Who can apply for a European blue card?
A European blue card is a work and residence permit for highly skilled employees (expats) who are nationals of a country outside the EU, EEA or Switzerland. The information on this page applies in the following cases:
- You live outside the EU, EEA or Switzerland. You want to apply for a European blue card to work in the Netherlands.
- You already live in one of the EU countries that are part of the European blue card scheme and hold a European blue card residence permit. You now want to work in the Netherlands as a European blue card holder.
- You are an employer. You want to employ a foreign employee with a European blue card.
Advantages European blue card
Compared to other residence permit the European blue card has a few advantages:
- Usually you can more easily apply for an European blue card in another participating EU Member State. Please inform yourself on the procedure and conditions at the other Member State.
- You may already apply for EU long-term residence after 2 years (in stead of 5 years). To apply after 2 years you do have to meet these 2 requirements:
- In total you have lived in the European Union legally and continuously for 5 years.
- Directly before your residence in the Netherlands you have lived in another EU Member State with an European blue card for 18 months already.
- Your family members may apply for a residence permit humanitarian non-temporary for continued residence after 2 years (in stead op 5 years) living in the Netherlands as a family member of a European blue card holder. They should meet the requirements for the residence permit humanitarian non-temporary. And should have lived legally and continuously in the European Union for a minimum of 5 years.
Highly skilled migrant residence permit
In the Netherlands, another residence permit for highly skilled employees is also available. This is the Highly skilled migrant residence permit. Different conditions apply for this permit.
Employer: sponsor or recognised sponsor
If you are hiring a foreign worker, then you are the sponsor of that worker. As an employer, you can become a recognised sponsor. Recognised sponsors can easily and quickly apply for residence permits for employees and their family members. Employers do not have to become a recognised sponsor to hire an employee for a European blue card: becoming a recognised sponsor is completely voluntary. Find out more about applying to the IND to become a recognised sponsor.
Provisional residence permit
The employee will need a visa to travel to the Netherlands. That visa is known as a provisional residence permit (in Dutch: machtiging tot voorlopig verblijf or MVV). In some situations, no MVV is required, for example if the employee has held a European blue card in another EU country for at least 18 months. Find out more about provisional residence permits (MVV).
The following requirements apply to the European blue card residence permit:
- The employee meets the general requirements that apply to everyone.
The employee has a contract in the Netherlands for highly qualified work. Highly qualified work is work that requires a higher education qualification.
The employee meets the income requirements.
The employment contract is for a period of at least 12 months.
The employee has a higher education degree. The degree course lasted at least 3 years. The degree must be required for and in line with the profession or relevant sector to which the application relates. Does the employee have a degree that was awarded abroad? Please let Nuffic evaluate the degree. This means that Nuffic will assess the status of the foreign degree in the Netherlands. More information about degree evaluation is available on the Nuffic website.
Does the employee have a protected profession, such as doctor or lawyer? If so, you must prove that he or she meets the statutory requirements for being allowed to practise that profession in the Netherlands.
The employee who is going to work as an individual healthcare professional must be listed in the register of individual healthcare professionals (in Dutch: BIG-register).
In the 5 years prior to the application, the employer must not have received a fine for violating Article 2 of the Foreign Nationals Employment Act, or for failing to pay the necessary income tax, employee insurance premiums or national insurance contributions.
Other rules may apply for Turkish citizens and their family members.
Documents that you need
You need to submit documents to demonstrate that you fulfil the conditions. Have official documents from abroad legalised and translated into Dutch, English, French or German. The following documents are needed for the European blue card application:
- A copy of the page in your passport that contains the personal data and the period of validity. You should also send a copy of the pages with travel stamps.
- A copy of the employment contract or the appointment decision, in which it is stated that the employee will work for at least 12 months.
- An employer's declaration.
- A copy of the payslips for the past 3 months (as far as possible).
- If the employee has a Dutch degree: a certified copy of the degree certificate.
- If the employee has a foreign degree: a copy of the degree certificate and the original degree evaluation from Nuffic.
- If the employee has a protected profession: evidence that he or she meets the statutory requirements for being allowed to practise that profession in the Netherlands.
