Does your company employ highly skilled migrants to the Netherlands? Then you will need to be recognised as a sponsor. Since January 2018, the Immigration and Naturalization Service (IND) has become stricter in carrying out inspection visits. Inspectors from the IND’s Enforcement & Supervision Team regularly visit a number of recognised sponsors. During these visits the IND checks whether all the conditions and obligations of these sponsors are correctly met. In addition to these inspection visits, the IND also participates in joint inspections with the Inspectorate of the Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment (SZW). In these joint inspections, the SWZ reviews compliance with the Aliens Employment Act (Wav).
Obligations of recognised sponsors
To hire highly skilled migrants and / or foreign scientific researchers in the Netherlands, your company must be a recognised sponsor. Recognition as a sponsor has a number of advantages, such as:
- You do not need to provide as much documentary evidence when filing an application. In many cases, a personal statement will suffice;
- You can use the IND’s Business Portal for submitting digital applications;
- You can use an accelerated admissions procedure. The IND will process your applications faster, and a decision on a fully submitted application is usually taken within two weeks;
- You can use a special e-mail address for questions.
To be recognised as a sponsor, your company must be a reliable partner for the IND. Once the IND has recognised your company as sponsor, the recognised sponsor must meet a number of obligations.
The recognised sponsor must inform the IND of all changes regarding the situation of the sponsor (employer) or foreign national (employee). Changes with regard to the recognised sponsor are for example: a change in the address of your company’s administration, a merger or takeover, a change in the legal form of your company, criminal proceedings being instituted against one of the directors, a change of contact person within your company, a change of the authorized person who may submit applications on behalf of your company.
Changes with regard to an employee are for example: the employee no longer works for you or the employee no longer meets the salary criteria for highly skilled migrants.
In most cases, the information must be reported to the IND within four weeks of the change taking place. Please be aware that some changes must be reported to the IND within two weeks of the change taking effect.
Administration and retention obligation
The recognised sponsor must keep all relevant information / documents, such as a copy of all employees passports, employment contracts, an antecedent certificate completed and signed by the employee, wage slips, permits issued etc., in its administration.
You must keep this information and documentation for five years after the sponsorship has ended. You may also store the information digitally.
Duty of care
The recognised sponsor, in this case the employer, has a duty to ensure careful recruitment and selection of highly skilled migrants and to inform highly skilled migrants of the conditions / obligations that he/she must meet.
Checks and consequences of non-compliance
An incorrect interpretation of obligations that must be satisfied, or negligence can result in mistakes made by the recognised sponsor. In the worst-case scenario, the recognised sponsor may no longer meet the conditions for recognition. If imperfections are found, this can (depending on the seriousness) lead to a warning or administrative fine.
When obligations are first breached, the IND issues a warning. If a breach is made of the same obligation within 24 months, the IND can impose an administrative fine of € 3,000. In the event of a repeat violation within 24 months of the first violation, the IND can impose a fine of € 4,500. In the event of a serious violation, the IND can also immediately impose an administrative fine without a warning first.
In specific cases (in the case of very serious violations), the IND may decide to withdraw the sponsorship registration and / or the residence permit of the employee.
If the employee can no longer legally reside in the Netherlands, the Dutch government will check whether he is leaving the Netherlands. If the employee does not leave on his own volition, the government can deport him. The IND can recover the costs incurred in the deportation process from the sponsor, for example the costs of transport to the airport or border, the flight ticket and the costs of travel documentation.