Multinational groups with a company in the Netherlands can transfer managers, specialists, trainees and interns to their Dutch branch. This is possible with the so-called ICT permit, under which the transferee obtains a combined residence and work permit (GVVA). The GVVA is granted for a maximum of three years and is non-renewable. After this period, the ICT permit can be replaced with the Highly Skilled Migrant Scheme or the EU Blue Card.
Who is covered by the EU ICT Directive?
The EU ICT Directive covers non-EU nationals (‘third-country nationals’) who are and remain employed by a corporate group established outside the EU and who are temporarily transferred to one or more branches of this company in one or more EU member states.
This applies to the following:
• Managers (single permit for residence and employment with ‘ICT’ indication for a maximum of three years)
• Specialists (single permit for residence and employment with ‘ICT’ indication for a maximum of three years)
• Trainee-employees (single permit for residence and employment with ‘ICT’ indication for a maximum of one year)
These employees are referred to as ‘intra-corporate transferees.
If a third-country national is transferred from outside the EU to a branch of the group within the EU and this person is a manager, specialist or trainee-employee, the EU ICT Directive applies exclusively. This means that other schemes, such as the Highly Skilled Migrant Scheme or EU Blue Card, do not apply.
Conditions of the ICT permit
• The Dutch company (‘host entity’) and the third-country national’s employer based outside the EU must belong to the same corporate group (the same ‘group of companies’ within the meaning of Article 3(1)(l) of the Directive)
• The third-country national has his or her main residence outside the Netherlands at the time of application
• The third-country national has a university or higher professional level education or has five years’ relevant work experience. The trainee-employee must have at least a master’s degree
• The third-country national must have been employed by the group for at least three months at the time of application for transfer
• Manager and specialist – key personnel- must earn at least a gross monthly salary of € 4.612 (exclusive 8% holiday allowance) or € 3,381 if the transferee is younger than 30 years of age.
• The third-country national has an employment contract or assignment letter specifying, among other things
• the duration of the transfer
• that the third-country national will hold the position of manager, specialist or trainee-employee at the host entity
• salary and other employment conditions
• that the third-country national will be transferred back to a group entity outside the EU at the end of the transfer
• No employment contract may be concluded with the Dutch branch and the third-country national remains employed by the branch outside the EU
• Employment conditions and working conditions must meet at least the legal requirements and customary practice in the industry
• Where it concerns a regulated profession (e.g. a doctor or lawyer), the third-country national’s professional qualifications must be evaluated (according to Section 5 of the General Act on Recognition of EU Professional Qualifications)
Mobility between EU member states
One major advantage of an ICT permit is that the third-country national may be transferred to any other EU member state. With an ICT permit in the Netherlands, the third-country national may be deployed in any other EU country. This is known as intra-EU mobility and there are two variants.
• Short-term mobility. The third-country national may stay in another EU member state for work within the group for a maximum of 90 days within a 180-day period. Although the employee’s main residence remains in the country that issued the ICT licence, the third-country national can immediately start working in the other EU member state. For short-term mobility from another EU member state to the Netherlands, the Dutch Employee Insurance Agency (UWV) must be informed at least two days before the start of the work.
• Long-term mobility. The third-country national may stay in another EU member state for work within the group for more than 90 days within a 180-day period. While an entry visa is not required, an application for an ICT-mobile residence permit must be submitted. The duration of the employment contract, the job requirements and the trainee agreement will not be re-assessed for this application. Once the application has been submitted, the third-country national can start working in the other EU member state. If the application shows that the Netherlands is to be the member state in which the third-country national resides the longest, there will be a full assessment for the ICT permit.
Maximum duration of the ICT permit
The EU ICT Directive explicitly concerns a form of temporary migration. The maximum duration of a transfer to the EU, including movements between member states, should not exceed three years for managers and specialists and one year for trainee-employees. After this, employees must leave the EU unless a residence permit is obtained.
Transfer based on a trade agreement
Another possibility is to transfer intra-group employees under a trade deal (such as a WTO agreement). In this case, the third-country national receives a work permit for non-EU nationals (TWV). The ICT permit and the trade agreement approach have different advantages depending on the situation.