Foreign employees: The work permit and the labour market

Countries are trying to shield of the labour market from an intake of foreign employees. Countries do this by implementing an obligatory residence permit (Authorization for provisional stay) in The Netherlands and for working in The Netherlands (work permit). The request for the work permit goes through the UWV and IND.

For a stay shorter than 3 months this is the employment permit (Dutch: terwerkstellingsvergunning; TWV) and with a stay longer than 3 months the employee requests the combined permit for residence and labour (Dutch: GVVA).

European Economic Space (Dutch: EER)

For employees outside the European Economic Space the employer must show that they have tried to find a suitable candidate for the position in The Netherlands or inside the European Economic Space. This is called the labour market test. Companies must demonstrate this attempt by advertising in The Netherlands, the test is expensive and time consuming.

Many sectors are busy lobbying for exceptions and adjustments. There are exceptions for professors, actors, musicians, interns, preachers, museums, within financial institutions etc. The sectors believe that the labour market test or a permit is absurd, below are a few examples of the exceptions:


A highly-skilled migrant can start working without the work permit. The employer is obligated to pay the employee according to the standard for highly-skilled migrants. The standard is for an employee up to 30 years old EU3000 per month and above 30 years old EU4100 a month (2014).

Artists can receive a work permit up to three years, for artists different income standards apply, see the UWV website for more information.

For functions in museums a permit period of 1 year applies. Only museums that are a member of the union for national museums can receive a permit for conservators for three years. Even after three years a labour market test is not mandatory.

Five year term

For preachers, interns and work students there is no labour market test required when receiving a permit. After the permit expires, a new labour market test must be conducted (there are exceptions). After possessing a work permit for five years an employee is free on the Dutch labour market.

Article FD, 15th of December 2014 and the website of the UWV and IND (
Letter secretary of state SZW 6th of March 2015, TK 2014-2015, 32144, no. 24