Two years after first deciding to abolish the scheme, the Dutch government announced the Netherlands Investor Visa will close to new applicants from tomorrow, October 1st.
Since 2013, exactly ten investors have qualified for Dutch residency through the program, according to an article in MT/Sprout.
Niels Van Duuren and Hidde Tepstra of Amsterdam-based immigration consultancy OrangeVisas lament the closing of the program “at a time when it is much much more difficult for startups to obtain capital.”
The firm’s founders say it has “several families at the beginning of the [application] pipeline. […] Wealthy people want to move to the Netherlands; should you refuse them? Especially if they want to invest EUR 1.25 million in Dutch startups.”
Limited economic contribution and EU concerns motivated the decision
Responding to parliamentary questions originating in the MT/Sprout article, State Secretary Eric van der Burg indicated there were two primary reasons for the decision: Limited economic impact and consideration for the EU’s animosity toward such schemes.
“The experience of the past decade is that the arrival of wealthy foreigners in the Netherlands has made only a marginal contribution to the Dutch business climate and the financing of startups,” commented the Minister.
“The main reason is the minimal use of the scheme. Consideration was given to whether the admission scheme could be modified while retaining safeguards against abuse, and this proved not to be readily available. In addition, the critical discussions about this type of arrangement in the Netherlands and the EU also play a role.”
He also pointed out that the program had shown “no signs of criminal abuse” and said the scrapping of the scheme was not related to insufficient capacity to conduct applicant vetting on the part of authorities.
Questioned as to whether the reason the program had seen so little interest was a lack of awareness among investors, the State Secretary said he did not believe it was, pointing out that both the initial launch in 2013 and the reform in 2016 had been accompanied by “extensive publicity.”
Asked whether “adequate promotion from the business community or a government campaign” could help to drum up higher application volumes, the State Secretary responded that, “given past experience, the Cabinet does not consider this likely” because wealthy investors who buy visas tend not to relocate to the Netherlands or even the EU. Therefore, he posited, they were unlikely to become active participants in the Dutch economy.
He also emphasized that other EU member states, with “more lenient criteria in terms of amounts to invest or safeguards against money laundering,” offered more attractive alternatives.