September 28, 2010

The Dutch immigration authority (Immigratie en Naturalisatiedienst, or “IND”) has issued a newsletter announcing a change to the issuance of provisional residence permits (MVVs) for highly skilled migrants (also known as “knowledge migrants”).  Additionally, the Modern Migration Policy, to take effect from 1 January 2011, has been announced.

Change in Procedure for Highly Skilled Residence Permit Issuance 

Currently, in order to apply for permission to work and reside in the Netherlands as a highly skilled, or “knowledge” migrant, it is necessary to first submit an application to the immigration authorities (IND) in the Netherlands.  Following this, and once the application has been approved, a positive opinion may be sent from the IND to the Dutch Embassy or consulate in the applicant’s country of residence.  The applicant can then go to the Embassy or consulate to have his or her passport endorsed with the provisional residence permit (MVV) sticker.

What’s Changed? 

The Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs has made a decision to regionalize its foreign services – meaning, in effect, that many Embassies and Consulates will serve as a “front desk” only, with much of the work being sent on to a regional support office in another country in the region.  As Embassies and consulates are “regionalized” in this way, provisional residence permit applicants will have their applications forwarded on to the regional support office.  Applications will still be submitted to the Embassy or Consulate in the applicant’s country of residence, but the actual residence permit (MVV) stickers will no longer be issued on the premises.  

Effect of the Changes 

The Dutch immigration authorities claim that regionalizing activities in this way will increase quality – since many applications will be dealt with in one office, that office will have increased expertise and experience.  However, the major visible effect for most of Pro-Link GLOBAL’s clients is likely to be an increased processing time.  Where previously applications were dealt with on a same day (or up to two day) basis, applications made to regionalized offices will take longer.  The Dutch immigration authorities advise that the applications will take up to one week longer than under the previous system.  Pro-Link GLOBAL’s opinion is that, in practice, when applications are sent from one diplomatic post to another, the administrative time involved can become extensive, and we advise our clients to expect delays of at least one to two weeks.

When Will This Happen? 

The regionalization program is still subject to an ongoing advisory process with the Netherlands Employees’ Council.  When introduced, it will be in phases, with the ultimate goal of having this system in place worldwide. At this time, we do not have information on when the process will begin, or which regions will be focussed on first – as soon as this information becomes available, we will share it with our clients.

Modern Migration Policy

Regular readers of our blog will know that the Netherlands announced its newModern Migration Policy in July this year.  This is scheduled to become active on 1 January 2011.

Key Changes of Modern Migration Policy

At this stage, and before the changes become live, it is difficult for us to comment in detail on how the new policy will affect our clients.  However, we expect the following changes:

  1. For highly skilled (“Knowledge”) migrants, a new combined application for MVV (provisional residence permit) and residence permit can be submitted.  This process, called the TEV ((Toegang en Verblijf). has already been in place as a pilot program in several regions in the Netherlands and has been very successful.  The previous system was a two step process –  to apply for the MVV (provisional residence permit) first, and then to apply for the final residence permit post arrival in the Netherlands.
  2. Responsibility is shifted to the employer (the “sponsor”) and to the employer’s representatives (i.e. Pro-Link GLOBAL).   The Dutch immigration authorities have defined the responsibilities of sponsors as follows.
    • The duty to inform (including reporting any changes relevant to the right of residence of the foreign national to the immigration authorities)
    • Administration duty (keeping relevant copies and details regarding the employment of the foreign national on file, and for up to five years after the sponsorship has ended)
    • The duty to care (i.e. organizations must ensure careful recruitment and selection)
    • Responsibility for repatriation of foreign nationals
    • More details can be found here.
  3. “Authorized sponsors” will benefit from a simplified and expedited procedure.  This is similar to the Sponsorship Management System in the UK, where registered sponsors are trusted, but non-compliance is penalized very severely.   “Authorized sponsors” will be able to issue their own declarations without submitting supporting documentation, and should receive an answer from the immigration authorities (IND) within two weeks.  Companies that area already registered with the Highly Skilled (“Knowledge”) Migration program  (Kennismigrantenregeling) and which have had at least one residence permit application approved in 2010 will automatically become “authorized sponsors”.  Other companies may apply to become authorized.
  4. In summary, it has never been more important to be in compliance with immigration regulations in the Netherlands.  The Knowledge Migrant covenant and administration online should be kept up to date at all times.  Copies of all immigration documents and supporting evidence (including employment contracts) should be kept on file by both the employer and the authorized representative (Pro-Link GLOBAL).

ACTION ITEMS FOR EMPLOYERS 

Note that, as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs introduces the regionalization Note that, as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs introduces the regionalizationprogram, that processing times for provisional residence permits (MVVs) at Dutch Embassies and Consulates will be extended.

However, under the Modern Migration Policy,  due to take effect from January 2011, applications for highly skilled “knowledge’ migrants will be made into a one step process, thus decreasing overall processing time.

Note that the Modern Migration Policy places greater responsibility and duties on to employers.

Note that, from January 2011, “Authorised sponsors” under the Modern Migration Policy will benefit from a simpler and more efficient process. If your company is registered on the Knowledge Migrant Program and had at least one highly skilled (“knowledge”) residence permit application approved in 2010, you will automatically become an “authorized sponsor” – if not, contact Pro-Link GLOBAL for more details on how to become authorized.

Caveat Lector | Warning to Reader 

This is provided as informational only and does not substitute for actual legal advice based on the specific circumstances of a matter. Readers are reminded that Immigration laws are fluid and can change a moment’s notice without any warning. Please reach out to your local Pro-Link GLOBAL specialist should you require any additional clarification.

Pro-Link GLOBAL worked with our PLG|KGNM correspondent office in the Netherlands to provide this Global BRIEF alert to you.