- These appendices from the application form:
- The appendix 'Declaration by sponsor (employment)' for non-recognised sponsors. This declaration must be completed in full and signed by the employer.
- The appendix 'Antecedents Certificate'. The researcher should fill in all sections of the Antecedents Certificate and sign it.
Written application forms
Only the employer can apply for the residence permit. The employer applies for the MVV and the residence permit at the same time. This can only be done in writing. There are various application forms.
Application form for application by a recognised sponsor
Download the following application form:
Application form for application by a sponsor
Download the following application form:
How to submit your written application
- Download and print the form.
- Fill in the form and the appendices that apply to your situation.
- Put the application form, the appendices and the documents in a single envelope. Never send original documents to the IND. Make sure all copies are legible.
- Send the application to the IND. You will find the address on the application form.
Costs of application
The employer pays the application fees. This can be done by Direct Debit, if you are a recognised sponsor. Alternatively, the IND sends a letter regarding payment of the application costs (fees).
The costs of the application for a European blue card residence permit are € 345,00. See the web page about Fees: application costs.
Decision on your application
The IND has 90 days to decide on your application for a European blue card. This period is called the decision period. It is specified by law. You will receive a letter stating the date by which the IND will decide on the application. Find out what happens before the IND decides on your application.
For recognised sponsors, the IND aims to make a decision within 2 weeks
The IND aims to handle the application of a recognised sponsor within 2 weeks. This is conditional on the application being complete.
Track your application in My IND
The employee can track the application's progress in My IND.
Apply for review of the decision
You can apply for review of the decision within 4 weeks. The decision letter explains how to do this. Find out more about applying for review or appealing a decision from the IND.
The IND decides late
Has the decision period passed and you have still not received a decision on your application or review? Then the IND is late in deciding. Find out what you can do if the IND is late with its decision.
Validity of the European blue card residence permit
The residence permit is valid 3 months longer than the employment contract. But it is valid for a maximum of 4 years.
Working in the Netherlands with a European blue card
This residence permit allows the employee to work without a work permit (in Dutch: tewerkstellingsvergunning – TWV) for the employer who applied for the residence permit. The back of the residence permit states: 'Arbeid als houder van de Europese blauwe kaart en als zelfstandige toegestaan, andere arbeid toegestaan met TWV' (Work as a European blue card holder and as a self-employed person allowed; other work allowed with a TWV).
Work permit (TWV)
Do you want to work for another employer as well? If so, that employer will have to obtain a TWV for you. The employer should apply to the UWV (Netherlands Employees Insurance Agency) for the work permit. Find out more about applying to the UWV for a work permit (Dutch only).
Work as a self-employed
As an employee with a European blue card, you are also allowed to work as an entrepreneur in addition to your job with your employer. But you will still have to meet the conditons for the European blue card.
Have you lost your job and is your residence permit still valid? You have up to 3 months to find a new job. This is known as a search period. The search period starts on the day your contract ends. The search period is never longer than the validity of your residence permit.
The employee and the employer must comply with several legal obligations.
- Find out more about the employee's legal obligations (foreign national).
- Find out more about the employer's legal obligations (employment sponsor).
- Information meetings and workshops (for employers)
- Positive decision on residence permit: what should I still do?
Rules and regulations
- Directive 2009/50/EC
- Artikel 3.30b Aliens Decree (Vreemdelingenbesluit 2000)
- Artikel 3.32 Aliens Decree (Vreemdelingenbesluit 2000)
- Artikel 1i Implementation Decree Labour Act for Aliens (Besluit uitvoering Wet arbeid vreemdelingen)
- B6/2.6 Aliens Act Implementation Guidelines (Vreemdelingencirculaire 2000)
- B6/3.1.5, 3.2.5 en 3.3.5 Aliens Act Implementation Guidelines (Vreemdelingencirculaire 2000)
- B6/4.6 Aliens Act Implementation Guidelines (Vreemdelingencirculaire 2000)
- B6/5.2 Aliens Act Implementation Guidelines (Vreemdelingencirculaire 2000)
Immigratie- en Naturalisatiedienst