Pursuant to a decision of the State Council on December 24th 2014, Japanese nationals have free access to the Dutch labour market. An interpretation of the Dutch – Japanese Trade Treaty (1912) and the Dutch – Swiss Friendship Treaty (1875), based on the most favoured nation clause in the Japanese Trade Treaty, resulted in the conclusion that Japanese are equalled to Swiss nationals, who already were equalled to Dutch nationals. Based on this interpretation , Japanese nationals can derive rights from the Dutch – Swiss Treaty. Conclusion, as no work permit is required under the Swiss Treaty, Japanese nationals are exempted from the Dutch work permit requirement.
The Dutch government was reluctant about the outcome, a legal basis was never enforced and, behind the scenes, the government was looking at ways to bypass the decision of the State Council. Diplomatic correspondence between the Dutch and Swiss governments resulted in a two-page agreement on Monday June 21st 2016, clarifying that the temporary and permanent residence status together with the access to the labour market are subject to national legislation and thus eliminates any most favoured nation clause in the Japanese Trade Treaty. Effective immediately, but with a transition period until October 1st 2016, Japanese nationals are no longer exempt from the requirement to have Dutch work authorisation and must fulfil all requirements under the Dutch Foreign Employment Act.
What happens to those Japanese nationals living in the Netherlands with a residence permit stating that they are free on the labour market (work authorisation not required)? What happens to extensions of residence permits for Japanese nationals who, presently, do not require work authorisation?
Japanese nationals, free to work on the labour market without work authorisation, may continue to do so until the expiration date of their present residence permit. Present residence permits will not be withdrawn. Extensions that need to be filed as of October 1st 2016 will be tested against the Dutch Foreign Employment Act making work authorisation mandatory.