How To Move To the Netherlands Without a Job?

a sunset view of establishment in the Netherlands.

Did you know that the Netherlands ranks the sixth happiest country, one-fifth of its population is foreign-born, and the country is believed to have more bicycles than its population? Interesting right? It’s also highly multicultural, which makes it preferable for foreigners. These aspects make it attractive even for those without jobs.

You can move to the Netherlands without a job if you have the desirable skills potential Dutch employers are looking for. Since the Netherlands is an EU member state, you don’t need a visa to relocate if you are from other EU states. If you come from a non-member state, you’ll need a temporary visa .

In this article, we explore the process of relocating to the Netherlands without a job and how to exploit the available opportunities in the country.

Can you move to the Netherlands without a job?

The Netherlands is rich in opportunities making it a key attraction for eager foreigners. You can move to the Netherlands without a job, but first, there’s a need to evaluate key aspects to ensure a smooth transition.

Some key aspects you ought to consider include:

  • Cost of living
  • Visa requirements
  • Opportunitinities in your area of specialization
  • Language barrier
  • The period it’ll take before you get a stable job
  • Government regulations on foreigners
  • Healthcare system
  • Cultural differences

You also need to create a plan on how you’ll survive within the duration when you land and before landing a stable job.

If you come from the EU/EEA and Switzerland block, moving to the Netherlands without a job is easy, given that it’s visa-free. As a citizen of the non-member state, you need to have a job offer or convince the Dutch government of the relevance of your stay.

Without a job offer, your visa options for being accepted to the Netherlands include:

  • Apply for a student visa 
  • Self-employment visa
  • Family-reunification visa
  • Working holiday visa
  • DAFT visa

1. Student Visa

If you use this route to join an institution and study, permanent residency isn’t guaranteed, as the government expects you to leave the country once you finish your studies.

This option, however, will help you understand how the country works while enjoying the benefits of being an international student. You could even get a job and work as you study to understand the working environment in the country.

2. Self-Employment/Startup Visa

The Dutch government allows skilled people with great ideas to implement them in the country. 

Entrepreneurs who wish to implement their startups in Dutch are allowed a one-year preparatory duration as they set up the company. 

To qualify for this visa, you need to prove that the area you want to explore is innovative and helpful to the country. Additionally, the government must rate you based on:

  • Your experience in the area you intend to venture into
  • Comprehensive business plan
  • How will the country benefit from your venture

The minimum score allowed to qualify is 30 on each parameter, while the maximum is 300.

3. Working Holiday Visa

The Netherlands is open to allowing young people aged between 18 and 30 years a one-year working holiday permit.

As a young person taking advantage of the offer helps you learn and explore. It also helps you make an informed choice in the future when choosing to relocate to the country.

To qualify for this, you need to:

  • Fall within the age brackets of 18-30.
  • Come from the allowed nations, which include: Argentina, Canada, Hong Kong, New Zealand, and South Korea.
  • You must prove that you can sustain yourself financially for a few months.
  • Have a return ticket.
  • You aren’t allowed to sign a contract with an intermediary.

Argentina, Hong Kong, and South Korea are allowed to have 100 citizens under the program, while the other eligible countries don’t have a limit attached.

The two ways to apply for the program are through applying directly under the Immigration and Naturalisation Service in the Netherlands or through your country, although this takes longer before you get absorbed.

4. Family Reunification Visa

Getting a visa under this requires you to have a partner who is a Dutch citizen or a foreign national with a Dutch residence permit. Your partner will be obliged to take care of you financially.

As a citizen of a non-EU/EEA country whose spouse is from the region, to qualify for a visa, you’ll need to acquire a verification against EU law. This is a requirement for a residence and work permit in the Netherlands.

In addition, you have to provide:

  • A copy of your identity card or passport
  • Proof of a legal union through a marriage certificate
  • Your partner’s income statement to prove she/he is capable of taking care of you financially
  • Birth certificates of children involved
  • Your host needs to write a declaration accepting you as the partner

Once all these are verified, you’re eligible for a Dutch residence visa. The process, however, could take a while as verification is done.

5. DAFT Visa

If you are an American without a job and looking to relocate to the Netherlands, you can do it under the DAFT program. 

Dutch American Friendship Treaty (DAFT) allows citizens of the two countries to move freely with fewer restrictions. For instance, investors or entrepreneurs from America can easily secure a residence permit under the program.

As an American looking to shift under the program, you need to prove:

  • Your work experience
  • You can inject more than 4,500 EUR into the economy through your venture.
  • Have relevant skills enabling you to be self-employed
  • A clear business plan

Under the program, you must first acquire a temporary visa before applying for one under DAFT.

Is it difficult to find a job in the Netherlands? 

a busy street during afternoon in the Netherlands.

