The Netherlands offers a wealth of opportunities for American entrepreneurs who are seeking to start their own businesses and begin a new chapter in their lives. The Netherlands Friendship, Commerce, and Navigation Treaty, which is also referred to as the Dutch American Friendship Treaty (DAFT), signed between the United States and the Netherlands on March 27, 1956, gives this chance to American citizens. Due to this unique arrangement between two countries, American citizens can obtain a Dutch residence permit if they intend to start their own business in the Netherlands and make a substantial capital (investment) in their enterprise, regardless the type of business, the type of customers, or their origin.
What is a substantial amount?
To apply for a residency permit under the Dutch American Friendship Treaty, entrepreneurs must invest € 4,500 in their new Dutch business and provide evidence of this investment during the DAFT application process. However, it's important to note that these funds cannot be used for immediate business expenses. Instead, they must remain in the company's bank account for the duration of the visa. In other words, the investment must serve as a long-term commitment to the business rather than a short-term source of funding.
Validity of a DAFT visa
The DAFT visa is initially valid for a two-year period, and it can be renewed for up to five years. The visa limits the holder's work permit to their own business, which means they are not authorized to work for any other company without obtaining a separate work permit. In most cases, after five years of living and working in the Netherlands, DAFT visa holders are eligible for permanent Dutch residency. However, to qualify for this status, they will need to renew their DAFT visa at least once during their stay.
For a DAFT permit, learning the Dutch language is not mandatory. However, applicants are required to take a Dutch language test (inburgering) in order to be eligible for permanent residency or citizenship after five years of living in the Netherlands.
Opportunities for family members
If you hold a DAFT visa, you have the opportunity to bring your spouse or minor children with you to the Netherlands. They can obtain a family member residence permit from the IND. In case your partner is not legally married to you, you will need to provide evidence of a durable relationship.
Both your partner and children will be able to work in any capacity within the Netherlands, which is a broader work permit than the one granted to you as a DAFT holder. They can take on regular employment or start their own business. However, as a DAFT holder, you must remain self-employed in the business with which you made the application.
When and how to apply?
American citizens can travel to the Netherlands without a visa for up to 90 days. However, if they plan to apply for a DAFT visa, they can schedule an appointment with the Dutch Immigration and Naturalization Service-IND within this 90-day visa-free travel period to start their application process. This appointment marks the beginning of the DAFT visa application process, and it allows applicants to stay in the Netherlands for longer than 90 days, even if their visa has not yet been approved.
Please bear in mind that upon arriving in the Netherlands, it is advisable to schedule an appointment with your local Municipality ("Gemeente") as soon as possible. After the appointment, the Municipality will issue you a BSN (Citizen Service Number) within a few days.
The application costs € 350,00. However, if you currently have a residence permit as a start-up, a different amount will apply. For further details on fees, please refer to the Fees: application costs.
Waiting period for the decision on application
The Dutch Immigration and Naturalization Service (IND) is required to make a decision on a DAFT visa application within 90 days. However, in some cases, the IND may extend this decision period by up to six months if they need to seek advice from the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO). The decision period can also be extended if the application is incomplete, and in this case the IND will notify the applicant.
Decision on the application
After the IND has made a decision on the DAFT visa application, the applicant will receive a letter on this. If the application is approved, the applicant will need to schedule an appointment with the IND to collect the residence permit, based on the instructions provided in the letter. If the application is rejected, the applicant has the right to object against the decision.
Looking to apply for a DAFT visa? Our team of experienced immigration lawyers are ready to assist you every step of the way. Don't hesitate to reach out to us with any questions you may have - we're here to help!
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