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As a Spouse on a Dependant Visa, Can I Work in the Netherlands?

The Netherlands is currently enjoying high demand from migrant workers seeking a safe, culturally diverse, prosperous, and happy place to live. The Netherlands, according to the OECD Better Life Index is ranked top for work-life balance and above average for employment opportunities, income, housing, education, skills, well-being, social connections, environmental quality, personal security, civic engagement, and health status. And crucially, when asked about their overall level of life satisfaction, the Dutch score themselves higher than the OECD average. These are all crucial factors, especially if you are looking to relocate for work and to bring your family members with you. Every year, thousands of migrants from the EU and outside of the EU move to the Netherlands with their spouse/partner and/or children; either with the intention of staying temporarily before returning home or remaining for life.

In this article, we will discuss whether a non-EEA spouse, who is living with a Dutch partner or a person with a residence permit in the Netherlands, is able to work during their time in the country.

Residence in the Netherlands As a Spouse or Partner

The eligibility rules defined by the Immigration and Naturalisation Service allow a partner (who is from outside of the EU/EEA) of a Dutch national (or a person with a residence permit), to enter the country to live with that person if:

  • they are married or in a registered partnership, or unmarried but in a long-term and exclusive relationship
  • they are both 21 years or older
  • they are both going to live together in the Netherlands
  • they have taken and passed the civic integration examination or they are exempt from taking this examination.
  • if the Netherlands based partner only has a temporary residence permit for stay with a family member, or as an economically non-active long-term resident, or for a stay on non-temporary humanitarian grounds, they must have held that residence permit for a minimum of one year
  • your partner based in the Netherlands must have an independent sufficient and sustainable income
  • your partner based in the Netherlands declares that he or she is your sponsor

You will be required to take out health insurance to cover any potential costs of your healthcare while living in the Netherlands. In addition, on arrival in the Netherlands, you are legally required to register in the Municipal Personal Records Database (BRP) in your local municipality.

Can I work as a Partner or Spouse of a Dutch National or Person with a Residence Permit?

This depends on the conditions of the residence permit held by your partner in the Netherlands. The back of your own residence permit will tell you if you are allowed to work in the Netherlands, and if so, under what conditions.

Broadly speaking (but not always – see below), as a non-EEA spouse/partner of a person based in the Netherlands, you will be given the same rights to work as your partner.

If your partner is a Dutch citizen, whether, by birth or acquisition, the back of your residence permit should state the words ‘arbeid vrij toegestaan. TWV niet vereist’, which means “work freely allowed. TWV not required”. TWV stands for ‘tewerkstellingsvergunning’, which means work permit.

If your partner in the Netherlands is not a Dutch citizen, but they have a residence permit, the Dutch immigration service will give you the same work rights as your partner.

If your partner in the Netherlands requires a TWV to work, then you will also need a TWV to seek employment.

If your partner in the Netherlands is not permitted to work, then you will also not be able to work.

Under What Circumstances Will I Not Receive the Same Rights to Work as My Partner in the Netherlands?

The Immigration and Naturalisation Service may not grant you the same rights to work as your partner in the Netherlands if:

  • They have a residence permit as a highly-skilled migrant, scientific researcher or is holder of the European Blue Card. In this case, you will able to work freely without any restriction. If you are unsure, check your residence permit, which should state ‘arbeid vrij toegestaan. TWV niet vereist’
  • They have a residence permit for study. In this scenario, unfortunately, Dutch immigration rules prohibit you from working. Your residence permit will have the following words on the rear ‘arbeid niet toegestaan’ (work not allowed).
  • They have a Single Permit (GVVA) (this means ‘gecombineerde vergunning voor verblijf en arbeid’ or ‘combined residence and work permit’. If this is the case, you will only be allowed to work if your employer is able to provide you with a work permit. If this is the case, your residence permit will have the words 'arbeid toegestaan, mits TWV verleend' ('work allowed, work permit required').
  • Your partner has a residence permit for work as a self-employed. You are allowed to work without a TWV. Your residence permit should state ‘arbeid als zelfstandige toegestaan, arbeid vrij toegestaan, TWV niet vereist’, which translates as ‘work as a self-employed allowed. Paid work allowed free from restrictions, no work permit required’.

If you are in any way unsure of your right to work, or if you believe your right to work may be incorrect, it is advisable to speak to the INS who will able to confirm your correct status. It is extremely important that you do not start work if you not entitled to, or work outside of any restrictions which are imposed on you.

Final Words

The right to work rules for non-EEA nationals living with their sponsoring partner in the Netherlands is relatively straightforward. As with all aspects of immigration law, it is vital to ensure that you have the right to work before you actively start working. If you are unsure of your right to work, and if the INS in the Netherlands is unable to assist you, it is always recommended that you seek the advice of immigration solicitors.

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