Possibilities to start working in the Netherlands for Ukrainian refugees


With the war going on in Ukraine and millions of refugees fleeing their homes, European countries have taken unprecedented action to accommodate these refugees and help them rebuild their lives. The Dutch government has facilitated the free employment of Ukrainians in the Netherlands by dropping the work permit obligation, normally required for non-EU nationals, for Ukrainian refugees.

Archipel offers free-of-charge assistance in obtaining work permits in the Netherlands. Kindly read on for some initial information on working in the Netherlands and to find out how to contact us!

Ways to start working in the Netherlands

First of all: employers must register these refugees with the Netherlands Employees Insurance Agency (‘het UWV’) 2 days before they start working. In order to be registered with the Dutch authorities by your employer, you need to supply them with your Burgerservicenummer or ‘BSN’ (Dutch social security number). In order to obtain your BSN, you need to register yourself with the local municipality.

Refugees do not need to apply for a work permit under the following conditions:

  • The employee falls under the Temporary Protection Directive. In short, this means that the employee must either have the Ukrainian nationality, have lived in Ukraine for a certain period, or be the partner of a Ukrainian refugee. This gives them the right to work in the Netherlands. This exemption applies from April 1, 2022 with retroactive effect from March 4, 2022.
  • The employee has an employment contract with the employer concerned. This employer must therefore report this to the UWV, including a statement of (i) the duration and extent of the employment, (ii) the position and (iii) the salary.

Apart from these concessions, the ‘conventional’ possibilities to obtain a working visa in the Netherlands still exist, and might constitute to a more lasting solution. There are 2 options to obtain a 5 years-permit. The first one being the ‘Highly Skilled Migrants permit’ (‘HSM’) and the ‘Self-Employed Permit’. Summary of the main aspects and criteria of both permits below.

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There are certain criteria that apply to everyone:

  • You need to have an employment contract with an employer or research institution in the Netherlands. This employer is a recognized sponsor by the IND. Recognized employers are listed in the Public Register of Recognized Sponsors.
  • You are going to earn sufficient income.
    • >30 years old – €4,840 gross per month;
    • <30 years old – €3,549 gross per month;
    • Reduced salary criterion – €2,543 gross per month
      • The residence permit for employment as a highly skilled worker is applied for during or directly following the orientation year for highly educated persons; or
      • The highly skilled worker currently no longer has a residence permit for the orientation year for highly educated persons but previously had this permit. The residence permit for employment as a highly skilled worker is applied for within 3 years of the graduation date, the date on which the doctorate was awarded, or the date on which the residence permit for scientific research expired;
      • The highly skilled worker never had a residence permit for the orientation year for highly educated persons, but does meet the conditions for this residence purpose. This could for example be the case when the highly skilled worker has a PhD or conducted scientific research.
    • European Blue Card – €5,670 gross per month;
  • The agreed wage is in accordance with market conditions;
  • If you will be working as an individual healthcare professional you must be registered in the BIG-register (Individual Healthcare Professions).

The application for the HSM costs €345.

The second option to obtain a 5 years-permit (at most) is the Self-Employed permit.

Self-Employed Permit

If you’d like to work in the Netherlands as an independent entrepreneur the self employed permit is necessary.

What is the Self Employed permit?

  • This is a permit for self-employed persons, regardless of incorporation status.
  • The offered product or service must be ‘innovative’ in NL.
  • You need to have, or obtain, several clients in the Netherlands.
  • You need to have, or expect, a gross profit per month of at least € 1,285.96

When does it end?

  • If the activities in the Netherlands end, or, if that comes first;
  • After 5 years of living in NL.

What is the procedure?

  • File a business plan & request with the NL Enterprise Agency;
  • File a permit request with Immigrations and Naturalization Service & pay the process fee;
  • Decision follows within 90 days (max. 6-month extension);
  • After grant, pick up the permit within 3 months from decision & register the business with the Chamber of Commerce;

Note that this application costs € 1446 at the Immigration and Naturalization Service.

What can we do for you?

Archipel offers free assistance with advising on- and assisting with obtaining any of the abovementioned visas and obtaining the BSN from the local municipality. There must be a million other things on your mind and we would like to help you with re-building your life, in the Netherlands.

Kindly reach out to Pieter van Tilburg to obtain our assistance, or if you just have some questions.

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