Immigrate to the Netherlands from South Africa

Updated on Saturday 23rd January 2021

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Any South African citizen who wants to immigrate to the Netherlands needs to consider the main requirements that come with the visa application to enter the country. The General Consulate in Cape Town and the Embassy in Pretoria are the offices where the individuals from South Africa can apply for a Dutch visa.

Before deciding to move to the Netherlands permanently, we recommend request additional information and guidance from our Dutch immigration lawyer. Our team specializes in different issues regarding immigration and can help you if you are a South African citizen. We offer complete pre and post-arrival services so that the transition is a smooth one. The two countries can seem very different and the cultural changes can have a certain impact, depending on age or the business field in which the applicant will work after moving to Holland. This is why we recommend individuals to request additional information apart from the details provided in this article.

We also provide assistance to South African citizens who are already living in the country and wish to apply for Dutch citizenship.

Dutch intra-company visa for South African citizens


Persons from South Africa who want to enter the Netherlands with an intra-company visa need to make proof they are permanent employees of the enterprise from abroad, prepare a valid passport, medical insurance, pass the tuberculosis test and offer details about the financial situation. The company you work for will need to provide to the authorities in the Netherlands details about your status, work position and the purpose of the relocation. It is good to know that the IND (Immigration and Naturalization Service) grants the Dutch intra-company visa for 4 years, without the possibility to extend it, but applying for a new one. With this type of visa, the Dutch residence permit is issued by the same authorities at the same time, for a legal stay in the Netherlands.
 
Working in the Netherlands for foreign nationals is subject to a set of requirements. For example, employment permits for workers from outside the EEA are only granted in some cases. We list them below:
 
- the company cannot find a suitable employee from an EEA country;
- the job has been vacant for at least five weeks or three months for job positions that are hard to fill;
- the employer has taken all reasonable steps to find an employee from the Netherlands or the EEA.
 
In those cases in which the vacancy is for a highly educated worker, there is no need to obtain a special permit. The employer is the one who applies for the permit. One of our Dutch immigration lawyers can provide you with more details about the requirements for the employer and those for the employee. 

The entire procedure can be explained by our immigration lawyer in the Netherlands.

How to apply for a short-stay Dutch visa as a South African citizen


A Dutch short-stay visa is available for a 90-day period in the Netherlands for all citizens of South Africa, with the possibility to extend it. The residence permit is also mandatory and can be issued at the same time with the Dutch visa. And if you are interested in extending your stay in the country, it is recommended to apply for a long-stay visa in the Netherlands which comes with an MVV (provisional residence permit in Netherlands) and is available for more than three months.
 
The list below presents the main steps needed to obtain a short-stay visa in the Netherlands for a South African citizen:
 
  • Provide passport copies: the passport or travel document must have been issued within the last ten years and it should have at least two blank pages; moreover, it must be valid for at least three months after the date the applicant arrives in the country.
  • Submit the visa application form: this is available online and should be filled in by the applicant with all of the relevant details.
  • Photograph: the applicant must submit a recent photograph that us compliant with the general rules for passport photographs. 
  • Fingerprint: the applicant will provide a fingerprint sample when the application is submitted. They are valid for five years; this requirement does not apply to children under the age of twelve.
  • Pay the fee: the visa application has a fee that can be paid directly or through an external services provider; for South Africa, a standard visa is approximately 60 euros; however, we do recommend to check the prices with the consulate general in Cape Town and/or the embassy in Pretoria.
 
The short-stay visa can be applied for in advance but no earlier than three months before the intended departure to the Netherlands. It is highly recommended to apply for this type of visa no later than 15 working days in advance. The time needed to assess and approve the application varies, this is why it is advisable to apply in advance. 
 

How to apply for a long-stay visa as a South African citizen

 
South African nationals who wish to stay in the country long-term, for example, those interested in Netherlands immigration, must apply for a residence permit and in most cases,  this will be preceded by a long-stay visa.
 
The application can be submitted in person at the consulate general in Cape Town and/or the embassy in Pretoria or it can be made through a third person in the Netherlands. He can be a family member, education center or institution or the employer (most commonly). 
 
South African individuals who wish to apply for a visa as a highly-skilled migrant, as an independent entrepreneur, foreign investor or startup owner should submit the application in person with the Dutch consulate. For this purpose, an appointment is usually made and the applicant is required to bring certain documents, such as the passport, photographs, and others.
Immigrate to the Netherlands from South Africa


Reasons for South African nationals to move to the Netherlands

 
The Netherlands is a country that is popular for expats from many countries, including those from South Africa. What makes the country so attractive? We list some of the reasons below:
 
  1. Employment opportunities: as seen above, there are certain conditions in order to work in the Netherlands; however, the country does offer opportunities in the services sector, the manufacturing sector and in other sectors.
  2. Excellent healthcare: the healthcare services in the Netherlands are high quality one and healthcare is mandatory.
  3. Good connectivity: the country is exceptionally well connected to the rest of Europe and Amsterdam is located close to many important European capitals.
  4. The living conditions: the high quality of life, low crime rates, good options for education as well as the social life and the vibrancy of Amsterdam are all good reasons to move to the Netherlands. 
 
Individuals who wish to contribute to the Dutch economy, for example by starting a business or by entering a country as a highly-skilled migrant are more likely to be admitted to the country.
 
For example, an entrepreneur who registers a company in the Netherlands is likely to be admitted to the start-up scheme. This was introduced in 2015 and is allows the applicant to obtain a residence permit with the validity of one year, during which he can open an innovative business. After the first year has passed, the residence permit holder can extend it according to the regulation applicable to self-employed foreign nationals.
 
When the investment is not a start-up but an investment in a Dutch business with a capital of 1,250,000 euros, then the foreign investor can fall under another scheme that allows for the first residence permit in Netherlands to be valid for three years instead of the one year. The investor will not require a special auditor’s report for the business, however, the company will be subject to checkups in case of suspected transactions, for the purpose of preventing money laundering practices. The checks are performed by the Immigration and Naturalization Service. Applicants can obtain this permit if their investment contributes to the Dutch private sector in terms of employment, innovation or through the investor’s specific knowledge (non-financial contribution).
 

Expat integration in the Netherlands

 
As seen above, the Netherlands is an attractive country because of the business/employment opportunities as well as the high quality of life. However, what are the requirements expected of expats in terms of integration?
 
According to the authorities, expats are expected to participate in Dutch society. This means becoming employed or enrolling in the form of education. An important criterion for this is to have a good command of the Dutch language. South African immigrants, as well as any other foreign nationals who come to live in the country for extended periods, must learn Dutch on a mandatory basis. This is also a criterion for obtaining Dutch citizenship.
 
The number of immigrants remains high in the Netherlands, with a population dynamic that is highly impacted by the number of expats. We present the following statistics:
 
  • from Q1 to Q 3: 2018: 185,900 immigrants.
  • 45.183 thousand individuals from Africa in the first half of 2018 (provisional figures at the date of the statistic, as per the source);
  • 2.761 thousand individuals from Africa during the first half of 2017. 

Additional details and suitable information about the types of visas for South Africans who want to immigrate to the Netherlands are invited to get in touch with our team of immigration attorneys in the Netherlands.