Step by step guide to applying for a DAFT visa for American citizens

There are many opportunities awaiting Americans who are free-spirited entrepreneurs, set on starting their lives and their own businesses in the Netherlands. 

Due to a special agreement between the Dutch and American law, there are many ways for US citizens to migrate to the Netherlands. This agreement is known as the Dutch American Friendship Treaty which was established on March 27, 1956. You can find more information on the DAFT benefits and requirements below.

What Is a DAFT Visa?

The Dutch American Friendship Treaty, also known as a DAFT visa, is an agreement that allows US entrepreneurs and investors to obtain a Dutch residence permit if they make an investment of at least €4,500. This residence permit is valid for two years, and you can apply for a permanent residency permit after five years

How Is the DAFT Visa Different From a Regular Freelance Visa?

The Dutch American Friendship Treaty (DAFT) provides a more streamlined process of immigration for the US and Dutch citizens. Usually, all foreign entrepreneurs who wish to invest in Dutch territory must prove that their business is of interest to the Dutch economy, by way of a point-based test system. The Dutch American Friendship Treaty, however, allows American entrepreneurs to bypass the test requirement. 

Within the DAFT program, there is no point system required to start a business or company in the Netherlands as a US citizen. This is also valid for Dutch entrepreneurs or investors who want to start a business in the US. Learn how to move to the Netherlands from the USA.

Additionally, a regular freelancer visa allows all non-EU citizens to work in the Netherlands as freelancers, whereas the DAFT visa is only valid for American citizens.

Who Is Eligible for a DAFT Visa?

You are eligible for a DAFT visa if you are a US entrepreneur, who wishes to migrate to the Netherlands and work as a freelancer or self-employed. The eligibility criteria are:

  • You must be specialized in a field in which you can be self-employed, such as IT software, web development, accounting, management consultation, graphic design, interior/exterior design, translation, etc.
  • You must have personal work experience.
  • You must have a business plan.
  • You must be able to invest at least €4500 in the Dutch economy. 

You will be asked to submit legal certifications according to your professional background as proof.

Note: Applying for a DAFT visa means you want to work in the Netherlands as a freelancer. If you would like to work in the Netherlands in a separate company or business, you must acquire a work permit.

How to Apply for a DAFT Visa?

To apply for a DAFT visa, follow these steps:

  1. Schedule an Appointment With the IND.
  2. Collect all the Required Documents for a DAFT Visa.
  3. Submit Your Application.
  4. After Your Temporary Visa is Approved.
  5. Obtain Your DAFT Visa.

Step 1. Schedule an Appointment With the IND

Since Americans can travel to the Netherlands without a visa for 90 days, you can schedule an appointment with the Dutch Immigration and Naturalization Service-IND within the 90-day visa-free travel period. Scheduling an appointment with the IND starts your DAFT visa application, allowing you to stay in the Netherlands longer than 90 days, even if you have yet to receive your visa.

Step 2. Collect all the Required Documents for a DAFT Visa

You will be asked to submit the following documents when you apply for the DAFT visa:

  • Your passport. Your US passport must include copies of all the travel stamps.
  • The application form. The application form can be found on the Immigration Service website and it must be submitted with other documents.
  • Proof of the investment. You will be required to provide a bank statement proving that you have submitted the investment amount.
  • The payment for the Dutch PIN card. The price for the Dutch PIN card is €65.
  • The BSN number. In order for your documents to be valid, you must obtain a BSN number during your first appointment with the IND.

When you submit your application, the IND will also ask to photograph your fingerprints.

Step 3. Submit Your Application

During your first meeting with the IND, you must clarify that you wish to apply for a DAFT visa. All applications for the DAFT visa must be submitted in person to the Dutch Immigration and Naturalization Service. 

Step 4. After Your Temporary Visa is Approved

Before you can finalize your DAFT visa, you must complete the following procedures: 

  1. Registration at the town’s Dutch municipality (Gemeente). You must register within five days of your arrival in the Netherlands. Once you apply, you will be given a citizen service number.
  2. Registration at DigiD. DigiD is an online government service you must register for since it is needed for the Dutch tax system.
  3. Registration of your business. You must register your business at the Dutch Business Registry.
  4. Register at the KVK. The KVK (short for Kamer van Koophandel) is the Chamber of Commerce in the Netherlands. All entrepreneurs must register at the KVK and pay a €65 fee for the Dutch PIN card.
  5. Register a new bank account in a Dutch bank. You will be asked to open a cooperative bank account and you are allowed to do so at any Dutch bank.

You will also be asked to submit proof of your financial stability (income of at least €1,280 a month), your driver’s license, proof that you are a licensed professional, and the payment of the DAFT visa.

All registrations must be done during the validity period of the temporary visa.

Step 5. Obtain Your DAFT Visa

After you finalize all the necessary procedures and registrations, you can then submit proof of your registration to obtain the DAFT visa. You can submit these documents to the IND either in person or by post.  

After you have finished all of the steps above, you will be granted a DAFT visa.

Do I Need to Know the Dutch Language with a DAFT Visa?

The DAFT visa does not require any Dutch language proficiency level. If you reside in the Netherlands for five continuous years and would like to apply for a permanent residence permit, you will be required to learn the Dutch language. The Dutch language proficiency requirement is also needed for acquiring Dutch citizenship.

DAFT Visa Price

The fees you must pay for your DAFT visa application process are

Investments in the Dutch economy.Minimum €4,500
DAFT visa€1,446
If you hold a StartUp Residence Permit€387
Monthly Financial RequirementMinimum €1,200

If you undergo the DAFT visa application procedure through a third-party visa application website, you may be asked to pay additional fees.

How Long Does It Take to Get a DAFT Visa?

You can expect to get an answer on your DAFT visa application after four months. This waiting time is prior to change and you are advised to ask for the processing time when you apply at the Immigration and Naturalization Service – IND.

What If My DAFT Visa Is Rejected?

Your DAFT visa may be rejected if you don’t meet the requested requirements. If by any chance your application gets rejected, you may apply for a review on your application. You can apply for the appeal until four weeks. You must submit missing documentation or if the IND has made a mistake, you can submit your legal argument on why your DAFT visa application should have been accepted. 

If the IND rejects your appeal as well, you are allowed to ask the Alien Court for help on your application.

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