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Japanese nationals no longer free on the labour market as of 1 January 2017

Based on a decision of the Council of State of 24 December 2014, Japanese nationals have free access to the Dutch labour market.


By virtue of a most favourite nation clause included in the Treaty of Commerce and Navigation between the Netherlands and Japan (1912) and the Treaty between the Netherlands and Switzerland (1875), the Council of State namely ruled that Japanese nationals had to be treated the same way as Swiss nationals, who are free on the Dutch labour market.

The Dutch and Swiss governments have drawn up an interpretative statement accompanied to the Treaty, in which they clarify that the residence, the establishment and the access to the labour markets of both countries based on this Treaty are governed by national legislation. This statement was published on Monday 20 June 2016 in the Treaty Series.

As a result of the publication of the interpretative statement, for Japanese nationals who want to come to the Netherlands for work, a work permit is now again required.  Previously was announced that Japanese nationals are no longer free on the labour market as of 1 October 2016.  Following various signals from the industry, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Minister of Economic Affairs, the Minister of Social Affairs and Employment and the Minister of Migration have decided to extend the transitional period till 1 January 2017. In addition, please be referred to the enclosed answers to the parliamentary questions (only available in Dutch) concerning Japanese nationals, in which is announced that the transitional period is extended.

Japanese nationals who are already in possession of a residence permit with the employment status 'work freely allowed, work permit not required', may retain this permit for as long as it is still valid. Applications for a (new) residence permit, submitted on or after 1 January 2017, will, again, be assessed under the Foreign Nationals Employment Act.

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