US Visa application Netherlands: 7 ways to get a Netherlands visa as an American

Feb 27, 2024

The Netherlands is a very hot destination for Americans, and rightly so. The Netherlands has some very good things going for it: a thriving economy, a world beating transportation system and a safe environment to raise a family. No one else in the world being able to converse in their language, the Dutch tend to have a grasp of a number of foreign languages, first and foremost of which is of course English. This makes for a very good international business setting, so the Netherlands is home to a vibrant startup ecosystem and attractive multinational companies. 

Once you have made up your mind to move to the Netherlands, you need to look into a couple of things. First and foremost of this is your visa (or work and residence permit). In this article we explain the basics of visa application for US citizens in the Netherlands. In order to work and live in the Netherlands you need to have either Dutch permanent residency or a valid visa. As a US citizen moving fresh into the Netherlands, you will have neither. But there are a number of possible opportunities for you to consider. These are the best ones:

1. European passport on the side

The Netherlands is of course part of the EU. This means that any holder of a European passport can register in the Netherlands as a citizen of the union. As an American citizen you may be of European descent, and as such you may hold a European passport on the side (or be eligible for one). If this is the case, this is a very easy route towards a valid visa to work and reside in the Netherlands. You just need to make an appointment at the municipality of your choice in the Netherlands, and register yourself as a “citizen of the union”.

2. Spouse or partner with a European passport

You don’t need to have a European passport yourself, in order to be able to benefit from it. If your spouse or partner is the lucky holder of such a document, you can obtain your Dutch visa through them. This process is called a verification against EU-law procedure, which needs to be filed for at the IND. After the process is complete, you can register the municipality of your choice in the Netherlands. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to be married for this process. But if this is not the case, you both need to obtain a declaration of unmarried status from the United States. Make sure you have it apostilled.

3. The Highly Skilled Migrant visa

There are two main Dutch visa which are tied to employment at a Dutch company. One of these is the Highly Skilled Migrant (or HSM) visa. This visa has a number of strict requirements : your employer must have special IND “sponsor status”, you and your employer must have a valid employment contract with sufficient income (under 30: € 3,484 gross per month / over 30: € 4,752 gross per month).

4. The EU Blue Card visa

The second Dutch visa which is tied to employment at a Dutch company, is the EU Blue Card. The big difference with the HSM visa is that the employer doesn’t need to have the special IND “sponsor status” as outlined above. The other requirements are a bit stricter though. You need to meet the minimum salary requirement (€ 5,867 gross per month, no lower threshold for younger employees) and have a Bsc. - equivalent 3 year diploma (preferably University degree).

5. The Dutch American Friendship Treaty (DAFT) visa

Americans with an entrepreneurial spirit are in luck. For them an exception applies to the regular self employed visa in the Netherlands, which means they can obtain a Dutch American Friendship Treaty (DAFT) visa if they meet a few basic requirements: have a US passport, setup a Dutch company, invest € 4,500 in their Dutch company. With this visa, an American applicant is free to reside in the Netherlands and work in their own company. DAFT applicants can choose between the BV (which allows for 30% ruling) and the ZZP/sole proprietorship.

Apply for Dutch-American Friendship Treaty

6. Having a spouse or partner with a valid DAFT, EU Blue Card or HSM Visa

The previously mentioned HSM, Blue Card and DAFT visa also confer their benefits to the partner and minor children of the holder. In the case of the DAFT visa, the partner even gets more rights than the main applicant (the partner may work in all types of employment, the main applicant only self employed). So if you are in such a situation, you are very lucky and everything will be arranged for you via your partner’s visa application.

Stuff to watch out for

When you have found a visa under which the Netherlands will have you, you are not there yet. There’s a number of other things you should watch out for:

- Bring your original certificates: If you register in the Netherlands, regardless of what visa or passport you are using, you always need to bring an original and apostilled birth certificate with you. The same applies to your partner or child(ren). Applicants born in the United States can obtain this certificate quite easily online via here. Expect it to take no less than 10 weeks though, so plan ahead here. Applicants born outside the United States need to obtain it from their country of their birth. Make sure the certificate is in Dutch, English, French or German official or sworn translation. In all cases, make sure the apostille is not older than 6 months at the moment of your registration in the Netherlands.

- Original declarations of civil status: If you are coming as a married couple, make sure to bring your original and apostilled marriage certificate. If you are an unmarried couple make sure you bring your original and apostilled declaration of unmarried status. You don’t need to prove you are an unmarried couple, this will be evident from your registration at the same address. Again, make sure the apostille is not older than 6 months at the moment of your registration in the Netherlands.

- Criminal record: Make sure you don’t have a criminal record in the Schengen area. This will make your registration in the Netherlands difficult at best, impossible at worst. 

- The 30% ruling: If you plan to work in the Netherlands, either as a freelancer or in regular employment, make sure you don’t miss out on the 30% ruling. This is huge tax benefit that you need to secure before you move to the Netherlands. If you do it after you arrive, you are already too late. 

- US - Netherlands taxes: As a US citizen moving to the Netherlands, you will make your tax situation a bit more “interesting”. In another article we go into more detail about US - Netherlands taxes.