Bachelor’s, Master’s, or PhD degree graduates from both Dutch and leading foreign universities can apply for an orientation year permit to live in the Netherlands for one year to look for work.
Foreigners who are highly educated graduates can legally live in the Netherlands by applying for a Dutch residence permit for the purpose of taking one ‘orientation year’.
If you’ve been awarded a Bachelor’s, Master’s, or PhD degree from a Dutch university or abroad at one of the world’s top universities within the last three years, you can apply for a residence permit to stay in the Netherlands for one year to look for work.
Who can apply for an orientation year Dutch permit?
To apply for this permit, in addition to holding a valid passport/travel ID, and not being a ‘threat to public order’ (ie. no criminal record or cases pending), you must:
- have been awarded, no more than three years ago, a Master’s degree or PhD in the Netherlands or at one of the universities listed in the top 200 of the latest Times Higher Education World University Rankings, QS World University Rankings or Academic Ranking of World Universities (also known as the Jiao Tong Shanghai ranking);
- have a written diploma evaluation from Nuffic (a Dutch organization for international cooperation in higher education), if your qualification is from outside the Netherlands;
- not have previously held a Dutch residence permit to seek work (ie. you can only apply for this permit once);
- score at least 35 out of 40 points on a points system assessed by the IND (eg. you can score 25 points for a Master’s degree, 5 points for being aged 21–40, 5 points for either working or studying in the Netherlands for the previous six months, or 5 points for holding a Dutch language diploma level A2).
Read the full conditions for this permit.
How to apply for your Dutch residence permit
Depending on your nationality, you may need a provisional residence permit (MVV) to enter the Netherlands and/or a residence permit to stay in the country for more than three months. Different rules apply to citizens from the European Union (EU), the European Economic Area (EEA; EU plus Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Norway) or Switzerland.
Since 2013, it has been possible for non-EU/EEA citizens to apply for both permits in one application, known as the Entry and Residence Procedure (TEV), which can be submitted by you or a sponsor on your behalf. This has made the process easier.
Find out if you need an MVV for entering the Netherlands, or if you only need to submit an application for a Dutch residence permit: Dutch provisional residence permits (MVV) and temporary residence permits.
Where to go
If you’re applying for the MVV and/or residence permits through the TEV procedure, you can apply through the Dutch embassy or consulate in your own country.
If you don’t need an MVV, you can still apply through the TEV procedure via the Dutch embassy, so that your permit is ready when you arrive in the Netherlands.
If you have a sponsor in the Netherlands, they can submit an application on your behalf at the Immigration and Naturalisation Service (IND) while you’re still in your home country.
To apply, you can contact the IND by phone Monday to Friday, 9am–5pm on 088 0430 430 from within the Netherlands or +31 88 0430 430 from abroad; in most cases, you need an appointment to visit your nearest IND desk (with the exception of picking up your residence permit). The IND answers questions and provides information at @IND_NL. Sponsors or those already in the Netherlands can submit an application by post: the address is listed on the application form.
If you’re applying through the TEV procedure, see the website of the Dutch embassy in your home country for an application form before you arrive. If you are not, then you can the download application form from the IND.
You will need to show with your passport/ID, and a legalised (authenticated) copy of your Master’s diploma or doctorate from the Dutch or foreign university – and, if the latter, you’ll also need a Nuffic diploma evaluation. All documents must be in Dutch, English, French or German.
For information on legalising and translating your documents, read how to prepare supporting documents for Dutch visa and permit applications.
For the points system, you’ll need (where applicable) to submit an employment contract if you have previously worked in the Netherlands, proof of any previous study in the Netherlands (of at least six months) or a copy of the Dutch language diploma ‘Nederlandsetaal NT2, level 2′.
If you received your qualification outside the Netherlands and in a non-English-speaking country, then you will need a copy of the certificate English IELTS (International English Language Testing System) level 6, and a copy of a Master’s/Bachelor’s diploma from an institute of higher education from one of the 47 ‘Bologna’ countries (click here for the list).
The non-refundable permit fee (EUR 622 at 1 January 2016) is payable when you submit your application. Fees are reviewed at the beginning and middle of the year; see the latest fees here.
You must allow up to 90 days for the IND to make a decision.
Once you have your Dutch residence permit
How long is the permit valid for?
The permit is valid for one year only and cannot be extended. If you wish to stay longer in the Netherlands, you have to apply for a new residence permit, depending on the reason for your stay.
You can work without any restrictions on this permit for one year, but to keep working in the Netherlands after that you will need to get a new permit based on a different purpose (for example, as a highly-skilled migrant, an employee or self-employed worker). Depending on your new Dutch permit, you may or may not need a work permit.
If you have found a job as a highly skilled migrant or scientific researcher, then your potential employer (not you) can apply for a new residence permit as a highly skilled worker and won’t need a work permit for you.
If you have found a job but not as a highly skilled worker, you can apply for a permit as an employee or ‘labour migrant’ – but your employer will need to hold a work permit for you.
Read the complete guide to Dutch visas and permits to find out if you’re eligible to apply for a new residence permit with a different purpose of stay.