How to land a sponsored job in the Netherlands

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When considering getting a visa for the Netherlands, the thought may have crossed your mind: “Can I just get a sponsored visa for my work?”

It may seem like an easy route; find a job, snap up an easy visa, and maybe even have your employer pay for your relocation costs to Holland. In practice — sadly, it’s not that easy. 

Sponsored jobs are few and far between in the Netherlands, thanks to a highly proficient workforce of Dutchies, and a work pool that includes almost the entire European Union. 

However, don’t despair. It is possible to find success in landing a sponsored job in the Netherlands. If not, there are almost always other ways to work in the Netherlands!  

We teamed up with our friends at Undutchables for this article, because their team know more about getting employed in the Netherlands than we could ever hope to! If you’re looking for a job in the Netherlands we highly recommend getting in touch 🇳🇱 🎉.

What is a sponsored job?

Let’s jump into the basics first. A sponsored job refers to employment that is sponsored by your employer. Essentially, a company, university, or research institution in the Netherlands wants you, an international, to come and work for them. 

This employer loves you so much and thinks you’ll do such an amazing job that they’re willing to go to vouch for you at immigration just to get you a visa to work in the country. Pretty sweet deal right? 

READ MORE | 10 things to know before finding work in the Netherlands as an international

But there is one main caveat: not every employer can sponsor someone for a job. In most cases, they first must be considered a recognised sponsor by the Dutch immigration department (IND). We’ll tell you exactly what a “recognised sponsor” is later.

What is the benefit of getting a sponsored job in Holland?

By gaining a sponsored job in Holland your life will generally be a lot easier than by taking another visa route. If you become employed by a recognised sponsor, you’ll enjoy a fast-tracked application for your work visa from the IND (Dutch Immigration Department). It will only take around two weeks to get a visa, instead of three months!

For you, that means less waiting around to get your visa, and a quicker chance to jump straight into your new job (and new Dutch life!)

There are other benefits too. For example, if you arrive to work for a recognised sponsor and you’re considered a Highly Skilled Migrant or have a European Blue Card, your employer has to give you a pretty decent wage:

Visa/Permit TypeMinimum Salary
Highly skilled migrants 30 years or older​€4,752 gross per month
​Highly skilled migrants younger than 30 years​€3,484 gross per month
​Reduced salary criterion€2,497 gross per month
European Blue Card€5,567 gross per month

Compare that to the Dutch minimum wage of €1,680 gross per month. 

Is it difficult to get a sponsored job in the Netherlands?

This is the bad part — it’s not particularly easy to snatch up a sponsored job in the Netherlands. Some jobs are easier than others: for example, those arriving as an au pair often work through an agency that is a recognised sponsor, and there are typically more jobs available for au pairs than other professions. 

READ MORE | The work-life balance in the Netherlands is the best in the world

However, if you’re in a field that has a lot of competition, particularly in the local market, some employers don’t want to go through the hassle of applying for sponsorship when they have a willing market of workers right in front of them. 

Considering the Schengen agreement made it possible for anyone in the Schengen Zone (26 European countries!) to live and work in the Netherlands, this (unfortunately) happens more often than you think. 

How can I get a sponsored job in the Netherlands? 

However, if you think you’ve got a competitive edge or are trained in a much-needed workforce, you may have better luck. So what options will you have? Let’s take a look.

Highly-skilled migrant (Kennismigrant)

A highly skilled migrant (HSM) visa is one of the most common options for sponsored jobs in the Netherlands. 

This visa is for people who are not from the EU, Liechtenstein, Norway, Iceland, or Switzerland, who are highly educated, and who are deemed to contribute to the Dutch knowledge-based economy. For example (but not limited to), a university lecturer, a scientific researcher, or a doctor in training. 

To be eligible as a highly-skilled migrant, the migrant needs to: 

Other paid employment (Andere arbeid in loondienst)

If you don’t qualify as a highly-skilled migrant, your employer can also apply under other paid employment — or andere arbeid in loondienst

This is difficult because you first must prove that no one in the local labour market can fill the position your employer is offering you. 

The IND will seek confirmation from this from the UWV (Employee Insurance Agency). If the UWV decides that there are suitable job seekers in the Netherlands for the position, it will advise the IND — and your application will be rejected. Ouch!

However, there are some exceptions to the labour market test. For example, top athletes, spiritual ministers, musicians, or chefs for Asian restaurants don’t need to be referred to the UWV.   

