Keywords: Highly Skilled Migrant Scheme, Control, Study, Susceptible to Fraud, Espionage, Immigration and Naturalization Service.

The highly skilled migrant scheme came into effect on 1 October 2004 and is legally anchored in the Foreign Nationals Employment Act and the Aliens Decree. The aim of the scheme is to attract highly qualified labor migrants – highly skilled migrants – from outside the EU to stimulate the Dutch knowledge economy. Under the highly skilled migrants scheme, companies that need highly skilled migrants can quickly and easily bring them to the Netherlands if they pay a salary that exceeds a certain amount per year[1].  The decision on the application with regard to the highly skilled migrant scheme is taken by the Immigration and Naturalization Service (hereinafter referred to as ‘the IND’)[2].

The platform for investigative journalism Investico for “De Groene Amsterdammer and Trouw” has made a study on the highly skilled migrant scheme in the Netherlands. According to this study, the highly skilled migrant scheme in the Netherlands seems to be considered as a fraud sensitive ‘back-door’, through which foreign individuals can easily obtain a Dutch residence permit. The aforesaid scheme seems to have more flexible rules, which makes it easy for foreigners to get a Dutch residence permit. According to the study, this concerns yearly about fourteen thousand non-EU migrants receiving a Dutch residence permit within two weeks. 

This study mentions that the IND does virtually no research into (i) who knowledge highly skilled migrants are, (ii) whether they actually (will) reside in the Netherlands and/or (iii) whether they actually (will) work for a Dutch employer in the Netherlands. According to the study of Investico, the IND oftenly relies on the back-ground-check of the highly skilled migrants by the applicant companies themselves. This while in some cases the reliability of the companies cannot be ascertained by the IND.  

With the introduction of the highly skilled migrant scheme (2004) and its subsequent adjustment (2013), it was the intention that there would be as few checks as possible and that IND would be service oriented in order to attract as much as highly skilled migrants to the Netherlands. Nevertheless, according to the Investico study, this approach of IND makes the Netherlands vulnerable to espionage and/or attract sanctioned or PEP individuals with unwanted political influence. 

In its annual reports, the General Intelligence and Security Service (AIVD) has warned against such espionage by several countries in the Netherlands through the highly skilled migrant scheme[3].

According to the Investico study; due to the weak IND-research, the occurrence of many abuses and the presence of high risks – it seems inevitable that the current highly skilled migrant scheme will change and becomes a more tightened procedure in the near future.

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[1] Tweede Kamer, vergaderjaar 2010–2011, 32 144, nr. 5, page 11. See also

[2] See

[3]  De Groene Amsterdammer, Article ‘Onderzoek Handel in Nederlandse visa.Het gouden paspoort’ by   Anouk Kootstra en Karlijn Kuijpers, 3 february 2021. See also