Getting a job in the Netherlands is not easy, but it becomes easy with the right skills that are highly in demand within the country.

The Netherlands is a small but very populated country that measures 41,534 km with a large population of over 17 million people. This makes the job market highly competitive.

These factors have led the Dutch government to apply stringent immigration measures, especially for people without jobs. 

The job market in the Netherlands is low, given the country’s population. Unemployment in the country is also low as it stood at 4.2%  by the end of 2021, which translates to 402,000 people being unemployed.

Check out salaries in the Netherlands in this guide.

To get a job in the Netherlands, you need to be strategic and develop skills in high demand in the job market. Some of the best performing industries that have consistent demand over time include:

  • Administrative jobs such as supervisory roles, human resource managers, and middle-level managers
  • Engineering industry, from low-level technicians to middle-level specialist
  • Lawyers
  • Journalists
  • Cultural professionals
  • Hotel and tourist operators

You will have better chances of getting a job that is in-demand; read our article on in-demand jobs in the Netherlands.

To stand out in any of these industries, you need to sharpen your skills and have additional traits that convince potential employers to hire you. For instance, if you are looking for a job in the hotel industry, go a step further and learn the Dutch language; that would work to your advantage as it ceases to be a barrier.

Some of the aspects that make getting a job in the Netherlands for a foreigner a bit hectic include:

  • Housing: There’s an acute housing shortage in the Netherlands, and citizens are always scrambling for the available units.
  • The stringent visa application process that is highly regulated: Since the government is keen on availing the available opportunities to its citizens, it has put in place stringent measures for jobless people seeking to relocate to the country.
  • High cost of living: To gain access to the country as a jobless person, you must have enough to sustain yourself through the period before you get a job. Unfortunately, the country’s high cost of living becomes tough for those without potential employers.
  • Culture: Although the Netherlands is highly multicultural, a foreigner will experience a culture shock before settling in.

Luckily, if you prove you are highly skilled and your expertise will benefit the country, you’ll have an easier time without a potential employer. The Netherlands is known to have special packages set to attract highly skilled personnel.

For instance, if you’re up to the task, the government allows you a 30% tax break.

How to find a job in the Netherlands as a foreigner?

You can use different avenues as a foreigner to shorten your learning curve and ensure you land your first job in the Netherlands sooner. 

To find a job in the Netherlands as a foreigner, ensure you are looking for avenues that can land you a job in the country. Some of these include:

  • EURES (European Employment Services)

The website is run and managed by European Commission, where citizens from member states can search for jobs in any country under the block. For instance, you log into the portal and search for jobs available in the Netherlands.

  • Job websites

You can constantly check out several reliable sites for available opportunities in the country. Some examples include the Stepstone and Monsterboard.

  • Job agencies

Globally, agencies are looking to match employers and employees worldwide. Some reliable ones in the Netherlands working to match employees to available opportunities in the European Union include the Undutchables and Unique.

  • Networking

Join relevant organizations that can be beneficial in your job search. For instance, you could join the Network Club or Connecting Women.

If you explore any of these avenues and customize your search to your skills, your job search journey could take lesser time than if you randomly applied directly to companies.

Online platforms such as Linkedin are also rich avenues where you could follow and keep an eye out for companies in the country that you wish to work for.

Tips to help you land a job in the Netherlands as a foreigner

Since the Job market in the country is quite competitive, you need to stand out as a worthy candidate. 

To do this, implement the following:

  1. Customize your CV to match the Dutch style. Learn what is acceptable in the country as the perfect CV. For instance, keep it short and precise.
  2. Have a cover letter that your potential employer understands. Customize it to show that you have done your research about the company. Avoid copying and pasting previous applications as they are easy to tell and depict laziness and low motivation.
  3. Research the company culture and history to help you stand out once invited for an interview.
  4. As you apply, ensure that you’re ready so that technicalities don’t hold you back from the opportunity once you’re hired. For instance, ensure your documentation is right or your bank statement doesn’t deny you the opportunity.

Understand the Dutch working culture in advance to allow you to settle down fast once hired. Remain ethical as you interact and network with key parties that could assist you in landing a job, such as expatriates from your country working in Dutch.

As you apply for jobs in the Netherlands, ensure that you’re eligible for a work visa and have a place in mind where you wish to live.

Preparation and proper research are key as you begin your job search. First, understand the expectations an employer has on you. Then, learn the company’s culture to manage friction and shorten your learning curve.

Technology has made job search manageable even when you’re miles away. For example, you could finalize everything online in your home country before shifting to the Netherlands, making your settling seamless.

In the last two years the Netherlands has ranked among the top six countries in the European block with the most favorable minimum wage rates, as shown below. That should encourage you to keep looking for job opportunities in the country.


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