Orientation year highly educated persons

International students can apply for the orientation year (sometimes also called ‘search year’) within 3 years after completing their studies. During the orientation year you may work freely or do an internship or traineeship in the Netherlands while your employer does not have to apply for a work permit for hiring you.  

The costs for this procedure are € 633. 

The orientation year permit is issued for one year and cannot be extended. However, it is possible to apply for the orientation year upon completion of each type of study programme or research. This means, for example, that you can apply for the orientation year after completing your Bachelor's, and another time after obtaining your Master's diploma. 

One of the benefits of the orientation year is that when changing it into a permit as a Highly Skilled Migrant, a reduced salary criterion applies. 

Target groups of the orientation year regulations

  1. Bachelor and master students graduated from a Dutch higher education institution;
  2. PhD graduates from a Dutch university;
  3. Anyone who has completed a postgraduate course (minimum duration 12 months) in the Netherlands;
  4. Anyone who has completed scientific research (under the directive 2005/71/EC or labour as highly skilled migrant);
  5. Anyone who has completed training in the framework of specific cultural policy development cooperation policy or an Erasmus Mundus Master Course;
  6. Anyone who has completed a Master’s degree or postgraduate training or is promoted to a foreign top 200 University;
  7. Anyone who is a starting entrepreneur (start-up) with a residence permit as a self-employed person who is not advancing in the self-employed scheme but who meets the orientation year conditions.

Application process orientation year 

You can apply for the orientation year permit directly at the Dutch Immigration and Naturalisation Service (IND), you do not have to apply through the university.  

Applying directly after your studies

If you wish to apply for the orientation year directly after completing your studies (without leaving the Netherlands), we advise you to start the procedure for the search year permit at the IND as soon as you have completed all parts of your study programme (including your thesis) and the date of the graduation ceremony is known, so before you actually receive your diploma.  

You will need a proof of graduation statement from EUR for the application. You can obtain the proof of graduation statement online. Please note that all of your credits must have been registered in Osiris at the time you request the statement.

For submitting your application, you can contact the IND at 088-043 04 30 in order to make an appointment.

Please note that within two weeks after receiving your diploma you must send a copy of your diploma to the IND. 

Applying from abroad

If you are currently living abroad and your nationality requires that you apply for an entry visa for the Netherlands, you can submit your application at the Dutch embassy in your country

If you are living abroad and you do not need an entry visa for entering the Netherlands, you can apply directly at IND.

More information

Frequently Asked Questions

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fold faq

As a non-EU/EEA student, can I work in the Netherlands?

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.

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I have graduated, how soon do I need to leave the Netherlands?

If you are no longer enrolled, we will notify the IND. The IND will revoke your residence permit and you have to leave the Netherlands within 4 weeks after the deregistration date.
If you want to stay in the Netherlands and work or do an internship, then make sure to apply for an orientation year.

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After graduation international students can apply for an orientation year - what does it mean?

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.

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What to do with my Dutch residence permit when leaving NL?

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