Header - working as an expat with Tentoo - highly skilled migrants

Working as an expat

If you want to work in The Netherlands as a foreign worker, there are several options with different requirements for you and your employer which have to be applied. If this is not done, you are working illegally in The Netherlands. And that can be heavily penalised by the Dutch tax authorities. These fines are very high and can be issued to you and your employer. If you want to be absolutely sure you are not running any legal or financial risk, Tentoo can help. When you have found an employer, we can provide a Dutch payrolling contract. The result is a focus on mutual cooperation for employee and employer.

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Highly skilled migrants

Expat or Highly skilled migrant?

When we use the word expat or labour migrant, it’s a synonymous for foreign employee. We also talk about highly skilled migrants or knowledgde migrants; this is a specific group of expats. The highly skilled migrant is distinguished from the ‘regular’ migrant worker by a high level of education and specialist knowledge.

Growing numbers of highly skilled people from outside the EU are choosing to come to the Netherlands, where this group of migrant workers are known as ‘highly skilled migrants’ or ‘knowledge migrants’. The Netherlands has a special highly skilled migrant program and boasts plenty of attractive job opportunities. A highly skilled migrant who comes to the Netherlands requires a residence permit. Highly skilled migrants are increasingly popular at Dutch companies who are faced with a scarcity of highly skilled Dutch workers for more and more roles.


You can only come to the Netherlands to work as a highly skilled migrant if your employer is recognised by the Immigration and Naturalisation Service (IND). Many highly skilled workers therefore choose to work via dutch payroll company Tentoo for our payroll services. We are recognised by the IND and you can work via us for companies that are not recognised by the IND. Moreover, we assist highly skilled migrants with all the paperwork and procedures involved in coming to the Netherlands, such as application for the Entry & Residence Procedure (TEV). Handy for employer and highly skilled migrant alike.

Knowledge Migrant Ruling 2024

The Netherlands has a program for highly skilled migrants. The program makes it easier and faster for companies to bring highly skilled workers from outside the EU to the Netherlands. Furthermore, highly skilled migrants benefit from special minimum salary arrangements under this program.

Among other things, the program for highly skilled migrants streamlines the admission requirements for highly skilled migrants. For example, ‘regular’ employees from outside the EU as a rule require a work permit to work in the Netherlands, while this is not usually the case for highly skilled migrants. Moreover, highly skilled migrants benefit from a fast-track admission procedure. Both the highly skilled migrant and employer must meet a number of conditions.

Highly skilled migrant program

The Netherlands has a program for highly skilled migrants. This program makes it even more attractive for Dutch companies to employ highly skilled migrants. Application for this program makes it easier for companies to employ highly skilled migrants and offers highly skilled migrants special minimum salary levels. Furthermore, the 30% rule makes working in the Netherlands ever more attractive from a tax perspective.

Program conditions

The highly skilled migrant program is not open to all companies. Furthermore, not every highly skilled migrant from outside the EU is eligible under this program. The most important conditions are as follows:

  • The employer is recognised by the Immigration and Naturalisation Service (IND) and has a residence permit (a permanent or temporary residence).
  • The highly skilled migrant has an employment agreement with a Dutch employer for a duration of at least three months.
  • The employer pays at least the minimum salary applicable to the highly skilled migrant.
  • The highly skilled migrant has a valid passport, a healthcare insurance policy taken out in the Netherlands and does not constitute a risk to national security.
Search year

Different rules apply to students from outside the EU who are graduating from a Dutch institution of higher education. They have one year in which to find a job as a highly skilled migrant. This year is referred to as the search year. If they succeed in finding a job, they will also be subject to the minimum income limit.

Positive impact

Highly skilled migrants have a positive impact on the Netherlands. The Dutch government established the highly skilled migrant program to attract more international talent to the Netherlands. The Netherlands is delighted with the boost given to the Dutch economy, higher education and national prosperity by highly skilled migrants.


How do we help expats?

How do we help you?

For the foreign worker, the payroll service company Tentoo will ensure that:

  • Contract and payments are made in accordance with Dutch law and comply with enforcement measures of the agreement between the employee and the customer.
  • The necessary arrangements are made for specific Dutch tax benefits, such as the 30% rule, work permit or obtaining a social security number.
  • Salary (and net salary) is checked in advance, before cooperation between employer and employees begin.

How do we help your employer?

For your employer, Tentoo will ensure that:

  • The foreign worker (you) has passed the ID screening and can legally work in The Netherlands, as per Dutch labour law.
  • We work with transparent contracts for all parties which ensure you pay the best price for payrolling.

Minimum salaries

Salary Criteria Knowledge Migrant

If you are coming to work in the Netherlands as a highly skilled migrant, you will be earning a relatively high minimum salary. Employers must pay the salaries set out in the highly skilled migrant program. These minimum salaries are as follows:

  • Highly skilled migrants younger than 30: €3.909 gross per month;
  • Highly skilled migrants 30 and older: €5.331 gross per month;
  • Highly skilled migrants in their job-seeking year: €2.801 gross per month; These are highly skilled migrants who take up employment in the Netherlands within one year of having completed an accredited study programme at a Dutch institution of higher education.
Annual indexation

If you as a highly skilled migrant turn 30 during the term of the contract, nothing will change. The highly skilled migrant salary for those 30 and older will only apply when you sign a new contract. The salaries for highly skilled migrants are indexed annually.


