Japanese nationals exempt from work permits, court says

26 Jan 15



What is the change? Japanese nationals do not need to secure work authorization to work in the Netherlands, the highest Dutch immigration court has ruled.

What does the change mean? Japanese nationals have free access to the labor market, and Dutch employers may hire them without having to go through procedures to obtain work permits.

  • Implementation timeframe:The Administrative Jurisdiction Division of the Council of State issued its ruling Dec. 24, 2014.
  • Visas/permits affected:All work permit categories for both high-skilled and low-skilled labor.
  • Who is affected:Japanese nationals and Dutch employers hiring them.
  • Impact on processing times:The ruling essentially eliminates work permit processing for Japanese nationals.
  • Business impact:The ruling has a significant liberalizing impact on employers hiring or assigning Japanese nationals in the Netherlands.
  • Next steps:The Dutch Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment, which brought the appeal, is bound by the ruling. Companies can immediately engage Japanese nationals to perform work without work permits and not risk penalties for illegal employment.

Background: The court based its ruling on the 1913 Treaty of Commerce and Navigation between the Netherlands and Japan. The treaty gives Japanese nationals the same status as foreign nationals of the “most-favored nation.” The court compared this treaty to a similar treaty between Switzerland and the Netherlands, which allows Swiss nationals to work in the Netherlands without work permits. The court found that the “most-favored nation” clause puts Japanese nationals on the same footing as Swiss nationals, who have been exempt from work permits in the Netherlands since November 2001.

BAL Analysis: While official regulations must be adopted to implement the ruling, the court’s ruling paves the way for employers to bypass work permit procedures in hiring and transferring Japanese nationals.

This alert has been provided by the BAL Global Practice group and our network provider located in the Netherlands. For additional information, please contact your BAL attorney.

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