One of the most asked questions I get is how in the world did I get a visa to live in the Netherlands. Well, luckily for me, I was in a long-distance relationship with a Dutch guy who could sponsor my visa. Moving to the Netherlands was so much easier than I expected. There were a lot of steps to go through of course, but I think it’s one of the easier countries to move to. A lot of people have asked me what exams I had to take, how much it cost, how long can I stay here, and can I work here, etc. So I’m answering all of those questions in this blog post.
How My Dutch Partner Kevin and I Met
Kevin and I met in August 2017 on a mountain on the Big Island of Hawaii called Mauna Kea. Our meeting was completely organic and like something out of the movies. You can read all about it in my blog post titled “My International Love Story” We spent a few days together before Kevin flew home to the Netherlands. At the beginning of September 2017, I decided to move to NYC because there were more opportunities for me there.
Kevin stayed true to his word, and in November 2017, he came to visit me in NYC. From there, we flew back and forth and traveled to many countries together. It started with only seeing each other every few months and ended with us seeing each other almost every month. Finally, in December 2018, I decided enough is enough. So I bought a one-way plane ticket to the Netherlands.
How I Got My 5 Year Visa
As an American, I am allowed to stay in most European countries for three months without a visa. So I didn’t need a visa to come here. After a month or so, I started the process of applying for a partner visa. Unlike in the USA, in the Netherlands, you don’t need to be married for your partner to sponsor you. Kevin and I had to provide lots of documentation proving that we were in a relationship. This included everything from plane tickets and hotel reservations to photos and more.
In addition to that, Kevin had to prove that he could provide for me. Even though I can legally work with my visa, Kevin is responsible for my financial wellbeing. That means we also cannot apply for any housing assistance and such. If Kevin loses his job, it may be that after a few months of him being unemployed, I’d have to go back to America. I also had to go to the American embassy in Amsterdam and swear that I was not married. Then I had to take that paper to the government office in The Hague to get it stamped so it was official.
The Dutch Government Is Very Swift
To this day, I am still so impressed by how fast the Dutch government does everything. Within a few months, I got my biometrics done and I could pick up my 5-year visa. The visa is contingent on me being with Kevin. So if we ever break up, I’d have to apply for a different visa or go back to America. I also can apply for Dutch citizenship after 3 to 5 years, depending on if I’m married to Kevin.
After getting my visa, I got my BSN number, which is like an American social security number. Then I had to register my address with the city. In addition, I had to get my American birth certificate apostilled and hand a scan of it over to the city. But I didn’t actually do this until the summer of 2021. Once I was all registered with the city, I got myself a general practitioner (GP). I think I finally completed all these steps by June 2019. So from moving to the Netherlands to getting a GP, it took around 6 months.
What Else I Needed to Do
Now that all of that was taken care of, I could start learning Dutch. Legally I have to take 5 immigration exams – 4 are language exams and 1 is for culture and history. The level of Dutch of these exams is A2. In addition, I had to take a culture class called participatieverklaring. It translates to participation statement but it’s essentially a culture class. It was just a class for a few hours and then I got/sign a certificate of completion. I also have to take an orientation to show that I know how to find a job. But since I am a business owner, I am going to apply for an exemption.
Usually, you have to do all of the above within 3 years of getting your visa. But because of the current situation, most people got an extension. So now I have until early 2023. So far I have taken and passed 3 of the exams. I am waiting for the result of the 4th one. So I only have one more to take. I have also completed the participatieverklaring. If you are wondering how in the world I keep track of everything, the inburgering website keeps track of what you did and what is left.
The Costs of Immigrating
To be completely transparent, I have been studying at a Dutch school that is not accredited. What that means is, if I cannot pass the exams, I will have to pay a massive fine or even have to go back to America. This is because if you study at an accredited school, you can prove you tried to learn and not have to face consequences. I do not go to such a school because the current school I go to only costs €2,50 per class. I go twice a week for 2 hours – a total of 4 hours.
Here’s how much it cost me to immigrate. These costs are based on my memory, my receipts, and my research from the Dutch immigration website IND. This will not be the same for everyone. It can also be that I left something out as this began 3 years ago. But I did my very best to find all my notes, documents, emails, etc so this will be as close to accurate as possible.
Dutch class: €2,50 per class
Visa application: €70
Immigration Exams: €350 for all 5. Each test costs €50.
Some Other Things I’d Like to Mention
Although I do agree that the Netherlands is a fair and equal country, there are some things that are weird. For example, I cannot drive with my American driver’s license here. But someone who comes on a work visa from America is allowed to. I think this is discriminatory.
People who come here on a work visa or from other EU countries also don’t have to take the exams, etc. I don’t agree with that. Either everyone has to learn the language and culture, or no one has to. Personally, I think everyone should do it. I had such a hard time getting a bank account here. My bank didn’t want to give me an account because I’m American. Kevin had to threaten to sue them before they finally agreed. It is illegal to discriminate based on your country of origin.
Please keep in mind that this is my experience. So your experience may be different. If you’d like to know the process for you, I advise that you check the Dutch government website. The website is also in English. There are many different types of visas available for foreigners. So if you want to move here, be sure to check out the IND website.
Feel free to let me know what you think of this process in the comments. Is it too much? Is it too expensive? Do you have a specific question about something I mentioned? I’d love to hear it all. Thank you so much for reading! Follow me on my Instagram and my Facebook for more about my life in the Netherlands.
The featured photo was taken by Urte Bara.