Other visa options for a sponsored job

If you find that you’re not eligible for the highly skilled migrant visa or a different paid employment visa, don’t stress. You can also consider: 

  • A European Blue Card — similar to the highly skilled migrant visa, the European Blue Card is for people who are well-educated. However, most people prefer the HSM visa for the lower minimum salary, a quicker approval process, and fewer document requirements. 
  • Intra Corporate Transferee (Directive 2014/66/EU) — for employees at a company outside the EU who are being transferred as a trainee, manager, or specialist to a branch in the Netherlands. 
  • Researcher within the meaning of Council Directive (EU) 2016/801 —  despite the long name, this is pretty simple: this visa is for researchers who are employed by a recognised sponsor and who will be paid with a grant or salary. 
  • Orientation year highly educated persons (zoekjaar)  — if you haven’t landed a job, but you have graduated, obtained a PhD, or performed scientific research in the Netherlands, you may be eligible for a zoekjaar visa. With this, you can live and work in the Netherlands for up to one year while trying to find a more long-term option. 

What is a recognised sponsor — and why is it important? 

We’ve been throwing around this “recognised sponsor” term throughout this article, so you’ve probably figured it’s pretty essential — and you’re correct. 

A recognised sponsor is an organisation who has been applied to and been accepted by the IND and therefore benefits from streamlined visa applications for their international employees. 

If you’re applying as a highly skilled migrant or a researcher, your employer must be a recognised sponsor. 

However, if you apply as an Intra Corporate Transferee, European Blue Card, or for other work in paid employment, your employer doesn’t need to be a recognised sponsor, but can just be a sponsor

There are plenty of recognised sponsors already. According to the IND, there are:

  • over 80 recognised sponsors which are registered educational institutions
  • over 30 companies recognized as sponsors for au pairs. 
  • over 9,000 companies who can sponsor labor or highly skilled migrants
  • over 130 recognized sponsors for research purposes under the Public Register Researcher Directive EU 2016/801.

Some major companies or companies that hire internationals regularly may already be a recognised sponsor. Otherwise, they need to apply, be approved, and pay a significant fee. 

Can my employer become a recognised sponsor?

Almost any company can apply to be a recognised sponsor, but they do have to fulfil some requirements. There’s a long list of conditions to become a recognised sponsor, including things like being listed on the Commercial Register and being in good financial standing. 

There’s also a hefty fee — €4017 in 2020. However, that fee is reduced to just €2008 if the company has less than 50 employees. 

Does my company need to be the recognised sponsor? 

Actually, no. If you want to be sponsored for a job in the Netherlands your employer doesn’t have to be the registered sponsor. Instead,  you can go through an umbrella company, or in some rarer cases, a recruitment agency. 

How to use an umbrella company or recruitment agency as a recognised sponsor

An umbrella company is a company who “hires” you on behalf of your actual employer. These are often considered as support (or workarounds) for visa, tax, or payroll issues. 

Your potential employer may suggest using an umbrella company, or you could also suggest it as an option. These companies act as your employer, apply to the IND as a recognised sponsor, then have a contract with the company you want to work with for you to work at that company instead. Of course, there are some fees involved with this, so you may end up taking a pay cut. 

photo-of-man-with-sponsored-job-in-netherlands-smiling-holding-coffee
The work-life balance in the Netherlands is among the best in the world — just look at this guy! Image: Andrea Piacquadio/Pexels

Recruitment agencies generally work in a similar way. However, getting a sponsored job directly through your recruitment agency is less common. 

What companies are recognised sponsors in the Netherlands? 

There are thousands of companies who are already recognised sponsors by the IND. These include major companies like Allianz, Booking.com, bunq, Shell, Johnson & Johnson, and Netflix. 

If you’re curious to know if your potential company is already a recognised sponsor, you can check out the IND’s Public Register to find full lists of recognised sponsors in the Netherlands. 

What other options do I have to get a work visa in the Netherlands?

If none of the above options tickled your fancy, don’t stress. Even if you can’t land a sponsored job, there are still plenty of other visa options to work in the Netherlands

If you’re looking for the perfect non-Dutch speaking job in the Netherlands, check out Undutchables! They’re the expert recruitment agency for internationals in the Netherlands and are super helpful for anything to do with working in Holland. 

Were you lucky enough to land a sponsored job in the Netherlands? Share your experience in the comments below!

Feature Image: DutchReview

Samantha Dixon 🇦🇺
Sam isn’t great at being Dutch. Originally hailing from Australia, she came to study in the Netherlands without knowing where the country was on a map. She once accidentally ordered the entire ice-cream menu at Smullers. She still can’t jump on the back of a moving bike. But, she remains fascinated by the tiny land of tall people.

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