Self-employment visa: work as a self-employed entrepreneur in the Netherlands

Many people ask the question as to whether Netherlands self-employment visa is a feasible solution.

If you are not from the United States, Japan (or Bolivia), your self-employment visa application will be sent to the RVO, a division of the Ministry of Economic Affairs for further review. The RVO will evaluate your business plan on the basis of a point-based test. The whole test is divided into 3 sections and the full grade is 300. There are two ways of passing the test. The first way is to get 30 points on each section of the test. The second way is to get 45 points on the first two sections, and the RVO will automatically let you pass the third section. The passing grade is 90. You cannot let the sections compensate with one another. In order to claim the points, your business plan must always be buttressed by supporting documents. For example, if you claim that your company will generate €50000 revenue in the first year. You need to provide the RVO with sales contracts, memoranda of understanding and/or concrete letters of intent that you signed with other companies. If you claim that your company has €25000 equity, you need to provide the RVO with a bank statement showing at least €25000. So far, it sounds quite objective. Nevertheless, this (pseudo)objectivity is in fact a pitfall.

How does RVO assess?

The reality is that the RVO test is quite subjective. It means that if the RVO do not like your business, they will think of whatever reasons not to grant you the points. For example, you are doing a trading business in cosmetics. You buy lipsticks of certain brand in the Netherlands and sell them in your home country. The initial estimation is that you will make €50000 revenue in the first year and €200000 revenue in the second year. You might think that you will be able to get 10 points on the section ‘sales’. Unfortunately, the reality is that, if the RVO cannot see the charm of your business, they will think of whatever reasons not to give you the points. In this example, the RVO might say that you fail to provide the RVO with your company’s delivery conditions. Therefore, they cannot give you 10 points. Next time, during the objection procedure (‘bezwaar’), you send the RVO the missing ‘delivery conditions’. The RVO might say that ‘they read in the newspaper that the same Dutch lipsticks manufacturer just opened a branch office in your home country’, meaning that your business will have no future. Thus, the RVO still refuse to give you the 10 points.

How can you charm the RVO? In order to make the RVO like you, you need to remember two golden rules: First, you need to enhance Dutch interests (not your own financial interests). Always put the interests of Dutch society above your own business interests. Second, impress the RVO through showing them your amazingness.

Then, what is your chance of success? A few years ago, Mrs. Tesseltje de Lange, a prominent immigration law professor, conducted a very interesting scientific research into the success rates of the various types of self-employment applications. The conclusion of her research was as follows. If you are not from the US, Japan, Bolivia and if you do not hold an EU long term residence permit from another EU country (such as, Spain), the success rate is approximately 13% for applications submitted inside the Netherlands. For applicants living abroad at the time of the application, the success rate was around 7%. The percentages are indeed very low. But most applicants did not know or forget about the golden rules that I mentioned above. Let me give a few examples of our own clients who managed to receive their self-employment visas successfully.

  1. A girl who runs a travel agency in the Netherlands managed to impress the RVO, as her travel agency worked together with a TV station in her home country. Together, TV series about various Dutch tourist destinations were made. This TV program had a viewership of 30 million in her home country.
  2. An engineer came up with a big data related business idea. He does not only have an Oxbridge PhD degree, but he used to work as a Vice President for a multinational company as well.
  3. A young lady runs a 2D/3D design studio. She worked on various commercial videos (each having a viewership of more than three million), and she got reference letters from various NASDAQ listed tech companies.

If you are interested in applying for the self-employment visa and have very concrete business ideas, you can contact Mynta Law.