In The Netherlands, the Highly Skilled Migrant scheme serves to attract professionals with expertise employers are unable to find within the Dutch or the European labour market.

The scheme, which is also meant to be an incentive for foreign professionals, is a way to strengthen the Dutch economy while providing an attractive salary and tax incentive to the potential employee.

Today, according to Statistics Netherlands (CBS), around 40,020 highly skilled migrants from outside the EU/EFTA were living in the Netherlands for 2022. If you are:

  • moving to The Netherlands,
  • an expat living in The Netherlands,
  • finishing studies in a Dutch academic institution,
  • or an employer looking for employees with specific expertise,

understanding the Highly Skilled Migrant scheme and whether you can apply, will open new doors to professional and economic opportunities.

What is a Highly Skilled Migrant?

Highly skilled migrants (HSM) in the Netherlands are defined by IND as “an employee who works for a recognized sponsor on the basis of a work contract and fulfill specific age, salary and experience requirements.”

Additionally, highly skilled migrants are immigrants from outside the EU (incl. Switzerland) who have permission to work in the Netherlands because of their (scientific), professional, and academic knowledge or skill. This skill or experience, which the foreign professional possesses, is not currently available in the Dutch or European workforce.

Once recognized as a HSM, certain benefits come into play.

For example, you enjoy a special status within Dutch law, which includes not needing a work permit.

To be a HSM (qualify to receive a highly skilled migrant visa) the applicant and the employer must meet a number of prerequisites. These requirements need to be reviewed on an annual basis as they are constantly changing, since the original ruling back in 2004.

Applying for a Highly Skilled Migrant Visa

If you are wondering whether you can apply (or qualify) to be a HSM in the Netherlands, you must meet the below criteria:

  • You hold a high level of education (Bachelor minimum)

  • Valid travel documents like a passport (from outside the EU) and not be a risk to national security

  • Professional or academic experience in their specific expertise

  • Unique specialization not readily found in Dutch or EU workforce (for example in IT, engineering or science).

  • Job offer (contract) with Dutch employer registered with IND as a recognized sponsor

  • Your salary meets a specific threshold

Sponsoring Highly Skilled Migrants

If you are a Dutch company that requires employees with a specific skillset for vacancies you have been unable to fill with the current workforce in the Netherlands and EU, you might need to consider recruiting from abroad. This would mean, employing and sponsoring candidates under the Highly Skilled Migrant scheme. In order to legally hire and sponsor highly skilled migrants, your company must:

  • Registered and recognized by Immigration and Naturalisation Service (IND) as a sponsor

  • Must be listed in the Business Register in the Netherlands

  • Business must offer a GROSS salary (excluding holiday allowance) that meets specific income bracket

  • Active highly skilled migrant employer (min. every three years have at least one highly skilled migrant on payroll)

Salary 2024 Criteria

The applicant must also satisfy the minimum monthly income requirements which (as of January 1, 2024) are:

Type of highly skilled migrant (HSM)

First residence permit for HSM

Extension residence permit HSM

When changing employer (sponsor)

With reduced salary€ 2,801.00€ 2,801.00€ 2,801.00
Under 30 years old€ 3,909.00€ 3,909.00*€ 3,909.00/€ 5,331.00**
30 years or older€ 5,331.00€ 5,331.00€ 5,331.00

*This amount also applies when the HSM has turned 30 years or older. Has the HSM changed employers since the first permit was issued? Then this must have happened when the HSM was still under the age of 30.

**HSM is still younger than 30: € 3,909.00 and if HSM is now 30 years or older: € 5,331.00

IND Recognized Sponsor

A vital requirement of the Dutch highly skilled migrant permit is that the company must be approved as a recognized sponsor by the Dutch Immigration and Naturalisation Service (IND). If the company is not recognized, it cannot have any highly skilled migrant on their payroll.

For the EU Blue Card and the ICT permit, the company does not need to be recognized as a sponsor.

If you are interested in hiring highly skilled migrants but are not currently a recognized sponsor with IND, check out our article on becoming a recognized sponsor.

Alternatively, All About Expats does offer payrolling services for Dutch companies that do not want to become IND recognized sponsors but need to hire highly skilled migrants. Learn more about outsourcing sponsorship for your highly skilled migrant with All About Expats.

Launch Your Career as a Highly Skilled Migrant

 If you are living in the Netherlands as a highly skilled migrant, qualify for the highly skilled migrant visa, or coming off your orientation year (zoekjaar) and looking for work as a highly skilled migrant, All About Expats can help.


The highly skilled migrant scheme is a great way to attract exceptional foreign talent but the application process is time consuming and requires your employer to have active sponsorship status.

Many businesses find that outsourcing sponsorship and the visa application for the foreign employee is not only cost-effective but allows for a smoother transition and relocation for the employee.

As a highly skilled migrant, there are also many benefits you can apply for (such as the 30 Percent Ruling) that your employer won’t do for you. This is why All About Expats remains a critical resource long after arrival in the Netherlands.

If you are moving to the Netherlands for work as a highly skilled migrant and would like to learn more about the 30% ruling and whether you can apply, feel free to schedule a consultation with our team.

Be sure to add us on LinkedIn so you can stay up to date on topics pertinent to living in the Netherlands as an expat and highly skilled migrant.