Recognised Sponsor of the IND

The Immigration and Naturalisation Service (IND) has defined recognised sponsors (as pertaining to Dutch businesses) as reliable partners that are trusted with a special status from the Dutch government.

This special status not only allows the business to serve as residence permit sponsors for highly skilled migrants, but it permits the business to fast-track the application procedures with IND.

While IND allows companies, schools and organisations within the Netherlands that have an interest in the arrival of third-country nationals to go through the procedures to become recognised sponsors, this article will solely focus on the application steps and requirements for Dutch businesses.

Below we break down the steps to requirements, application procedures, benefits, and costs of becoming an recognised sponsor of the IND.

We also discuss alternatives for businesses that want to hire international talent without becoming a recognised sponsor.

Application Process to Become a Recognised Sponsor

The application procedure for recognised sponsor can be divided into two groups: a relatively simple procedure for companies that have been in existence for more than 3 years and a difficult and lengthy procedure for companies that have been in existence for less than 1.5 years.

Despite the IND having separate procedures depending on the businesses maturity, there are a set number of general requirements that all businesses (regardless of length of existence) must meet.

These prerequisites include being registered in the Commercial Register in the Netherlands (in Dutch: Handelsregister) and following the set Code of Conduct pertinent to your organization.

To see the updated general requirements for 2024, visit the IND.

Under Three Years of Business in the Netherlands

For companies that have been in existence for under 3 years, the IND may decide that the company must follow a more difficult and lengthy procedure. This is the case when IND doubts the continuity and solvency of the business.

When this is the case, the business must present a business plan along with the other application requirements. The application procedure can take up to 6 months.

The application procedure for these businesses is carefully assessed by the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO) and not by the IND. The RVO assesses the stability and solvency of the company based on a points system outlined below.

If the businesses achieves sufficient points a positive recommendation from RVO follows. The company then goes on to become a recognised sponsor.

A total of 100 points can be achieved. 50 points are sufficient for a positive advice.

Before the RVO starts to assess the application, the RVO first checks if:

  • the company is registered in the Chamber of Commerce;
  • there have been any changes in shareholder structure;
  • bankruptcy has ever been filed;
  • there has been a takeover or moratorium.

For companies that have experienced stakeholder takeovers, moratoriums, or bankruptcy, the company will have to present documentation on the case. If the business cannot properly substantiate what happened, the RVO will not proceed with the full assessment.

Over 3 Years of Business in the Netherlands

Companies that have been in existence for more than three years can be recognised as a sponsor by the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO) without assessment.

Although these companies can forego the RVO assessment, they must meet the following conditions:

  • be registered with the Chamber of Commerce;
  • is not in arrears with the payment of social security contributions and payroll taxes;
  • has not been fined a tax offense in the past four years prior to the application for recognised sponsor, or a fine for violation of the Aliens Employment Act, Minimum Wage and Holiday Allowance Act, and the Aliens Act;

  • must be reliable, The IND can request a declaration of behavior in this regard;
  • has not declared bankruptcy in the past three years;
  • maintains (has) proof of stable profitability.

Normally, the IND can make a decision on the application for these businesses within four weeks of submission.

However, the legal decision period is three months.

Required Documents

The documents your company will be required to submit can differ based on the maturity of the business. Notably, if the business has more than 3 years of active business in the Netherlands, you will be required to submit annual accounts, including a profit and loss statement and a balance sheet for the past three years.

If your company has been in business for more than 1.5 years but less than three years, documents could include annual accounts, including a profit and loss statement and a balance sheet, along with a declaration of compliance with fiscal obligations.

Below we break down other specific documents that will be required when the business needs to first be assessed by RVO for continuity and solvency as requested by the IND.

PapersExplanationPoints RVO
Business planProduct/service description: characteristics, application, unique selling points. Please note, this is usually required for companies that have only been in business for under three years.Max. 15 points
Market analysis: potential customers, competitors, entry barriers, co-operation, risks, pricing policy, marketing/promotionMax. 25 points
OrganizationIs there a clear and adequate organizational structure of the company in the Netherlands? Does the directors / owners of the company have the right competences in the field of entrepreneurship, management and the product of service?Max. 20 points
Financial planPlan must be prepared by an independent accountant or accountant and must contain the following elements:
Balance sheet (Value of assets)
less than < € 50,000 (0 points)
between € 50,000 and € 250,000 (max. 10 points)
more than € 250,000 (max. 15 points)
Max. 15 points
Turnover forecast (Annually)
less than € 125,000 (0 points)
between € 125,000 – € 250,000 (3 points)
between € 250,000 – € 500,000 (7 points)
more than € 500,000 (10 points)
Max. 10 points
Liquidity forecast
Must be positive within 3 years
Max. 15 points

Benefits

The main benefit of becoming an IND recognised sponsor is that your business is now able to more readily hire and serve as sponsors to highly skilled migrants.

