Bram is a partner at Everaert Immigration Lawyers, and co-head of its corporate immigration practice group. He provides strategic immigration planning to multinational companies doing business in the Netherlands. He frequently teaches corporate immigration courses to local practitioners, and is a contributing co-editor to Asiel&Migrantenrecht, the leading Netherlands’ immigration law review.
What motivated you to specialise in immigration law?
When I was studying I found topics related to human rights and refugee law by far the most interesting. I then managed to get a job at the faculty’s migration law section, and had the privilege to work on a really interesting research project, assisting the European Commission on its evaluation on the European migration law directives. After my graduation I spent a few years as a legal adviser at the Ministry of Justice, on more abstract topics of administrative law, wholly unrelated to migration. There, at some point I realised I really wanted to work in the immigration law field again, with and for actual people. That moment was now around nine years ago, and I never looked back.
What do you enjoy most about working in corporate immigration?
Hands down, that would be the clients and our team. In corporate immigration you have the ability to build good and long-standing relationships with clients. We also have a great team of enthusiastic and smart people. On top of that, working alongside so many great professionals in the (international) field is something I cherish, and I am happy to now call many of my (international) colleagues my friends as well.
What do clients look for in an effective immigration adviser?
They trust you to know your stuff, and expect you to be able to translate strong legal knowledge into clear and pragmatic advice. Clients want their immigration processes to be as fast and efficient as possible, without cutting corners. Apart from the ability to provide high-end (compliance) advice, you also need a strong and enthusiastic team to provide a high level of quality and responsiveness in individual casework. You need both to make it work.
As the head of the firm’s employer sanctions department, what are your main priorities for the department’s development?
Employer sanctions are often the result of a number of poor or unfortunate business decisions. While we welcome new clients and will provide good counsel to those employers who have been sanctioned, we put even more work in trying to keep our current clients compliant. That is our number one priority.
In what ways does Everaert Advocaten distinguish itself from competitors?
I value and respect our relationship with our competitors, so I would not want to say we are better at this or that. What I can say, though, is that we have many clients that have been with us for decades. In a fast-paced and highly competitive market, I think that is still unique, and I think it says a lot about how we as a firm have built the relationship with our clients. It surely means we must be doing something right.
How do you anticipate the corporate immigration market changing in the next five years, and how will your practice adapt to these changes?
Digital immigration processing will become even more dominant than it is now. Therefore, a further shift from emphasis on application work to overall compliance is highly probable in our jurisdiction. With the changing forms of employment in this new economy, it will also be interesting to see if immigration regulations can keep up with these new realities. Our practice naturally adapts to any changes in the immigration system, but more than merely adapting to change, we try to be at the forefront in lobbying and liaising with our immigration authorities with the aim to translate our clients’ needs into workable policies.
What advice would you give to someone starting out in immigration practice?
If you’re really good, join us – we’re always looking for new talent!
Looking back over your career, what is the most interesting case you have been a part of and why?
A few years ago I was able to help a Lebanese woman in Beirut regain Dutch nationality. She had lost it in the 1960s as a result of her marriage to a Lebanese national. She had struggled to regain it ever since, without success. Even worse, the Dutch authorities questioned that she had ever been Dutch. We managed to retrace and document her Dutch lineage all the way back to 1891 and on appeal we ultimately won her back her Dutch citizenship. It sticks with me not because of the legal angle, but because of the client. Her husband had passed away a few years ago, and her children were living all over Europe. She couldn’t even visit her daughter for the birth of her first grandchild (she was denied a visitor visa), so she felt stuck. Winning the case gave her back her freedom to finally choose again where to go to and where to live. Years later they visited Amsterdam and we met. There she was, a proud grandmother, travelling together with her daughter and granddaughter. That was a good day.
Bram van Melle is highly commended for his “pragmatic and innovative” approach to business immigration issues. He has a proven track record advising multinational companies looking to set up in the Netherlands.
Bram van Melle is a partner and co-head of the firm's corporate immigration practice. His practice focuses on business immigration. His client base is quite diverse, ranging from large multinational companies in need of high-volume application work, to start-ups and individuals.
Bram provides strategic advice to the firm's multinational corporate clients, helping them to maintain compliance with immigration laws and regulations. He is committed to providing tailor-made counsel and a high level of service.
His application work includes all employment-related categories as well as complex sponsor registration applications and treaty investor and entrepreneur applications for clients from the US, Japan and Turkey.
His court work involves representing employers in appeals against employer sanctions and private clients in appeals against refusals and revocations, notably if there are elements of EU law.
Bram is a well sought-after expert on Dutch nationality law and is often asked to advise clients living abroad who seek to retain Dutch nationality or acquire it by naturalisation or entitlement.
Bram is a contributing co-editor to Asiel&Migrantenrecht, the leading Netherlands' immigration law review. He is frequently invited to speak at (inter)national conferences, including AILA and IBA and is a guest lecturer at VU Amsterdam University.
Bram is a member of the WRV (the Dutch professional organisation for immigration attorneys), the IBA, and AILA, and chair of its GMS conference committee.
Before joining Everaert, Bram worked at the Ministry of Security and Justice and the Ministry of Interior Affairs and Kingdom Relations.