Trying to find legitimate work as an American anywhere in Europe can be difficult. Right now, the Netherlands has a strong economy and low unemployment rate, and a lot of their business dealings are done in English. If I could get a work permit, I would have a pretty good chance at finding a job – even though I don’t speak Dutch.
I've mentioned this in earlier entries, but there's a basic order of how I need to do things in order to move to Amsterdam. Because I'm American, I do not need to apply for a visa (MVV, or Machtiging voor Voorlopig Verblijf). However, once I'm in Amsterdam, I need to apply for a residence permit. I'll need to have legal residence, proof of income, and a reason for living in Amsterdam other than the fact that I just like all the bikes. That's step one.
If I want a job in Amsterdam, I need a work permit, but how? I'm moving to Amsterdam on my own, just me and my US passport (and my aspirations to make documentary films, but that’s not going to pay the bills). Well, there is something called "de kennismigrant," or a "Knowledge migrant" permit. Expat Law sums up the requirements and rules for this particular permit:
Dutch employers are permitted to hire non-EU nationals without work permits if the following requirements are met:
1. The employer has enrolled in the IND Highly Skilled Migrant Program
2. The job pays a salary that meets or exceeds the minimum annual gross salary requirements which are based on the age of the employee. For 2007, the minimum annual salary requirement is €46,541 for employees 30 years of age or older, and €34,130 for employees younger than 30 years of age. The income criterion does not apply if the employee enters the employment of an educational or research institute as a PhD student, nor does it apply to post-docs and university teachers under 30 years of age.
There's also the Dutch-American Friendship Treaty, which basically means that Americans are welcome to move to the Netherlands to start up a (profitable) business. "In contrast to other non-EU nationals who want to work in the Netherlands on a self-employed basis, Americans applying under the treaty do not need to satisfy the 'essential Dutch economic interest' test which is applied to non-EU businesses." There are a lot of requirements to meet, of course, including having at least €4,500 ($6,622 USD) in cash. Again, it's kind of nice to know that this exists, but I don't know if it would really help me. Under the rules of the Dutch-American Friendship Treaty, "self-employment activities are only permitted in connection with the business plan." I wouldn’t be allowed to work for other employers (legally). If I get to the point where I want to start a production company, it's great to know that this Treaty exists... but I don't think I'm quite ready for that now.
What I would like to find is some kind of rule that allows me to live in the Netherlands while freelancing for American clients. When I move to Amsterdam in April, I will have enough in savings to get by for a while. According to
The Ministry of Social Affairs & Employment for the Netherlands, the gross minimum wage for everyone over the age of 23 is €1,317 a month (that's $1,938 USD). What if I could prove that I could make that on my own, from American clients? That's only $485 a week. I guess that wouldn't really help me in terms of getting a work permit in Amsterdam, but I wonder if it would help at all in getting a residence permit, at least for a year.
It's so hard to imagine how people learned about all this stuff before the internet.