It’s Dutch American Friendship Day and the DAFT visa is not as stupid as it may sound

It’s Dutch American Friendship Day and the DAFT visa is not as stupid as it may sound

Today, the Netherlands and the United States celebrate their friendship which stretches back 226 years. But it’s more than an excuse to have a party. The treaty recognising the relationship between these two nations also offers the opportunity for citizens to move to the other country under the DAFT visa. Molly Quell finds out more. The Netherlands and the US began diplomatic relations way back in 1782 and the Netherlands was the second country to recognise the US as an independent nation - after Morocco. Indeed, the US relationship with the Dutch is the longest, unbroken peaceful relationship that it has with any nation. During the 1950s, the US went on a charm offensive in an effort to combat the spread of communism by the then USSR. As part of this officials signed a number of so-called friendship treaties with other nations. The Dutch-American Friendship Treaty, or DAFT, was signed in The Hague on March 27, 1956.   Many of these treaties, including DAFT, made vague promises to promote trade and commerce. 'Most of the provisions are irrelevant,' says Jeremy Bierbach, an immigration lawyer who specialises in the visas created by the treaty. However, DAFT also stipulates that a special visa should be created for either American or Dutch entrepreneurs who want to establish businesses in the other country - and that has proved a success to many. Kathy Merrill and her husband picked the Netherlands specifically because of the DAFT treaty. 'My husband was working in Germany but didn’t like the job. He started freelancing there but the bureaucracy was awful. We started looking around and found this opportunity in the Netherlands,' she says. Red tape DAFT removes many of the bureaucratic hurdles that entrepreneurs normally face in obtaining a visa to work in the Netherlands. The amount of money that must be invested in the company was set at 10,000 guilders, now €4,500. The treaty also removes otherwise obligatory integration requirements. While the Netherlands has maintained all of these provisions since the signing, the US has not been so generous. The US raised its investment requirement to around $100,000 and has tightened other restrictions as well. 'Legally, there’s nothing stopping the Netherlands from doing the same,' says Bierbach. 'It’s only the generosity of the country.' 'I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for DAFT,' says Tara Michael. She had been living in the Netherlands for eight years before applying, having originally come to the country to study. After her divorce, she had a gap before she could apply for permanent residency and the DAFT visa allowed her to stay until she was eligible. But as Mandie van der Meer discovered, you have to be a true entrepreneur to utilise the visa. Like Michael, she sought out a stop-gap measure after the immigration service said her Dutch partner didn’t earn enough money to qualify to sponsor her for a partner visa. Her immigration lawyer suggested DAFT and Van der Meer applied for and got a permit in 2011. Unlike Michael, however, van der Meer wasn’t a natural business owner. 'I didn’t want to be the boss,' she said. Michael, however, had been running her small business helping student athletes to study abroad for years prior to applying and found the application process significantly easier. That doesn’t mean everyone finds it simple. Real business 'You have to be a real business owner,' Bierbach says. Not only do you have to invest in your company, you must also be registered with the KvK (Chamber of Commerce), open a business bank account and provide IND with a business plan. To be able to renew the visa, the entrepreneur must demonstrate their company is making a profit.  The total number of applicants, however, is low. According to the Dutch immigration service, there were 360 DAFT visa applications in 2017. This is up from 2015 (230) and 2016 (320), which is as far back as they could provide data for. In 2016 and 2017, 100% of those applications were successful. Bierbach, however, stresses that the application isn’t just rubber stamped. 'You can’t be living off of your savings or running a business elsewhere in the world,' he says. Friendship day The DAFT visa is just one part of the formalisation of the links between the Netherlands and the US. It was in 1982, after lobbying by Roberta Enschede of Overseas Americans Remember (OAR), that president Ronald Reagan signed the Joint Resolution - HJ 410 - which declared April 19th as the official Dutch-American Friendship Day. 'The treaty celebrates 200 years of Dutch and American trading history,' says Dennis Cowles, president of the Amsterdam American Business Club which group holds an annual networking event on the day to celebrate, 'so we try to keep it alive.'  More >

'Go to as many museums as you can'

