Have you been living in the Netherlands for the past five years? You might be eligible for a permanent residence permit. What are your possibilities and what are the requirements? Everaert Advocaten, a respected leader in Dutch migration law, explains.

In the Netherlands, three types of permanent residence exist: EU long term residence, permanent residence on national grounds and permanent residence for EU citizens and their family members. Depending on your specific situation, you might be eligible for one of these permits after five years of uninterrupted lawful residence in the Netherlands.

Holding a permanent residence permit has certain benefits. Once you have a permanent residence permit, your stay in the Netherlands no longer depends on a certain purpose of stay (for example, working as a highly-skilled migrant). A permanent residence permit can only be revoked if you stay outside the Netherlands for too long or if you commit a serious crime. Moreover, you are free on the labour market, which means you do not need a separate work permit to legally work in the Netherlands.

EU long term residence and permanent residence on national groundsAs a non-EU national, it is possible to apply for a permanent residence permit in the Netherlands after five years. The Immigration and Naturalization Service (IND) will determine which permit you qualify for. They will first assess if you qualify for the EU long term residence permit. If this is not the case, they will then assess if you fulfil the requirements for permanent residence on national grounds. In general, the following criteria for permanent residence apply:

Five years of uninterrupted lawful residenceFor the EU long term residence permit, you have to have been living in the Netherlands for five consecutive years with a valid residence permit. You must have had a residence permit with a non-temporary purpose throughout the five-year period. For example, an exchange period or orientation year is temporary and does not count towards the five years. As an exception, a study permit counts for 50 percent of the actual time towards the five years. During this five-year period, you must also have had your main residence in the Netherlands. For the EU long term residence permit, certain residence gaps can be mended.

For the permanent residence on national grounds, you also have to have been living in the Netherlands for five consecutive years with a valid residence permit. The most important difference with the EU long term residence permit is that all consecutive residence permits you have held count towards a total of five years. This can also be a residence permit with a temporary purpose of stay. For example, a study permit or search year count in full. However, for permanent residence on national grounds, it is not possible to mend residence gaps.

Sufficient incomeFor both permanent residence permits, it is required that you have sufficient long-term income. The standard amount is adjusted twice a year, on January 1 and on July 1. Whether your income is sustainable depends on your specific situation. For example, income from paid employment is sustainable if you receive the income for another twelve months. However, if your temporary employment contract is valid for less than twelve months, your income can still be considered to be sustainable if your current income equals the required amount and each year in the last three years before the application, you had an average monthly income that was also at least equal to the required amount.

IntegrationYou also have to pass the civic integration exam. Recently, the Dutch government has increased the language requirement from level A2 to B1. However, until further notice, the language requirement for permanent residence will remain at the A2 level in 2022. Kindly note that sometimes you can get an exemption or dispensation from the integration requirement.

No temporary residency is allowed when applyingIt is not possible to apply for permanent residence if you are in the possession of a residence permit with a temporary purpose of stay. Some examples of temporary purposes of stay are: au pair, cross border service provider, exchange, Intra Corporate Transferees, orientation year for highly educated persons, seasonal work and study.

Further requirementsYou should not have a criminal record or pose a threat to public order. Moreover, you should be registered in the Municipal Personal Records Database (brp) in your municipality and have health insurance.

Permanent residence for EU citizens and their family membersFor EU citizens and their family members, other rules apply. You must have had five years of uninterrupted legal stay in the Netherlands. That means you have been genuinely living in the Netherlands and have had (or your family member has had) sufficient funds to support yourself financially. Moreover, you are registered in the Municipal Personal Records Database (brp) in your municipality, have health insurance, and have a valid passport. In a few situations, you can apply for permanent residence earlier.

If you have any questions regarding permanent residency in the Netherlands and whether you are eligible, or if you have any questions about your specific situation, feel free to contact Anne Wijffelman, attorney-at-law at Everaert Advocaten, at [email protected]. 

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