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After the Search Year

​After the Search Year, you have a few career related options that will allow you to remain in the Netherlands.


Highly Skilled Migrant

This Dutch immigration policy encourages the knowledge economy by allowing companies to recruit highly skilled migrants and apply for combined residence and work authorisation in an expedited procedure. You as an employee must enter into a local contract for at least four months.


A guaranteed gross monthly salary is required (holiday allowance not included), the level depending on the age of the employee. The normal base salary threshold for a Highly Skilled Migrant is € 4,840 per month (under 30 years old) or €3,549.00 per month (over 30 years old), however, the salary threshold for Search Year Visa holders is only € 2,543.00 per month, regardless of their age. Reimbursement of expenses and allowances may be included provided they are specified and guaranteed in a contract, are paid out on a monthly basis and transferred to a bank account in name of the employee.

To have access to the Highly Skilled Migrant program, the Dutch company must be registered as a recognised sponsor with the Dutch Immigration Service (IND) by entering into a standard contract. Currently, there are around 6,000 registered sponsors. If the company of the employer exists for less than 1,5 year or has conducted (actual) business activities for less than 1,5 year, it may also be possible to have the employee enter into employment with a payrolling company holding the recognized sponsor status at the IND on the basis of a secondment agreement.  


Start-Up Visa

A one-year residence permit can be obtained by foreign startup entrepreneurs allowing them to start an innovative business. The entrepreneur must work together with an experienced, recognised, facilitator. After one year, the entrepreneur must pass the strict points-based system to qualify for the self-employed residence permit.

The start-up entrepreneur must have an active role (for example, cannot be a shareholder or financer) and must have an innovative product or service. The cooperation with the facilitator must be set down in an agreement. The facilitator must be trusted and financially sound, must have experience in guiding innovative start-ups:  accelerator programmes and organisations as Rockstart, and Startup Bootcamp may all assume the role of facilitator. Sufficient financial resources must be available for the duration of the start up residence permit.

The following conditions must be met:

  • The start-up entrepreneur must work together with a trusted and experienced facilitator (mentor) based in the Netherlands.

  • The product or service is innovative under the following conditions:

       - The product or service is new to the Netherlands.

       - A new technology or technique for production, distribution or marketing is involved.

       - There is an innovative organisational procedure and method.

       - A step-by-step plan is available to develop the idea into a business.

       - The entrepreneur and the facilitator are registered with the Dutch Chamber of Commerce

       - The start-up entrepreneur has sufficient financial resources to reside and live in the Netherlands for one year.


Self-Employed Visa

Foreign nationals wishing to work independently in the Netherlands can obtain a residence permit provided that their business is of an added value and interest to the Dutch knowledge economy.

This scheme is intended for owners and majority shareholders (24% and above) of a business in The Netherlands.


The main requirement under this scheme is that the business activities serve an essential Dutch interest. This is assessed through a points based system. See Points based system / points overview


A minimum of 30 points must be scored for specific categories. Highly educated persons could alternatively score 45 points for categories A (Personal experience) and B (Business plan) each. In that situation, criteria C (Added value for the Dutch economy) will be fixed at 30 points. The option for highly educated persons is preferable, as it is generally quite difficult to score sufficient points for ‘Added value’.


From the financial plan being part of the business plan, the business must generate sufficient income for the self-employed person and possible family members. For the self-employed person, this is € 1,327.69 gross per month.


These amounts are valid from 01-01-2022 and are subject to change every six months.


A residence permit based on this scheme usually involves a lot of paperwork and the processing time of the application takes between 6 months and 1 year.

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