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Changing jobs as a highly skilled migrant in the Netherlands

For highly skilled migrants, changing jobs is not only a career move, but it also comes with legal obligations. Our expert partner Kroes Advocaten put together this comprehensive guide for highly skilled migrants who want to change employers in the Netherlands. Find out more about the necessary steps, the importance of renewing residence permits on time, and other issues such as contract limitations and spousal employment opportunities.

Article provided by our partner  Kroes Advocaten

Understanding the process

Changing employers as a highly skilled migrant in the Netherlands involves several steps. First, you need to secure a job offer from a new employer. This new employer must be a recognised sponsor that’s approved by the Dutch Immigration and Naturalisation Service (IND). Check the IND’s list of approved companies.

Legal obligations

To make the transition to a new job smooth, it’s crucial to meet your legal obligations. Once you have secured a job offer, your new employer must inform the IND about your change of job. It’s also advisable to ask your previous employer to notify the IND that you’re no longer working for them. You must have a valid residence permit throughout the process of changing employers, so remember to renew your permit on time to avoid any gaps.

Preventing residence status gaps and IND policy

To avoid any gaps in your residence status during the transition from one job to another, prioritise renewing your residence permit on time. Stay updated on the renewal process and make sure that your extension application has been filed by either your current or new employer well before the expiration date. By maintaining clear communication with both your previous and your new employer, you can minimise the risk of residence gaps.

IND policy is now more flexible if your extension application has been submitted within four weeks of your old permit expiring. As long as you meet the conditions, you can still get a new residence permit based on the old one. Even after a four-week period, it may be advisable to challenge the IND’s decision. In some cases, objections to IND decisions relating to a residence status gap have been successful.

Contract limits and permanent employment

One important issue to note is that there’s a limit on the number of consecutive one-year contracts one can have before obtaining a permanent contract. In the Netherlands, there is a legal framework known as the ‘chain rule’ that governs the maximum total duration of temporary contracts. Typically, an employer can offer you a maximum of three consecutive one-year contracts before they are obliged to offer you a permanent contract. However, certain circumstances and collective labour agreements may allow for deviations from this rule. It’s essential to be aware of your rights and discuss contract expectations with your new employer.

Spousal employment opportunities

The Dutch government recognises the value of attracting highly skilled professionals and aims to support their families as well. This means that if a highly skilled migrant’s spouse or partner joins then in the Netherlands, they are allowed to work without any restrictions. The accompanying spouse or partner does not need a separate work permit. When you change employers, nothing changes for your spouse or partner. They are still allowed to work freely and do not have to notify the IND of your change of employer.

Steps for changing jobs

Follow these steps to change employers as a highly skilled migrant:

  1. Secure a suitable job offer from a new employer in the Netherlands.
  2. Check if this employer is on the list of IND recognised sponsors.
  3. Not necessary, but advisable: Notify previous employer to inform the IND that you have left their company.
  4. Notify the IND: Your new employer must notify the IND that their company is your new sponsor.
  5. Renew residence permit:
    If your residence permit is set to expire within the next three months, it is crucial to have your new employer initiate the renewal process in a timely manner. They should submit the necessary documentation and meet the IND’s requirements for both the extension of your residence permit and the change of employer application. By taking prompt action, you can ensure a seamless transition to your new employer without any residence gaps.
    Residence permits cannot be extended earlier than three months before the expiry date. If you are changing employers and have more than three months before your permit expires then you still need to renew it but you have more time to initiate the process with your new employer.

More information and contact details

Changing employers as a highly skilled migrant in the Netherlands is a significant career step. Stay proactive, stay informed and comply with IND regulations to navigate the process smoothly and transition seamlessly to a new employer.

Kroes Advocaten is more than happy to assist with any questions you might have. You can contact one of their lawyers directly by phone (+31 20 520 70 50), or you can send your question via email to

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