Following the United Kingdom's referendum on membership of the European Union, held in June 2016, the so-called Brexit decision has raised fresh questions for British citizens living and working in the Netherlands, as well as for businesses in the Netherlands employing Brits.
The City of Amsterdam, Expatcenter Amsterdam and amsterdam inbusiness are keen to ensure that all parties who may be affected by the Brexit decision remain up to date with the latest news and are aware of any potential policy changes, as well as clearly explaining the present situation. For that reason, a Brexit Information Point has been installed at the Expatcenter Amsterdam, which will help to answer any questions raised by British citizens already living in the Netherlands, those moving here, as well as businesses directly affected by any future policies. Contact the Brexit Information Point by calling +31 (0)20 254 7999 or dropping into the Expatcenter office, where we are happy to assist you.
In July 2016, Amsterdam’s British community was invited by Mayor Eberhard van der Laan to discuss concerns regarding the result of the UK’s referendum on EU secession and potential consequences of a Brexit. Find a summary of the main topics and issues discussed at the meeting here.
After the British referendum on secession from the EU, many British citizens living in the Netherlands are unsure about their future rights for working and living in the Netherlands. While it is currently unclear when the UK will leave the EU and under what terms, there are numerous options for non-EU citizens who want to live and work in the Netherlands.
The British government formally announced the intention of withdrawing from the EU on 29 March 2017, thereby triggering the process laid out in Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty. According to Article 50, from this point onwards the EU and UK have two years to negotiate Britain’s withdrawal. This period could be extended if all current member states agree to it. During negotiations, the UK remains a member of the EU and British citizens retain all their rights under EU law, including that of free movement. Thus the situation for British citizens will not change for at least two years. They are still EU citizens until the UK’s secession.
Even once negotiations begin, it is impossible to forecast what the future relationship between the UK and the EU would look like. Representatives of the EU have stated that any future trade deals, for example, cannot be negotiated while the UK is still an EU member, and that the imminent negotiations must focus only on the terms of withdrawal.
If the future relationship does not include free movement of people between the UK and the EU, British citizens wanting to move to the Netherlands would have the same rights as non-EU citizens from the rest of the world. However, there is disagreement amongst legal analysts regarding the situation of British citizens already living in other EU countries, with some stating it would be unlikely that they would be suddenly expelled or expected to fulfil all the criteria for non-EU citizens wanting to live and work in, for example, the Netherlands. The status of British citizens currently living in other EU countries (and that of non-British EU citizens living in the UK) will likely be part of the upcoming negotiations.
It is important for Amsterdam’s economy to maintain close ties to London and the rest of the UK. The City of Amsterdam is in close contact with many members of the international business world to discuss potential challenges and chances related to the UK’s secession from the EU. Whatever the outcome of the referendum and potential negotiations is, Amsterdam retains its international outlook, open to Europe as well as the rest of the world.
In an interview with DutchNews.nl in April 2017, the MP David Jones from the UK’s Department for Exiting the European Union, who was in the country to meet with politicians and business leaders, said that “clarifying the rights of British nationals in the Netherlands and the rest of Europe and EU nationals in Britain should be a top priority in the forthcoming talks on Britain’s withdrawal from Europe.”
For clarity of the present situation, below you can learn more about the numerous existing options for non-EU citizens wanting to live in the Netherlands.
Working as an employee of an international company – any employer with a branch in the Netherlands may apply for a residence permit for their international employees.
Working as a highly skilled migrant – to qualify as a highly skilled migrant, an employee has to fulfil certain requirements including a minimum income and work for an approved company.
The European blue card – employees who perform highly qualified labour within the European Union may qualify for a European blue card, if they meet certain income and training requirements.
Scientific researchers – scientific researchers from non-EU countries can live and work in the Netherlands under similar conditions as those for highly skilled migrants.
Startup entrepreneurs – startup founders can apply for a special work and residence permit for the Netherlands.
Self-employed entrepreneurs – those wishing to set up a business in the Netherlands can apply for a specific residence permit for entrepreneurs. This enables you to be self-employed in the Netherlands. Specific conditions apply to this procedure.
Recent graduates – recent bachelor’s and master’s graduates from non-EU countries can search for work in the Netherlands for up to a year with an 'Orientation Year’ permit.
Family reunion (non-Dutch EU partner) – this applies to family members of a non-Dutch EU citizen who is a resident of the Netherlands.
As stated above, British citizens are EU citizens and will continue to be treated as such until a Brexit and its new conditions are formally finalised. The information provided below is simply for the sake of additional clarity and is not an official requirement.
Permanent residence document – British citizens who have lived in the Netherlands for a minimum of five years can apply for a permanent residence document. Although not mandatory for EU citizens at present, possession of a permanent residence document could potentially strengthen a resident's case to stay in the Netherlands post-Brexit.
Becoming a Dutch citizen – British citizens that have lived in the Netherlands for a minimum of five years (this period may be increased to seven) can apply for Dutch citizenship. In most cases, this would mean they would have to give up their British citizenship. (Exemptions to this include being married to a Dutch national or those who can follow the option procedure.)
Please note that the items listed above are a simplified summary of immigration options available in the Netherlands at present. In the future we will publish more comprehensive details.
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