Residence permit for essential start-up personnel

Last update: 18 December 2023

You want a residence permit for your foreign employee who is essential to your start-up. If your employee wants to live and work in the Netherlands, your employee needs a residence permit. Read what the requirements are and how to apply.


The residence permit for essential start-up personnel is a pilot project. This pilot project runs from 1 June 2021 to 1 June 2025. The residence scheme will continue for 1 year after the pilot project. The following requirements apply to you and your employee:

  • You and your employee meet the general requirements that apply to everyone.
  • You have an innovative start-up company with scalable activities. This means that your company can grow along with the demand for the product or service. The start-up is innovative in the following situations:
    • The product or service is new to the Netherlands.
    • The start-up uses new technology in its production, distribution and/or marketing.
    • The start-up has a new manner of working and organising.
  • A maximum of 15 employees work at the start-up.
  • The start-up can apply for a residence permit for essential start-up personnel, for 5 foreign employees at most.
  • The employee is an expert in a special field that the start-up needs in this start-up stage.
  • The employee has an employment contract with the start-up.
  • The employee meets the income requirements.
  • The employee will be given at least a 1% share in the company (employee participation). The employee will be given:
    • Shares in the company.
    • Depositary receipts for shares in the company.
    • Share options. These give the employee the right to purchase shares in the company. The price of these shares is agreed in advance.
  • The employee will be given the shares within up to 3 years after the contract started. The employee will always be entitled to shares. No requirements apply to this, such as achieving certain accomplishments.

Advice of the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO)

The IND will ask the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (in Dutch: Rijksdienst voor Ondernemend Nederland or RVO) for advice. RVO gives advice on:

  • The start-up and innovative nature of the company. This advice is valid for 3 years from the start date of the first employee receiving a residence permit for essential start-up personnel.
  • Which major role the employee will have at the company. And whether the employee will get an employee participation scheme. 

Does the same start-up submit a new application for essential start-up personnel within 3 years? Then the IND will ask the RVO only for advice on the employment contract. RVO uses the assessment framework for essential start-up personnel (only in Dutch).

Process and costs

These are the steps in the application process for the residence permit:

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Application forms

Download the right form. Fill in the application in writing and send it by post.

The residence permit

Find out what else you need to know about the residence permit.

TB test

Did you indicate at the time of the application that your employee will take a TB (tuberculosis) test? Then have your employee  schedule an appointment at the Municipal Health Service (in Dutch: Gemeentelijke Gezondheidsdienst or GGD). The employee must do this within 3 months after your they received their residence permit. Your employee must take to the appointment:

Working with the residence permit

It says on the back of the residence permit whether there is an employment status. Work permit is not required for specific work, other work is allowed if a work permit has been granted. (In Dutch: TWV niet vereist voor specifieke arbeid, andere arbeid toegestaan mits TWV is verleend). This means that you do not need a work permit (in Dutch: tewerkstellingsvergunning or TWV) for your employee. Does the employee want to work at a company other than your start-up? Then the other employer will need a TWV.

Legal obligations

A sponsor has an obligation to provide information and an administrative obligation. An employee only has an obligation to provide information.

Read more about the legal obligations of the sponsor and the foreign national’s obligation to provide information. 

The IND checks whether you meet your obligations. If you do not, you may get an administrative fine

Validity of the residence permit

The term of validity of the residence permit depends on the term of the employment contract. The residence permit is valid for a maximum of 3 years. Afterwards you can extend the residence permit.

Other applications

Replace the residence permit

Has the residence permit been damaged, lost or stolen? Then have the residence permit replaced. Visit the web page Residence permit damaged or change of personal details  or Residence permit lost or stolen.

Extend the residence permit

Will the residence permit expire soon? Then you can extend  the residence permit. The allowed extension period depends on the term of the contract and has a maximum of 3 years.

Apply for a different residence permit

Has the pilot project ended? Or does the employee no longer work at the start-up, but the employee wants to stay in the Netherlands? Perhaps the employee can apply for a different residence permit.

Permanent residence permit

Have the 5 years in which a Dutch residence permit is valid expired? Meaning that your employee has been in the Netherlands for 5 years? Then the employee can apply for a permanent residence permit.