Most highly skilled migrants gain access to the Netherlands through the “Highly Skilled Migrants Scheme”, which guarantees quick processing and high acceptance rates for migrants whose wages are above a certain threshold. The rationale is that income reflects productivity and hence the worker’s value to the economy. In light of that rationale, an above-average income threshold was established to ensure above-average contributions to the Dutch economy.

There is no evidence that the higher threshold for migrants aged 30 and above would keep many highly skilled migrants from working in the Netherlands. Nor is there any evidence of large selection effects. The number of highly skilled migrants aged 30 is just slightly lower than the figure for those aged 29: only around 70 individuals in 2012, and fewer in the preceding years.

High skilled migrants with a working partner have a higher chance of staying longer in the Netherlands. If policy aims to encourage highly skilled migrants to stay for longer period of time, there may be room for improvement in this regard. Between 2005 and 2012, no more than 26 percent of the migrants’ partners held jobs. If more partners could be enabled or encouraged to work at the Dutch labour market, migrants would stay in the Netherlands longer.

Foreign students in higher education benefit from work experience during their studies. It raises their chances of being able to stay in the Netherlands in the first few years after graduation. The magnitude of the effect, however, is rather small. There is a stronger reversed causality: students with the intention to remain longer in the Netherlands are more inclined to build up (relevant) work experience while they are studying. As a consequence, policies that increase opportunities for foreign students to work more hours before graduation would hardly affect the duration of stay in the Netherlands after graduation.

This report has been used as input for the OECD-report ‘Recruiting Immigrant Workers: The Netherlands’: