Everything you need to know about the Dutch partner visa

You’re not an EU citizen, but you’re in love with a Dutchie and ready to take the leap? Or is your partner in the Netherlands, and you want to finally start living together? Then you need to know about the Dutch partner visa! It’s like a special ticket that lets you go and be with your sweetheart who already lives in the Netherlands. In short,  make sure you’re really serious about each other and you’re willing and able to prove it.

A Dutch partner visa allows you to join your partner who is already living in the Netherlands, whether you’re married or not. It is designed for those who are in a genuine and lasting relationship with a Dutch resident or citizen.

Eligibility Criteria

To be eligible for a Dutch partner visa, you must be able to prove that you are in a committed relationship with your partner. If you’re already married, the relationship is much easier to prove – you’ll just have to show your marriage certificate for this part. 

If you’re not married, there are still options! Your relationship could be proven through various means such as shared financial responsibilities, joint ownership of property, or having children together. Photos you’ve taken together in different places throughout the years, as well as your text exchanges can also be submitted as proof. 

Finally, you’ll need to meet certain financial requirements to ensure you can support yourselves in the Netherlands. The partner who already lives here will need to prove they can successfully “sponsor” you. They do this by showing they have an employment contract that’s valid for at least 12 months from the date of application, as well as by showing their payslips from the previous period.

If your Dutch partner is not employed, and has a company instead – proving their capability to sponsor you can be a bit more complex, so it’s recommended to consult their accountant before submitting the visa application. 

In order to understand the financial requirements for your specific situation, you can do a test on the IND’s website (also available in English)

Application Process

The application process for a Dutch partner visa involves gathering various documents to prove the authenticity of your relationship. These may include proof of identity, relationship evidence, financial documentation, and any other documents requested by the Dutch Immigration and Naturalization Service (IND). It’s important to ensure that all documents are translated into Dutch or English if they are in a different language.

If you come from most countries, you’ll also need to take a civic integration exam abroad in order to receive your provisional evidence permit (MVV). That means you have to pass a Dutch exam in your home country’s Dutch embassy. This exam is on level A1, and needs to be taken in person. If you’re from specific countries (like Australia, Canada, Japan…), or you fit in within specific situations, you’re not obligated to do this, and you can just go straight to the visa application. 

The tricky bit with acquiring the MVV is that you cannot be in the Netherlands from the moment you apply for the visa, until the moment it’s approved (which is up to 90 days)

You can see the exceptions from taking the civic integration exam abroad on IND’s website.

Waiting Period and Approval

After submitting your application, there is a waiting period during which the authorities will review your case. The duration of this period can vary, but the deadline the Dutch authorities have set is 90 days. 

With IND being at capacity the past few years, the waiting period can sometimes be longer than the prescribed 90 days. In that case, what you can do is file an official complaint to request your case to be handled as soon as possible. 

If your application is approved, you will receive a residence permit, allowing you to live and work in the Netherlands.

If an MVV was required, you’ll first need to go to the Dutch embassy in your home country for the MVV sticker to be placed in your passport. This sticker allows you to enter the country while you still don’t have a residency permit – you’ll receive that document at the IND only after arrival. 

Dutch partner visa

Integration and Language Requirements

Once you’re in the Netherlands, it’s possible you’ll be “inburgeringsplicht”. This means you’ll need to pass an integration exam within the first three years of being a resident. If you are obliged to do this, you’ll receive a letter from your municipality informing you of this, and inviting you to participate in the activities they’ve set out for your integration trajectory. At any point during the three years, you can apply for and take the exams. If you do not pass the exams or refuse to participate in the mapped trajectory, you will receive a fine. 

Of course, there are exceptions, so if you’re from countries like Iceland or Turkey, this won’t apply to you. You also won’t have to do it if you’ve reached retirement age. The full list of exceptions can be found on the government’s website.

Want to hear more of a first-hand experience? Read Jelena’s LinkedIn posts for her day-to-day in the Netherlands as an expat. 

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