Additionally, as a recognised sponsor your business benefits from:

  • an accelerated admission procedure (usually two weeks time);
  • a fixed point of contact at the IND for any questions and assistance;
  • less document submissions related to application forms for employee residence permits;
  • ability to apply online for your employees residence permits.

Application Costs and Obligations as IND Recognised Sponsors

Below you will find the 2024 costs of applying for recognised sponsor status and the obligations set by IND for your business once your application is approved.

Total Costs

As of 2024, the IND application fee for businesses applying for IND recognised sponsor status is € 4560,00.

However, if your business has under 50 employees, your application costs is € 2279,00.

When you initiate the process of becoming an IND recognised sponsor, your business will receive a letter explaining how you can pay.

Obligations

Once your business becomes an IND recognised sponsor, the work is not over. To remain in good standing with the IND as a recognised sponsor, your business must always comply with the following obligations:

  • to inform;
  • to keep record;
  • to dutifully recruit.

For example, As an IND recognised employer, you are obliged to inform IND of any employee changes that can affect the residence status of your registered highly skilled migrants. You have four weeks to report the changes to IND.

Changes that IND should be notified about include:

  • If the employee no longer meets the wage requirement;
  • If the employment contract has been terminated;
  • If the employee receives a different position;
  • If the employee returns to the country of origin;
  • if the employee moves.

As pertaining to record keeping, IND requires that your business meticulously retains the details of all your highly skilled migrants on staff. Your business is obligated to keep their information until five years after you are no longer the foreign national’s (recognised) sponsor. To learn more about the documents your business needs to store.

Finally, once you become an IND recognised sponsor, your business has a responsibility to uphold the standards and set requirements for employees being hired as highly skilled migrants.

Breaking Obligations and Noncompliance

The IND can check at any time whether your organization complies with the rules, for example by requesting information from your organization. If you do not comply with the rules, the IND can take a number of measures.

Suspension or withdrawal of approval and residence permits

The IND can suspend the recognised sponsor as a recognised sponsor. During the suspension, the IND will investigate whether the organization still meets the conditions for recognition.

If the organization does not comply with the rules several times or no longer meets the conditions for recognition, the IND can withdraw the recognition. The IND can then refuse the organization as a recognised sponsor for 5 years.

In the event of suspension or withdrawal of recognition, the IND can withdraw the residence permit of the highly skilled migrants who are employed by you.

Warning and administrative fine

The first time that the recognised sponsor does not comply with the rules, a warning usually follows. The IND may impose a fine for a subsequent violation.

The amount of the fine depends, among other things, on the seriousness of the violation and the number of violations. In the case of serious violations, the IND can also immediately impose a fine, without prior warning.

Declaration of a criminal offense

The IND is obliged to report if there is a reasonable suspicion of an offense.

For example, if the organization has deliberately provided incorrect information. The Public Prosecution Service will then determine whether your organization will be prosecuted. In that case, the organization may be fined or the director sentenced to prison.

Expulsion costs

If the highly skilled migrant can no longer legally reside in the Netherlands, the Dutch government will check whether he is leaving the Netherlands. If he does not leave on his own initiative, the government can deport him. The IND can recover the costs incurred thereby from the recognised sponsor. This concerns the costs for transport to the airport or border, the flight ticket and the costs of travel documents, such as a replacement passport. The costs can be recovered from 1 year after your organization no longer acts as a sponsor for the knowledge migrant in question.

Outsourcing Sponsorship and Payrolling

For Dutch businesses without the bandwidth or capacity to initiate the steps to become recognised sponsor of the IND, payrolling firms like All About Expats offer a great alternative.

Our services allow businesses to outsource their payroll administration and HR-related tasks to our team. We become the legal employer of your employees, but the employees continue to work for your company.

As we are a recognised sponsor of the IND, your business can recruit and hire highly skilled migrants. Our team handles the sponsorship and application process for these employees. We serve as their sponsors.

Payrolling firms like ours, also handle tasks such as payment processing, tax withholding, social security contributions, additional immigration support like 30% ruling, and any permit requests for highly skilled migrants on your workforce.

This arrangement is beneficial for companies with a large temporary workforce or small HR teams. Your company can focus on the core business while leaving the administrative tasks to us.