Science - October 27, 2005

'Relax rules for skilled migrants'

The Dutch minister for economic affairs, Laurens Jan Brinkhorst, would like to see the rules for admitting foreign knowledge workers to the Netherlands made even more flexible. He believes that the Dutch economy could suffer as a result of too much bureaucracy.

The minister is quoted in the national newspaper Trouw of Wednesday 25 October. Although the rules for admitting highly-skilled foreigners into the Netherlands to work were relaxed in 2004, the streamlined procedure is not sufficient. The problem is that Dutch municipalities require everyone who wants to become resident in the Netherlands to produce a birth certificate. But a country like India only started issuing birth certificates in 1974. According to Brinkhorst, who is currently travelling with a trade delegation through India, the lack of a document should not form an obstacle, and the role of the Dutch local authorities should also be limited in this respect.

Brinkhorst also wants more people to be able to use the ‘knowledge desk’ (kennisloket). He was referring to situations such as extra employees being taken on to be able to meet a big order, or a group of people being transferred within a multinational. Brinkhorst has not yet discussed his ideas in the Cabinet.

The kennisloket as it now stands ensures that highly-skilled labour migrants can start work in the Netherlands within a couple of weeks of applying for a visa. They must have a minimum salary of 45 thousand euros and the rule does not apply to PhD researchers. Knowledge workers younger than thirty must earn a minimum of 33 thousand euros a year. / HOP, SvO

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