In a sharp change in policy, Amsterdam’s council-backed expat centre is to start charging fees for its services from April 1.
The Amsterdam Expatcenter was set up five years ago to streamline and reduce red tape for people coming to the Netherlands under the highly-skilled migrant scheme.
It now deals with some 6,000 new arrivals a year and covers Amstelveen, Haarlemermeer and Almere as well as the capital.
The fees will range from €50 for a simple procedure for EU nationals to €210 for a more complicated application from a non-EU citizen, the centre said in a statement.
The decision to introduce fees has been prompted by an annual 10% increase in the number of people and companies using its services, centre director David van Traa said.
City council and regional officials have now decided that ‘to accommodate the growth in demand for our services and to maintain our high service quality, we will need to charge a fee,’ Van Traa said in the statement.
The Netherlands has a number of council-run operations where internationals can ask for advice and information. Some, including Amsterdam, Rotterdam and The Hague can also process knowledge migrant paperwork.
There are also several commercial companies which use the ‘expat centre’ tag but are not council-backed.
Last year, a report for the economic affairs ministry recommended improving the coordination between the various expat centres as well as integrating and centralising some of their activities.
‘There are differences in form, financing and expansion plans,’ the report said. ‘Both national government and the regional centres themselves see a need to coordinate future developments.’
Eindhoven-based Holland Expat Center South uses a similar business model to Amsterdam but is not planning to introduce fees at the moment.
‘But I expect a nationwide discussion on this topic in the coming months,’ the centre’s director Kris de Prins told DutchNews.nl.