessarily) allow you to take on paid employment in the Netherlands. 

Residence permit  

A residence permit is an official document or card that allows you to reside in a country for a fixed or indefinite length of time. If you want to stay in the Netherlands for longer than 90 days, you need to have a residence permit unless you are from an EU/EEA country or Switzerland. It is important to note that residence permits do not always include work permits.  

Residence and work permit 

There are different types of permits for residence and work. We will focus on the main residence permits that come with a work permit for (1) family and partner, (2) work, and (3) study. For more information and requirements, please visit the Immigration and Naturalization Service (IND).  

Types of residence permits for: 

  • Family and partner 
    • partner  
  • Work 
    • Intra-corporate transferee 
    • Highly skilled migrant 
    • European blue card  
    • Researcher  
    • Self-employed 
    • Start-up 
  • Study 
    • Orientation year  


Imagine, you are a non-EU person coming to the Netherlands for your (Dutch, non-Dutch, non-EU) partner, there are various requirements that need to be met for a residence permit. Whether you are allowed to work in the Netherlands is stated on your residence permit. You are free to work with the residence permit if your partner is one of the following:   

  • Dutch national 
  • Highly skilled migrant 
  • European Blue cardy holder 
  • Self-employed person 
  • Single permit holder (GVVA) for residence and work and your employer has a TWV  

Intra-corporate transferee 

An intra-corporate transferee residence permit is a residence and work permit for managers, specialists, and trainees from outside the EU, EEA, or Switzerland. For the qualification, you need to work for a company outside of the EU and be transferred to its branch in the Netherlands, or work for a company within the EU with an intra-corporate transferee residence permit and be transferred to its branch in the Netherlands.   

Highly skilled migrant 

A highly skilled migrant residence permit is a residence and work permit for an employee who works for a recognized sponsor by the IND in the Netherlands. The recognized sponsor must apply for a residence permit on behalf of the highly skilled migrant.  

European blue card 

A European Blue Card is a European work and residence permit for highly educated employees from outside the EU, EEA, or Switzerland. This is different from the highly skilled migrant residence permit as the European Blue Card requires a diploma of a program in a post-secondary higher education program (a Bachelor or Master degree) with a length of longer than 3 years while the highly skilled migrant residence permit does require higher education diplomas.  


A researcher residence permit is a residence and work permit for researchers with a nationality from outside the EU, EEA, or Switzerland. 


A self-employed residence permit is a residence and work permit for self-employed people, namely freelancers. You need to be registered in the Trade Register of the Dutch Chamber of Commerce (KVK).  


A start-up residence permit is a residence and work permit for startups with a nationality from outside the EU, EEA, or Switzerland looking to start an innovative business in the Netherlands. You must work with a reliable mentor, or a “facilitator” with a signed contract and both of you must be registered in the Trade Register of the Dutch Chamber of Commerce (KVK). This permit differs from the self-employed residence permit in the way that it requires innovative entrepreneurship.  

Orientation year  

An orientation year residence permit is a residence and work permit for graduates with a nationality from outside the EU, EEA, or Switzerland looking for a job in the Netherlands after graduation.  

A word of Advice 

Not every company that is registered in the Netherlands is able to employ a non-EU professional. In order to apply for the correct permits the employer of record must be a registered sponsor with the IND. As a recognized sponsor, Octagon can provide a visa and work permit to non-EU employees and support your immigration needs. We are also happy to assist companies looking to become a registered sponsor to complete that process and payroll the non-EU professionals in the meantime. Contact us to start the conversation about how our team of HR experts can help you!  

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