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Newspaper from the African Perspective

By A.G. Kleijweg*


Dear Readers,


The economic crisis is hurting all over Europe but even more in the Southern countries. Many people lose their jobs. Among those people are many with a residence permit for a European country but with the nationality of an African country.


A substantial number of these people are coming to The Netherlands with the intention to settle down, hoping to get a residence permit and to seek employment. I am afraid that this is not possible, so it is better to give a timely warning to those considering leaving their homes as there is nothing to gain and a lot to lose.


This article is about The Netherlands, but since it is about a “European” subject, the information will be roughly applicable for same situation at other EU countries. Always be inquisitive and ask information about the local situation at the embassy of the country where you want to settle.


Does a residence permit for an EU country give a right to reside in the other EU countries?


No, that is a mistake. Only the possession of the nationality of an EU country gives the right to work and reside in the other EU countries. A residence permit only means that you have the right to reside in the country that issued the residence permit.


If the country that issued the residence permit is part of the Shengen area, you are entitled to travel within the whole Shengen area without the need to apply for a visa. See the residence permit like a visa for the Shengen area. Even if you have a residence permit because of long term residence in the EU, it does not give the right to seek employment in The Netherlands. I will come back to that later in this article.


If I am allowed to travel to The Netherlands, can I work and stay there?


No, travelling is something else than residing. Travelling is temporary, three months maximum in the country is allowed and you are not allowed to work! An employer that employs you will be fined if there is an inspection. If you apply for a residence permit with the purpose to work as an employee, it will be rejected. This will cost you time and money and both are valuable commodities.


Do I have anything to lose?


Beside time and money, you have a lot to lose. If you reside in The Netherlands without residence permit, you are an irregular immigrant, which means that you are not allowed to be here and that you can get summoned to leave the country. Eventually, it is possible that you get expelled from The Netherlands.


You then will be expelled to the country for which you have a valid residence permit. That is bad enough, but if your residence permit has expired and the country that issued the residence permit is not obliged or willing to take you back, you might be expelled to the country of which you are a national.


Also, if you have a valid residence permit for an EU country then there are usually some rules attached to holding this permit. One of the most common obligations is to remain a permanent resident of the issuing country. If you leave that country, your residence permit can be withdrawn because you left.


Then you only will have your nationality and you are an irregular immigrant again. I dare say then you have lost something.


What options are left?


The best option is to obtain the nationality of the EU country in which you are presently a regular resident. How that can be achieved is different for each country. Usually you can get free information from the municipal authorities of the place where you live. Be inquisitive and ask for that information. If after the necessary efforts you meet the requirements for naturalisation and you become an EU citizen yourself, then you can travel, seek employment or start your own company and then reside in every EU country of your choice.


The second best option is requesting for a residence permit because of long term residence in one of the EU countries. You can apply for that after at least five years of regular residence in the EU country in which you are presently a resident. You can get free information about this matter from the authorities that granted your present residence permit.


With this specific kind or residence permit, and no other kind of residence permit, you are not entitled to seek employment in The Netherlands. However, you are entitled to come to The Netherlands and to apply for a residence permit as a self employed person.


Requirement for such a permit is first and foremost that you provide hard and clear evidence that you have founded a viable company in The Netherlands. This sounds like a way out but is it?


It is not easy to start a company in difficult economic times and in a country that you do not know. It takes a real entrepreneur, well-prepared, with a good business plan and some luck to have a reasonable chance of success. Do not think, I cannot find a job, so I have no other option than to start for myself and certainly that will work. The chances of success will be poor then.


Not having success is not an option, because after 1½ years, your residence permit expires and you must apply for prolongation of the permit. Prolongation will only be granted if the applicant can prove to have managed to make a (humble) living out of the company. If not, there will be no prolongation of the residence permit.


You then become an irregular resident in the Netherlands and must return to the country for which you held a residence permit before. Best to get informed about how that should be done and best to do that before you leave your country of residence. For information about the situation in The Netherlands, go to


Where to find information about business in The Netherlands?


For the information about how to start a company, how to register it, you should contact the Chamber of Commerce (Kamer van Koophandel) for information. The web-site is There you can also get free or cheap information about business opportunities, paying taxes and so on.


If you need help with this and you do not have friends or family that can help you, it might be a good decision to hire a Consultant who can sort things out. Personally I believe that you should try it yourself first because you want to start a company so you must get to know The Netherlands.


A Consultant can be very useful, but a real entrepreneur is inquisitive and does not want to be fully dependant on the Consultant. A good Consultant will also encourage and inspire its client to be active and resourceful. A smart client appreciates that.


Since this is a subject about Immigration law and business, I would urge you to ask a Consultant questions about business and Immigration lawyer about Immigration law.


Those who visit a lawyer or a consultant must make an appointment first. They must take all relevant information with them and tell their full story at the first meeting.


What to do when you want to visit our office?


Readers who are in need of legal support are welcome to visit our office for free consultation, only after an appointment. For an appointment call 070 427 3215 and explain to our Secretary what your question is.


Do not hold information back because our Secretary will decide if and when an appointment is possible and which of our lawyers is best qualified for the specific problem.


When you come to the appointment, bring all information that is available. Only then can we judge the case and do make good use of the time.


*A.G. Kleijweg. Balen van Andelplein 2e, 2273 KH Voorburg - 070.427.3215 - 


Disclaimer: The articles on Legal Matters are for general information-purposes only, and may not apply to your situation. They do not take the place of a lawyer. For professional advice, we ask you to seek legal counsel.
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