The measures that governments have taken to control the outbreak of the COVID 19 virus have a serious impact on the travel and start dates of foreign employees.
We understand that the current situation raises a considerable number of immigration-related questions. Whether it is a newly hired foreign employee with questions regarding the possible start date in the Netherlands or a foreign national already in the Netherlands wondering whether he/she will still be able to fulfil the conditions of his/her residence permit. Below, we have highlighted some of the measures and the consequences thereof.
Travel ban for the Schengen Area
The EU has issued a temporary restriction for all non-essential travel from third countries to Europe (all EU member states, all Schengen member states and the UK). The temporary travel restriction is in effect from March 19th, 2020 and has recently been extended until May 15th, 2020. In order to drastically prevent further spread of the virus, exceptions are limited to travel for essential purposes.
- EU citizens (including UK nationals) and their family members;
- Citizens of the Schengen Associated States (Nationals of Norway, Iceland, Switzerland, Liechtenstein) and their family members;
- Holders of a permanent EU residence permit;
- Third country nationals with a valid EU member state residence permit;
- Holders of a long-stay visa (D) including persons with an MVV.
Third country nationals not in possession of an MVV will not be allowed entry. This includes persons with a positive decision on a Dutch residence permit application. Furthermore, we would like to highlight that third country national business visitors will not be allowed entry since business visits are regarded as non-essential travel. This restriction also applies in case they have a valid Schengen visa in their passport. For the latest information and other information on the travel ban, we advise you to check the following website of the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
New immigration applications?
Although the majority of IND desks are temporarily closed, you can still start the immigration application process online, as per normal. Depending on the nationality and country of current residence there may however be a delay in the processing and collection process. Also take into account difficulties in travel and entry.
Foreign nationals (EU and non-EU) who temporarily work remotely because their relocation date has been delayed will not have issues from a Dutch immigration perspective, as long as the foreign national is working in their country of nationality. In case a Dutch residence permit is granted and the arrival date is delayed, the Dutch Immigration authorities will need to be notified about the change in the arrival date.
There may, however, be tax and social security implications when your employees work remotely. Non-residents with a Dutch employer, for example, are only taxable on the Dutch days worked. So if they work remotely they can, in principle, remain subject to tax in their home country and cannot really profit from the 30%-ruling in the Netherlands.
Start date delayed
A change in start date has to be notified to the IND within 4 weeks as of the change. Even when no definitive -feasible- new start date has been agreed upon, we advise to notify the IND within the legal term of 4 weeks. When you have more clarity on the definite start date, the IND can be notified again, if needed.
Closure of Dutch diplomatic consular offices
All Dutch diplomatic consular offices are closed until further notice. This means, amongst others, that the collection of long term entry visas (MVVs) temporarily cannot take place. The collection of the MVV must, in principle, take place within 90 days of the approval from the Dutch Immigration authorities. However, this period will be extended with another 90 days in case the applicant can prove that collection of the MVV could not take place due to the Corona virus measures.
Since we do expect a shortage of available time-slots after re-opening of the Dutch consular offices, we advise to regular check the Embassies websites for available time-slots. Also take into account a delay in further processing the MVV due to a backlog in applications. We expect in some cases it will take longer than the usual 10 workdays before the MVV can be collected.
Validation of the MVV
From the date the MVV is issued (placed in the passport), a foreign national has 90 days to travel to the Netherlands. It is not possible to extend the validity of the MVV. However, it is possible to request for the MVV to be issued again in case the applicant can prove that travel to the Netherlands was not possible due to restrictions on travel or personal safety considerations. In this case, the applicant will have to schedule a new appointment with the Dutch diplomatic post as soon as the consular section re-opens.
Closure of the Dutch IND desks
The Dutch IND has also adjusted their services. One of the adjustments is the closure of the IND desks until at least May 19th, 2020. This means, for example, that it is no longer possible to collect a Dutch (extended) residence permit. On the IND website it is indicated that an appointment can still be schedule for the collection of a first residence permit, under the condition that the applicant has travelled to the Netherlands with an MVV. In some cases, we have experienced that the collection of the residence permit is still not possible. Therefore, we advise to call the IND desk first to verify whether the residence permit is ready for collection.
In case the renewed residence permit cannot be collected before the current permit expires, the IND has confirmed that all legal rights associated with your extended permit are preserved. These rights are mentioned in the decision letter. It is therefore advisable to carry a copy of this letter with you in case the residence permit has expired.
Minimum gross salary requirement Highly Skilled Migrant (HSM) permit
We would like to remind you that the minimum gross monthly salary thresholds for obtaining and maintaining the HSM residence permit remain unchanged. The same applies for other residence permit categories such as Blue Card or ICT. This means that changes in the gross salary as a result of (temporary) part-time work or unpaid sabbatical leave, for example, may influence the validity of the HSM residence permit. The IND needs to be notified about changes that influence the validity of the HSM residence permit within 4 weeks.
Recently the Dutch government has announced that an exception to the above is made for employees who do not meet the gross monthly salary threshold because they receive benefits from the UWV based on the short-time working scheme (werktijdverkorting). In these cases the Dutch Inspectorate SZW will refrain from enforcing fines.
Please contact our office if you have any questions in this regard.
For other relevant information we advise you to check this website of the Dutch Immigration authorities.