‘Get a Museumkaart and go to as many museums as you possibly can’ Author, publisher, and mentor Jo Parfitt describes herself as a ‘serial expat’. She’s run the steeplechase of raising two sons while cultivating a portable career across seven countries—and still she’s eager for more. Jo lives in The Hague, where last month she launched a new book Monday Morning Emails. She runs her own company Summertime Publishing. How did you end up in the Netherlands? I moved abroad the day after I got married, in 1987. He, my husband, had already been posted to Dubai and we had to get married for me to be able to join him! We have been fortunate to have had many international postings: Dubai, Oman, Norway, the Netherlands, Brunei and Malaysia. My husband works for Shell. This is our second time in The Hague. How do you describe yourself - an expat, lovepat, immigrant, international etc - and why? I would describe myself as a ‘serial expat’. We have moved again, and again, and again, and it’s something that I don’t necessarily want to stop...  More >

Dutch castles, forts and fortified towns

A slice of Dutch history: castles, forts and fortified towns to visit Ever fancied playing monarch for a day? Enjoying some jousting, a feast fit for a king or wandering in the lanes of the royal gardens? Here in the Netherlands there is a rich and varied heritage sector: from sites of archaeological interest to romantic retreats in restored castles. Muiderslot The ‘Muiderslot’ is barely a 30 minute drive from central Amsterdam but it feels surprisingly rural. Just outside the pretty town of Muiden, this 13th century keep was first erected by the famous knight Floris V. Shortly afterwards however, Floris met a sticky end and the castle was destroyed. Restored and strengthened in later years, it is now a beautiful living museum covering three main periods of history: the Middle Ages, the Golden Age and the 19th century. There are a wide variety of different kinds of activities on offer to the public: there are multiple treasure hunts for kids; glorious gardens to explore; an expansive collection of armour and regular exhibitions. This year they...  More >

Podcast: The Breaking Brabant Edition

DutchNews podcast – The Breaking Brabant Edition – Week 15 It's a week of shattered illusions on the podcast as a former CDA politician in Brabant is jailed for his part in the Netherlands' biggest ever drugs farm and a Jeff Koons sculpture meets an explosive fate in an Amsterdam church. Also: is the housing market overheating, why did a singing road lose its voice, and how did hawks and sea eagles become embroiled in a treetop turf war? Top story Former politician jailed for hosting Netherlands' biggest drugs lab on his farm News House prices approach 2008 record levels First-time buyers turning to 'bank of mum and dad' Dutch government waters down 'Big Brother' tapping law after 'no' vote Jeff Koons artwork accidentally destroyed by visitor Residents' protests silence musical road in Friesland Nest war breaks out between hawks and sea eagles Sport Dutch women's team close in on first World Cup qualification Hamilton and Verstappen mend fences after Bahrain collision (The Guardian) Discusion: 'Cocaine...  More >

A Tiny House as a Dutch home?

Could a custom-made Tiny House be your affordable new home? Who would want to live in a space the size of a shed at the mercy of the elements? Deborah Nicholls-Lee finds out why the Tiny House movement is gaining ground in the Netherlands. Sometimes a queue forms outside Marjolein Jonker’s Alkmaar home. She enjoys showing people around her house, but at just 20m², only a few visitors at a time can fit inside. Co-designed with students from the TU Delft and parked since 2016 on grassy wasteland where a gas factory once stood, Marjolein’s Tiny House was one of the first of its kind in the Netherlands. Marjolein (42) co-founded Stichting Tiny House Nederland in 2015 and is one of the most active voices in the Tiny House movement here which, in times of sky-high property prices and massive personal debt, is gathering momentum (see map). Tiny Houses are cleverly-designed homes, no more than 50m², which make efficient use of a small space. Most, like Marjolein’s, have self-sufficient features such as a composting toilet, a rain...  More >

The best, and most bizarre, Dutch burgers

Ingeburgered? Then here are a few of the best and most bizarre burgers in NL The Netherlands is in the middle of a full-fledged burger bonanza. It seems like there’s a cafe devoted to them on every corner, especially in Amsterdam. This means there’s a burger for nearly every taste, whether you’re a vegetarian or eat red meat with every meal. Here’s Brandon Hartley’s picks for a few of the best, weirdest, and wildest ones in the country. A burger for those who consider variety the spice of life Burgermeester - Amsterdam Since 2007, Burgermeester has specialised in a wide array of burgers. They now have four locations in the nation’s capital where you can enjoy ones with patties made out of everything from salmon to apples and cheese. There’s several beefy burgers too, of course, and they include the ‘Cheese Deluxe’ (Blonde d’Aquitaine beef, cheddar, jalapeños, pancetta, onions, and harissa mayo). Burgermeester also has a monthly burger. The one for March was a vegan option with a spicy falafel patty. If you can’t pick just one, try...  More >

