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Are Non-EU/EEA Citizens Allowed to Apply for a Permanent Residence Permit in the Netherlands?

The Netherlands is becoming increasingly popular with migrants looking for a safe, stable, prosperous, and culturally rich country to live and raise their families. The facts speak for themselves; the Netherlands has been ranked by the OECD Better Life Index as number one for work-life balance, and above average for jobs and earnings, housing, education and skills, subjective well-being, social connections, environmental quality, personal security, civic engagement, and health status. On a scale of 0 – 10, citizens of the Netherlands scored their country 9.5 for work-life balance, 9.3 for life satisfaction, and 9.2 for safety.

According to EU statistics, there are approximately one million non-nationals living in the Netherlands, almost equally split between EU and non-EU nationals. If you are a non-EU/EEA citizen who has been living in the Netherlands for a while, you may be wondering whether you can now, or at some point in the future, apply for permanent residency. In this article, we will explain the immigration rules that apply for permanent residency for non-EEA/EU nationals, and how you can apply when you are ready to do so. The guidance in this blog is only for non-EEA/EU nationals; different guidance applies to EEA/EU/Swiss citizens and those with an asylum residence permit.

What are the advantages of permanent residency in the Netherlands?

The permanent residency offers a host of benefits, not least that you will be free of immigration control and can remain for the rest of your life. It can only be cancelled if the individual commits a serious crime and/or becomes a risk to public safety or security. In addition, with permanent residency, you are one step closer to acquiring citizenship of the Netherlands if this is something you aspire to. You will be free to find a job with any employer, and if you choose, switch jobs or employers.

Am I eligible to apply for Permanent Residency in the Netherlands as a non-EEA/EU citizen?

The immigration system in the Netherlands makes it relatively simple to acquire permanent residency. Most migrants will be eligible for permanent residence status if they have been living in the Netherlands for five or more years.

There are two main routes to permanent residence in the Netherlands, as follows:

The long-term resident EC route

This route to permanent residency is based on EU law and enables you to more easily apply for a residence permit in another EU country. For example, if you were to apply for unlimited leave to remain for the UK. In addition, you will not need to meet the conditions defined by that country for a residence permit.

In order to apply under this route, you will need to satisfy the following eligibility criteria:

  • You must have held a residence permit for the Netherlands for a period of five years or more
  • You must not have breached the conditions of your residence permit at any time, and you must still meet the conditions of your permit.
  • The residence permit you have held for the past five years must have been for a non-temporary purpose. During the five years, you must not have stayed outside the Netherlands for six or more consecutive months, or ten or more months in total. Any period with a residence permit for a temporary purpose will not count towards your continuous residence in the Netherlands. There is one exception; 50% of the time on a study residence permit can be used to contribute towards the five years
  • Your five years in the Netherlands must have been uninterrupted
  • You must be formally registered on the Municipal Personal Records Database (BRP) in your municipality.
  • You have an independent sufficient and sustainable income.
  • You must also have a ‘civic integration diploma’ proving that you can read, write, speak, and understand the Dutch language to a sufficient level (there are some exceptions to this requirement).

Permanent Residence Permit (Based on The Law of The Netherlands)

The second option to acquire permanent residence in the Netherlands is to apply for a permanent residence permit under Dutch law. The eligibility criteria for permanent residence permits are defined by the Immigration and Naturalisation Service and are broadly the same as those for the long-term resident EC route above.

The Dutch eligibility requirements also stipulate that only the years living in the Netherlands from the age of eight counts towards the five years; hence the earliest anyone can apply under this route is at the age of 13 years.

Meeting the income requirement for permanent residence in the Netherlands

The income requirements are the same for both permanent residence routes, as are as follows:

  • you must have an independent income – i.e. it is income from employment, self-employment, benefits, or your own funds (e.g. interest on savings or dividends)
  • your income must be sustainable - this depends on the type of income; for example, if you are employed, your income is sustainable if you will receive that amount for at least another 12 months, i.e. you have an open-ended contract (permanent contract) or a temporary contract that is still valid for at least 12 months.
  • you have sufficient annual income - this means that you must have an income of at least 70% of the statutory minimum wage (you will need to check online for the correct amount).

Wrapping up

The eligibility rules are similar for both the EU and Dutch routes to permanent residency in the Netherlands. If you are unsure which permit to apply for, it is advisable to speak to immigration Solicitors who will be able to assist you based on your individual circumstances. Given the importance of securing permanent residence for you and your family, and the time and costs involved in applying, it is important to make sure your application is correct and has the best chance of receiving a positive decision from the immigration and naturalisation service.

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