The Netherlands: Tighter Conditions for Residence Permits
The Dutch government has announced changes to the conditions for family migration to the Netherlands which will take effect on October 1, 2012.1
The changes will only affect applications that are covered by national law and don’t apply to applications governed by European Union (EU) law.2
We discuss below the most important changes that will affect international assignees who are relocating to the Netherlands and attempting to bring in their spouses/partners and other family members.
Family Migration Restricted to Nuclear (Immediate) Family Only
The term “nuclear family” refers only to the husband or wife and minor children. This means that as of October 1, only married partners or partners with an official domestic partnership can qualify for a permit to stay (verblijfsvergunning) in the context of family formation or reunion (in other words, bringing into the Netherlands their family members). The “family tie” must be proved by way of a legalized marriage certificate or partnership deed.
Non-married partners will no longer qualify for a residence permit in the context of family formation or reunion.
Temporary ‘Marriage Permit’
An exception to the above rules is made for same-sex partners or partners of different religions who are unable to marry in their country of origin due to legal impediments. Such individuals can apply to the Dutch authorities for a temporary ”marriage permit.” The objective of this permit is to allow a marriage or registered partnership to be entered into in the Netherlands.
The marriage permit is only granted if it has been proven that domestic legislation in the country of origin has made it impossible to marry or enter into a registered partnership. In addition to the general conditions for residence in the Netherlands, both partners must be older than 21 and must be able to prove that they are not married.
This permit is granted for a maximum six-month period and cannot be extended. Only if the partners enter into a marriage or registered partnership in the Netherlands during this period can the temporary marriage permit be changed to a residence permit for a stay with the spouse or partner.
In addition, after October 1, only minor children can accompany their parents to the Netherlands as the special rules for extended family reunification that included children above the age of majority (age 18) as well as single elderly dependent parents will be eliminated.
Permit for a Prolonged Family Visit Will No Longer Be Granted
Family members (e.g., cousin, aunt, uncle, etc.) will no longer be able to apply for a residence permit for a prolonged family visit of up to six months with an (extended) family member who is living in the Netherlands. As such, these family members, after October 1, can only come to the Netherlands for short visits, i.e., any visits within the visa-waiver period (for which no residence permit is required), or within the terms of the Schengen visa.3
• Introduction of a waiting period before one can become a sponsor for his/her family member.
KPMG Note: The introduction of this waiting period will not have a large impact on international assignees as it does not apply to Highly Skilled Migrants (HSM) or Blue Card Holders. Most international assignees are covered under the HSM scheme.
• Extension of the period for a family member to qualify for an independent residence permit to five years of legal residence in the Netherlands.
KPMG Note: This does not affect the rules for admittance, but it affects the accrual of residential rights for the Netherlands while one is living in the Netherlands. The extension of the required period for independent status will not have a significant effect on international assignments as it will remain possible to stay in the Netherlands under the ”dependant” status.
Assessment under Current Policy
All applications filed before October 1, 2012, will be assessed under current policy. This also applies if an application for the issuance of an ”authorization for temporary residence” visa (machtiging tot voorlopig verblijf; “MVV visa”) was filed before October 1, but the applicant only arrived in the Netherlands after October 1.
Individuals holding a residence permit whose purpose of stay expires after October 1 will retain their current permits and are entitled to have them extended even after October 1. For example, a child above the age of majority who currently holds a permit for residing with his/her parent can be granted an extension under the same terms.
Effective October 1, when assigning staff to the Netherlands, it will no longer be self-evident that the employee may bring his or her (unmarried) partner. Couples may be obliged to enter into a marriage prior to relocating to the Netherlands. Also, special attention may be required in cases where companies assign staff with children that are already at or above, or are about to reach, the age of majority (age 18). For them, other options, e.g., a permit to study in the Netherlands, may offer a solution.