What is the change? The Dutch government has said that Japanese nationals will once again be required to apply for work permits before moving to the Netherlands to work.

What does the change mean? Beginning Oct. 1, Japanese nationals – who currently enjoy free access to the Dutch labor market under a 1912 treaty – will be required to obtain authorization to work in the Netherlands. Japanese nationals residing in the Netherlands without a work permit can continue to work past Oct. 1, but will have to apply for work permits when their residence permits expire if they intend to continue working in the country.

  • Implementation time frame: Oct. 1.
  • Visas/permits affected:All work permits.
  • Who is affected:Japanese nationals and Dutch employers hiring them.
  • Impact on processing times:The government’s rule will reinstate the work permit process for Japanese nationals, subjecting them to the standard work permit processing times.
  • Business impact:The change may make it more difficult for Dutch employers to recruit and retain Japanese workers.

Background: In December 2014, the Netherlands’ highest immigration court ruled that a “most-favored nation” clause in the 1912 Treaty of Commerce and Navigation between the Netherlands and Japan compelled Dutch authorities to grant Japanese nationals free access to the Dutch labor market. In making the ruling, the court compared the treaty to a similar pact between Switzerland and the Netherlands, which allows Swiss nationals to work in the Netherlands without work permits.

More than a year after the ruling, the Netherlands and Switzerland issued an “interpretation statement” on the Dutch-Swiss treaty. In the statement, the two countries agreed that residence and access to the countries’ labor markets remain subject to each country’s national legislation. This, in the Dutch government’s interpretation, gave authorities the power to subject Japan to work permit requirements without running afoul of the 1912 treaty’s most-favored nation clause. The government announced on June 21 that it would impose work permit requirements on Japanese nationals beginning Oct. 1.

BAL Analysis: Barring any successful legal or political challenge, Japanese nationals will once again be required to apply for and obtain work permits in order to work in the Netherlands after Oct. 1. Employers should take note of the change and contact their BAL professional with any questions about how to obtain a work permit for a Japanese national intending to arrive in the Netherlands on or after Oct. 1.

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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