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No longer free access to the Dutch labor market for Japanese citizens per January 2017

28 June 2016

The Dutch immigration and naturalization service announced that Japanese citizens will no longer have free access to the Dutch labor market per January 1, 2017.

Pursuant to a decision dated December 24, 2014 by the Council of State on the trade treaty between the Netherlands and Japan, Japanese citizens must be treated in the same way as the Swiss with regard to their rights to work and stay in the Netherlands and therefore did not require any work permit anymore on the Dutch labor market.

The Dutch and Swiss governments have now made an interpretative statement to the treaty, in which they clarify that the temporary and permanent residence and access to the labor market of both countries based on the trade treaty is subject to national legislation. The statement was published on Monday, June 20th, 2016 in the so called Tractatenblad (Treaty Series).

The publication of the interpretative declaration has the effect that for Japanese workers who want to work and live in the Netherlands will be required to obtain a work permit first. Either the employer must first get approval from the UWV (Dutch labor authority) before a Japanese worker may be hired, or the employee must be regarded as a highly skilled migrant.

The Secretary of State has agreed to a transitional period until 1 January 2017. During the transitional period, Japanese citizens who are in possession of a residence permit with the labor market endorsement “Work freely permitted and a work permit will not be required” (“Arbeid vrij toegestaan, TWV niet vereist”) may retain this permit as long as it is still valid. A renewal or a new application for a residence permit on or after January 1, 2017 will in principle, however, be subject to review under the Foreign Nationals Employment Act.

For questions regarding the discussed modification for Japanese workers, please contact us.

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