The Netherlands is full of valleys

You might not be aware of it, but the Netherlands is full of valleys As every cyclist knows the Netherlands is as flat as a pancake, bar a few hillocks in the province of Limburg. However, over the last few years, the Netherlands had become riddled with valleys. Food Valley, Metal Valley, Seed Valley - the country is positively mountainous. The fashion for valleys can be blamed squarely on the wits of those who decided to call part of California Silicon Valley because of all the tech companies that are based there. Perhaps not realising that this area in American actually was bound in by hills, Dutch PR whizzkids have leapt on the valley concept and use it to describe any cluster of industrial activity. Here's a list. Food Valley Food Valley is not an area where five star restaurants are jostling for space but a commercial partnership between lots of companies and what they call 'knowledge institutes' dealing with (agro) food production and innovation. How green is this valley? Quite green in fact, as Food Valley inexplicably takes in the Veluwe...  More >

Podcast: The Arm All Prostitutes Edition

DutchNews podcast – The Arm All Prostitutes Edition – Week 14 After scoffing all their Easter chocolate in record time, the podcast team return with news of the Dutch lawyer jailed for his part in Donald Trump's rise to power, why the supermarkets came under fire for their part in English football fans' latest rampage through Amsterdam, and the man ordered by his local council to hunt down and catch a school of vanishing goldfish. We also look at proposals to change the security law, in the wake of the sleepwet referendum, and rules on bankers' pay in the wake of ING's climbdown on their chief executive's salary. In our discussion we ask if freedom of speech should be restricted after Rotterdam mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb was called an 'infidel' in a video blog by an imam. Top story Ministers to review security services law in wake of referendum 'no' News Dutch banker is first person to be jailed over Trump-Russia investigation Finance minister plans to tighten rules on bankers' pay MH17 experts counter Russian 'fighter jet' theory Police...  More > destinations: Rotterdam destinations: take the train for a weekend in Rotterdam With Eurostar now running a three-hour service from London to Rotterdam, the city's fortunes as a tourist hub are set to boom. So, get over there now and appreciate the fantastic views, great museums and excellent cocktails before the British stag parties take over, says Molly Quell. Only slightly smaller than Amsterdam by population, Rotterdam is the Netherland's second largest city. It is home to the largest port in Europe, a fact which is partially responsible for its diverse population - more than half of the city’s residents have at least one parents who was born abroad. Rotterdam was granted city rights in 1340 but was, famously, nearly totally destroyed during World War II, leaving the city with a much more modern skyline than the capital. Get walking The city is too large to do a walking tour of everything, but you can easily get around with the city’s bus and tram system, but also the water taxi system. It’s fast, efficient and just a lot of fun. Go up the Euromast,...  More >

'I plan to stay here forever, no question'

‘I plan to stay here forever, no question. My wife and everyone I love, is here’ While he was working at NASA, Houston resident Carl Guderian decided he was ready for a change. A trip to an event for hackers in Lelystad wound up changing his life forever. He now lives in Amsterdam where he works as an engineer. How did you end up in the Netherlands? Around 1990, I was besotted with Mondo 2000 and Wired Magazine and I hung out with hackers. By 1991, I’d also gotten most of my way through a graduate study of Futures Forecasting and picked the newfangled Internet as my subject of study. In 1993, I went to a hacker camp out near Lelystad called Hacking at the End of the Universe. I’d been working for seven years at NASA and I was looking for a change. I was also tired of working for a government contractor. I visited Amsterdam and the Hague and liked both, but I had no definite plans to move here. At that camp out, though, I met someone else from Houston and we got together a year later. As luck had it, those hackers I’d hung with all went to work for an...  More >

Blogwatching: Five bands from Amsterdam

Blogwatching: Five bands from Amsterdam that won’t let you sit still Ana V. Martins is a Portuguese actress and a writer who lives in Amsterdam. Her blog AmsterDive is about her relationship with Amsterdam with a focus on arts and culture. In this post, she writes about five of the lesser known Amsterdam bands who get her feet moving. Ah, bands from Amsterdam! Not the good old classics, not the über famous ones. Real bands composed of real people who make real sound and play in real concerts that real people attend. Some of these musicians are folks whose activity I follow closely because I KNOW that whatever they are involved in, it’s bound to be good (or simply put, bound to make me happy). This is how I have seen a couple of these bands a few times already (Furake, Conjunto Papa Upa) and don’t seem to get tired of it. If you’re into dancing like a freak, this is possibly going to be your pool as well. Let’s jump right in. Furake Furake is an experimental project which has West African music at its core. It combines n’goni, balaphone,...  More >