The minimum salaries do not apply if you are coming to the Netherlands to work as:

  • a PhD candidate at a university or research institution
  • doctor training to be a medical specialist
  • guest lecturer

These positions are subject to the standard minimum salary.

Why a higher minimum salary?

You as a highly skilled migrant from outside the EU are subject to a higher minimum salary than employees with Dutch nationality. Why is that? Companies with job vacancies must first try to fill them with people resident in the Netherlands (or the EU) and only then are they ‘allowed’ to look for employees from outside Europe.

30% tax rule

You may also be eligible for the 30% tax rule. In many cases, 30% of an expat’s salary is exempt from tax during the first 20 months.The 20 months after that, they can receive 20% of the salary tax-free. The next 20 months this will be 10%.This rule intends to compensate expats for the additional expenses they incur, such as relocation costs, language courses or flights back home. Tentoo can find this out and arrange all of this for you.

More information

Types of Visa for Knowledge Migrants

As someone from outside the EU, you require one or more permits to work in the Netherlands. What are the various residence permits for work and to whom do they apply, and for how long?

Your employer in the Netherlands needs to apply for a residence permit if he intends to hire an employee from abroad. The residency permit your employer applies for may be a short-stay visa, a work permit for persons from outside the European Economic Area (TWV), a combined work and residence permit (GVVA) or an EU Blue Card. Let’s look at the most common types.

Short-stay visa

A short-stay visa grants you the right to stay in the Netherlands for a maximum of three months. This is ideal if you are coming to work as a highly skilled worker for a short period or visiting the Netherlands on business. You can apply for this visa from the Dutch Embassy in your country. The purpose of your trip must be clear. This visa is available to residents of almost 70 non-EU countries.

Provisional residence permit (MVV)

If you are from outside the EU and wish to stay in the Netherlands for longer than three months, you will need an ‘MVV’, or provisional residence permit. A residence permit can be applied for directly if you apply for this visa via the entry and residence procedure. You must indicate your purpose for being in the Netherlands.


TWV stands for employment permit for persons from outside the European Economic Area. Your employer can apply for a TWV from the Employee Insurance Agency (UWV). As part of the application procedure, your eligibility as a prospective employee who serves a ‘genuine Dutch interest’ will be assessed. In essence, this assessment considers whether your prospective employer really is unable to find suitable personnel in the Netherlands or elsewhere in the EU. A highly skilled migrant does not require a TWV.


GVVA stands for a combined residence and employment permit. An employer applies for this permit from the Immigration and Naturalisation Service (IND) if the migrant worker is to be employed for longer than three months. The IND assesses whether you, as a prospective employee, serve a ‘genuine Dutch interest’ (the important consideration here again is whether the employer really is unable to find suitable personal in the Netherlands or elsewhere in the EU).

The permit consists of a residence document for you as the employee and a supplementary document for you and your employer. This supplementary document indicates which employer you are allowed to work for as a migrant worker and under which conditions. The GVVA is not issued to highly skilled migrants, but to ‘regular’ workers not originating from from the EEA or Switzerland.

There is an exception for some migrant workers for whom no work permit (TWV or GVVA) is necessary, as is the case for highly skilled migrants.

Permits for highly skilled migrants

Employees who wish to hire you as a highly skilled migrant must start an entry and residence procedure at the IND. This option is only open to employers who are recognised by the IND. The IND will investigate whether there are any objections to admission on the grounds of public order or security risks. This procedure takes around two weeks. If the investigation produces a positive result and you meet the other conditions for highly skilled workers from abroad, you can pick up an MVV from the Dutch Embassy in your country. This document will allow you to travel to the Netherlands and pick up your residence permit from the IND.

If you do not require an MVV, your employer can start the application procedure for your work permit while you are in the Netherlands as a highly skilled migrant.

EU Blue Card

In addition to the Dutch highly skilled migrant scheme, there is a European scheme for highly skilled migrants: the EU Blue Card. To be eligible for an EU Blue Card, highly skilled migrants must:

  • have completed a three-year Bachelor’s study program
  • hold a degree certificate whose credentials are recognised by the International Credential Evaluation (IDW) service
  • earn at least €5,567 gross per month

This is a higher income and education requirement than required of regular highly skilled migrants. Holders of an EU Blue Card have a faster track to permanent residency than highly skilled migrants coming to and working in the Netherlands under the Dutch program.


Good employership

Good employership is very important to us. As a payroll agency, we guarantee that each knowledge migrant working for a client through our organisation really is legally employed. We also ensure that all ‘our’ migrant workers benefit from all the available tax advantages.

It’s understandable that non-Dutch employees like you have a lot of questions. You’re working at a new company in a new country, with new colleagues and new customs, values and standards. And on top of all that, you’re faced with all the paperwork, such as your residence permit, employment contract and your gross or net salary. We’ll be happy to help you with all this, and we’re always here to answer any questions you might have. For example, as a contractor payroll solutions, we can tell you more about payroll services netherlands, dutch payroll, payroll company netherlands, payroll companies or payroll services holland.


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