Netherlands: Work Permit Exemption for Japanese Nationals Ends in October

Previous Work Permit Exemption for Japanese Nationals

The current work permit exemption for Japanese nationals is a result of a December 24, 2014 ruling by the Administrative Jurisdiction Division of the Council of State, the highest Dutch immigration court (See our March 2015 Blog). The court based that ruling on the 1913 Treaty of Commerce and Navigation signed between the Netherlands and Japan wherein Japan was given “most-favored nation” status. The court then compared that treaty to the similar Dutch-Swiss Friendship Treaty of 1875 which had been interpreted to exempt citizens of Switzerland from the Netherland’s work permit requirement since 2001. It then reasoned that the same exemption must apply to Japanese citizens.

Thus, for the past two years, Japanese nationals have enjoyed the same work status as citizens of the European Union, the European Economic Area, and Switzerland. Under the current regulations, citizens of Japan living and working in the Netherlands need only obtain a Dutch residence permit for stays longer than 90 days.

What’s Changed?

On June 21st, prompted by a related Dutch Foreign Ministry “interpretation statement” regarding the Dutch-Swiss treaty, the Immigration and Naturalisation Department (IND) issued its own announcement that Japanese nationals would no longer be exempt from the work permit process under the treaty with Japan. Hence, after October 1st Japanese nationals will be required to obtain a work permit from the Dutch Labor Office, (UWV), prior to beginning work in the Netherlands.

For Japanese nationals already working in the Netherlands without a work permit, transitional arrangements will permit Japanese nationals currently holding valid residence permits to continue working in the Netherlands without a work permit during the remainder of their current residence permit period. However, when the residence permit comes up for renewal, they will have to obtain the necessary work permit.