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As an EU Citizen, What Steps Can I Take to Bring My Unmarried Non-EU Partner to the Netherlands?

If you think of the Netherlands, pictures of windmills, wooden clogs, bicycles, tulips, Rembrandt, and the canals of Amsterdam may come to mind. But the Netherlands is much more than this. While it is rich in tradition and history, it is now considered the centre of the digital revolution, with a large number of innovation hubs, start-up incubators, top research universities, and one of the best internet infrastructures in the world. This will undoubtedly add to the prosperity and skilled job prospects for Dutch nationals and immigrants to the Netherlands in the coming years.

As if this was not enough, according to the OECD Better Life Index, the Netherlands now scores top in terms of work-life balance and above average in jobs, earnings, housing, education and skills, subjective well-being, social connections, environmental quality, personal security, civic engagement, and health status. And when asked to rank their general life satisfaction, Dutch nationals scored their country higher than the OECD average.

For these reasons and more, the Netherlands is attracting migrants not only from outside of the EU but also from other parts of the bloc. In many cases, those migrants will bring their family members with them to live in the Netherlands. In this article, we will discuss how a national of another country in the EU/EEA can bring an unmarried partner who is from outside of the EU/EEA to live with them in the Netherlands.

Can a non-EEA citizen join their EU national partner living in the Netherlands?

Yes, it is possible for a person from outside of the European Economic Area (EEA) to live in the Netherlands with their EU partner. EU citizens have the right to live and work in the Netherlands without applying for a resident permit. Their passport or ID card is sufficient to show that they have permission to stay. The same does not, however, apply to non-EEA/EU partners of EU citizens exercising their treaty rights in the Netherlands. For this reason, non-EEA/EU nationals must apply for a residence permit.

What are the eligibility criteria for a residence permit as a non-EEA partner of an EU citizen?

There are two sets of criteria that apply in this scenario. Firstly, the non-EEA partner must satisfy the Immigration and Naturalisation Service (INS) that:

  • They are the spouse/registered partner or unmarried partner of an EU/EEA citizen or Swiss national.
  • They have lived with their EU partner for at least six months, or if they have a child together.
  • They hold a valid passport or another travel document
  • They must not pose a threat to public order or national security - when determining your application, the INS will verify that you do not pose a threat to public order by checking if you have any committed any criminal offences.

Secondly, the EU partner living in the Netherlands will need to satisfy the INS that:

  • They are a national of an EU/EEA Member State or Switzerland.
  • They have lawful residence in the Netherlands (this can be proven by providing a copy of their registration)
  • They are in employment or they have sufficient resources to support themselves and their partner (this means they work at least 40% of the usual full working hours or their income from work is at least 50% of the appropriate social welfare benefits standard).

How can a non-EEA citizen apply to join their EU partner in the Netherlands?

There are a number of steps which you will need to complete to secure a residence permit:

  1. Check if you need a visa to enter the Netherlands – if you are from a country from outside of the Schengen area, or one which is not a party to the agreement, then you will need to apply for a free of charge Schengen visa type C. This is also referred to as a ‘facilitation visa’. This allows a non-EEA citizen to enter and stay in the Netherlands for up to 90 days in any 180-day period. If you do not require a visa to enter the Netherlands, you will need to show your passport or travel ID and proof that you are a family member of an EU/EEA or Swiss citizen.
  2. Apply for your residence permit (‘Verification against EU Law certificate of lawful residence)’. You can apply for this online . You will also need to make an appointment with an INS desk where you will submit your application, pay your fees, and provide your photo and fingerprints. You will be given a residence endorsement sticker which will be placed into your passport by the INS. The application fee is €58.
  3. Wait for a decision on your application – once the INS have confirmed receipt of your application and they are satisfied the necessary documents have been provided, you will then need to wait for a decision (this can take up to six months).
  4. Collect your residence permit (within two weeks of a positive decision) from an INS desk - you will need to make an appointment with the INS desk stated on your acceptance letter to collect your residence permit.
  5. You will need to register in the Municipal Personal Records Database (BRP) in your local municipality.
  6. As a condition of your residence visa, you will also need to take out health insurance to cover your healthcare costs within four months of arriving in the Netherlands.

Final Words

While the application fee for a non-EEA partner visa of an EU national is inexpensive when compared to other countries, there is potentially a long wait time to receive a decision from the INS. To minimise this waiting time, it is important that you provide all of the information required by the INS at the time of application. It is also advisable to have your application checked over by a team of immigration Solicitors who can ensure that you meet the eligibility criteria and that all information has been provided. As with many aspects of immigration law, it pays to be thorough and detailed in your application.


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