NETHERLANDS Immigration Updates
There have been recent developments in permits for entrepreneurs and investors.
A report from the State Secretary of Justice Fred Teeven (recently replaced by Klaas Dijkhoff for reasons not related to immigration policy) revealed the dramatically low success rate of the general permit scheme for entrepreneurs in recent years. On the positive side, two new category-specific entrepreneur schemes showed signs of life: the immigration scheme for start-up companies was kicked off with a bang effective January 1, 2015. The first-ever start-up permit was granted as early as the beginning of February. A few weeks later, in March, the “pure” investor scheme followed with its first-ever approved application. The latter scheme was introduced in 2013 but no applications were granted until now.
General Scheme for Entrepreneurs
The general entrepreneur scheme is mainly based on a business plan and financial forecasts. Points can be earned for (1) personal experience, (2) the business plan, and (3) added value for the Netherlands. The Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs allocates the points.
The State Secretary noted that approximately 1,000 entrepreneur visa applications per year are submitted to the Immigration Service (IND). Ninety percent of this number are from Turkish nationals, and “almost all of these applications are rejected.” The remaining 10 percent of applications are from Japanese, United States, and other third country nationals. Applications of Japanese and U.S. nationals are based on the Friendship and Trade Treaties and in principle always granted. The Ministry has not yet provided exact figures due to IT problems.
“Pure” Investors Scheme
The investor scheme, introduced in 2013, targets wealthy individuals who invest 1,250,000 euros in a Dutch company. Various methods are available, including a simple cash transfer to a Dutch bank account. A Dutch accounting firm with an international profile must declare the invested funds to “not be of illicit origin.” To check the financial information provided, the Dutch Financial Intelligence Units may contact authorities in the country of origin. The invested amount must add intrinsic value to the Dutch economy. Such added value is assumed if the investment is in a government-recognized seed fund, or in a private equity fund that is a member of the Dutch association of private equity funds. In other cases, the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs is called upon for an assessment of the intrinsic value.
Only a handful of applications were filed in 2013 and 2014, and none were granted in those years. The first successful application was submitted in October 2014 and was approved on March 18, 2015.
Startup Visa Scheme
The startup visa scheme was introduced in 2015. A startup visa can be issued to the owner(s) of startup companies that have been selected by and have signed a contract with a Dutch facilitator that offers support with setting up and growing new businesses. The facilitator must have an IND-approved track record; i.e., have accompanied startups already for at least two years and be in a good financial situation. The startup must substantiate that its product or service is innovative. All persons participating in the startup (e.g., as shareholders) are eligible for this visa. The startup visa is granted for one year and cannot be renewed.
The first application was filed on January 1, 2015, and was granted within five weeks. During that time, first the facilitator’s track record was approved and then the application of the startup was granted. In essence, the IND proved to be able to move very fast under this scheme.
Kroes Advocaten has been actively involved in policymaking toward the startup scheme. Both the first-ever startup permit and the first-ever investor permit were granted to clients of the firm.