Our moving date is set, and we are saying goodbye to Los Angeles on March 30, 2016!
It was a random Google search following our 2013 trip to Europe which led me to a quirky law that has proved to be a life-changing opportunity for us. As I sat in bed one night reviewing pages and pages of information about this law, my heart began to race.
You mean to tell me there’s a way for freelancers like us to move to the Netherlands and eventually gain permanent residency?
Indeed, a number of American expats have taken advantage of a law called the Dutch-American Friendship Treaty (DAFT), which was ratified in 1957 to promote business opportunities and exchange between the Netherlands and the United States.
It boils down to a simple idea: If you’re an American, the Netherlands wants your business. And if you’re willing to start a company or act as a de facto business by being a freelancer, the red carpet is rolled out for you — at least as much as immigration authorities are likely to roll out a red carpet.
After submitting the required paperwork to the IND (Immigratie- en Naturalisatiedienst, or Immigration and Naturalisation Service), including the application, translated business plan, and any contracts that you may have with a local or overseas company, it’s time to make your required initial investment into a business bank account.
This €4,500 deposit cannot be touched for the entire period of your stay in the Netherlands under the DAFT, though it’s yours to keep at the end of the process. It’s our understanding that one bank deposit for a married couple should suffice and allow both partners to freelance in the country for a period of one year, with an additional one-year visa extension and subsequent five-year extension, after which permanent residency may be applied for. But we’ve saved enough to cover a second deposit if that turns out not to be so.
Assuming your visa application is approved, if you can then prove over the next seven years that you are not a burden on Dutch society, permanent residency should be granted. That means your business needs to make a profit for that time, you cannot accept welfare benefits or social housing, and you need generally to stay out of trouble.
Of course, there are a multitude of forms to fill out, and a dash of good timing is necessary. As we go through the process, that’s something we’ll cover. Even though you can do it yourself, you should engage the services of an immigration attorney to guide you.
Remember that seeking actual employment by a Dutch company will reset the clock on your visa, and you will have to go through the typical process by being sponsored and having in-demand skills not available in the local market.
I can’t stress enough how important it is to the DAFT process to have skills that will enable you to earn a living as a freelancer or business owner. Very luckily for us, freelancing is not new to me, as I’ve been one since I passed the exam to become a court reporter (stenographer). My work often takes me to Asia, which will smooth out my income if things prove to be slow in Europe as we get established in Amsterdam.
I called this post “A Beginner’s Guide” because we’re the beginners here. This is by no means a full breakdown of the ins and outs of DAFT. Check back for more information as we sort through the immigration process for moving to the Netherlands!