After graduation

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Have you graduated/are you graduating soon and you would like to know what you can do after your graduation? Please find three options below:

  • Checklist. Go to our checklist to see what you should do if you’re done with your studies and you’ll be leaving the Netherlands.
  • Orientation year. Are you not ready to leave the Netherlands yet? Then apply for a year in which you can ‘orient’ yourself in the working world of the Netherlands. You can find more information about this orientation year on this page below.
  • Career service. Take a look at the page of career service. They can help you with all your questions regarding your preparation for the labour market and can help you to discover your interests and qualities. Furthermore, they also offer several workshops.

What is the orientation year?

  • The orientation year was designed to bring highly educated internationals into the Dutch workforce.
  • It grants you free access to the Dutch labour market, by offering employers benefits like not having to apply for a work permit for you and not having to adhere to the salary criterion.
    • Furthermore, the reduced salary criterion applies to you when you find a job as a highly skilled migrant. This may encourage an employer to hire you.
  • Within three years after completing your programme – bachelors, masters or PhD – you may apply for the orientation year (or ‘search year’).
  • Each orientation year permit expires after one year and cannot be extended.
    • However, you can apply for a second orientation year if you complete another study programme, doctoral programme or performed another scientific research after your previous orientation year. For example, you apply once after your bachelor and a second time after your master. 
  • The application costs €210. 


Application for the orientation year permit should happen directly at the Dutch Immigration and Naturalisation Service (IND). Are you:

Start the procedure at the IND before you receive your diploma – so as soon as you have completed all parts of your programme, including thesis, and the date of your graduation is known (you can check Osiris).

Please know:

  • You need your proof of graduation statement (this you can get online) for the application process.
    • All of your credits must have been registered in Osiris at the time you request the statement!
  • Within two weeks of receiving your diploma, you must send a copy of your diploma to the IND.

Please see the website of the IND for more information on applying for an orientation year.

Do you have concerns with regards to your search year ("zoekjaar") visa and the corona virus?

It is not possible to extend the search year as the conditions for this residence permit are entrenched in law, and changing them is an uncertain and lengthy process. However, because the government values the contribution of international students and highly skilled migrants greatly, they decided to extend the period for which graduates are eligible for a highly skilled migrant residence permit with a lower salary criterium.

In the attached flyer you can find more information about the search year and other residence permit that can facilitate your stay in the Netherlands after graduation.

Target groups of the orientation year

  • Bachelor and master students graduated from a Dutch higher education institution.
  • PhD graduates from a Dutch university.
  • Anyone who has completed a postgraduate course (minimum duration 12 months) in the Netherlands.
  • Anyone who has completed scientific research (under the directive 2005/71/EC or labour as highly skilled migrant).
  • Anyone who has completed training in the framework of specific cultural development cooperation policy or an Erasmus Mundus Master Course.
  • Anyone who has completed a masters degree or postgraduate training or has been promoted to a foreign top 200 University.
  • Anyone who is a starting entrepreneur (start-up) with a residence permit as a self-employed person.

Career in Holland: Orientation Year Visa

Need help with the permit?

Check our Career Services

Frequently Asked Questions

All non-EU/EEA students who are in the possession of a Dutch student residence permit need to consider a number of additional rules and regulations when they want to work or do an internship in the Netherlands.

If you are no longer enrolled, we will notify the IND. The IND will give you 3 months after the graduation date or until the expiry date on your card, whichever comes first.

Examples of validity of permit after graduation:

  • If you were enrolled at EUR until 31 August 2021 then your residence permit will be valid until 30 November 2021.
  • If you graduated on the 31st Of May 2021, then your permit is valid until 31st of August 2021, even if your permit expiration date is 30 November 2021.
  • If you graduated in August and your permit is valid until the end of September, then your permit will expire in September since the expiration date of your card comes earlier.

If you want to stay in the Netherlands and work or do an internship, then make sure to apply for an orientation year.

For more information about the orientation year visa visit the FAQ from the IND.

Within 3 years after completing your studies, international students can apply for an orientation year during which you may work freely or do an internship or traineeship in the Netherlands without your employer having to apply for a work permit for hiring you. You do need to apply for the orientation year.

If you leave NL, your residence permit should be returned to the IND. There are 2 possible ways:

  1. You can hand in your residence permit card at the IND Front Office. Call 0880 430 430 to make an appointment. You will receive a proof of submission and a colour copy of your residence permit card;
  2. You can send your residence permit to the address below. Make sure that your residence permit is not valid anymore. This can be done by perforating or cutting your residence permit partially.  

Immigratie- en Naturalisatiedienst, Bureau Documenten
Postbus 7025, 8007 HA Zwolle
The Netherlands

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