What’s the orientation year about?

The Netherlands attaches great importance to giving highly skilled migrants the opportunity and time they need to find a job or start their own company in the Netherlands after completing their studies. The orientation year (zoekjaar) permit allows recent graduates from non-EU countries and scientific researchers to stay in or come to the Netherlands for a period of up to twelve months. During this one-year period, the graduate can work in any type of jobs. Before the end of the year, an application for work as a highly-skilled migrant should be submitted.

What’s the definition of ‘highly skilled migrant’?

The highly skilled migrant ruling came into effect in 2004 and means that highly skilled migrants enjoy a special status within Dutch law, which includes that they don’t require a work permit.

Non-EU citizens in the Netherlands are highly skilled migrants if they are employed by a recognised sponsor – a company participating in the highly skilled migrant scheme (kennismigrantregeling) by the Immigration and Naturalisation Service (IND). They must also meet the salary requirement. In 2016, the minimum is a gross monthly income of €4,240 (€3,108 for under-30s).

However, this salary requirement is lower for graduates with an orientation year permit. Orientation year permit holders can be employed as highly skilled migrants if they earn a minimum gross monthly income of €2,228. This remains valid for as long as the graduate works at the same company.

How can I find out which companies are recognised sponsors?

Recognised sponsors are listed here (select ‘Public Register Regular Labour and Highly Skilled Migrants’).

I’ve found employment, but my employer doesn’t know how to get me a highly skilled migrant status.

At this link, employers can find more information about hiring highly skilled migrants.

Do you have any tips for my job search in the Netherlands? And are there any good job search portals?

English-language vacancies in the Amsterdam Metropolitan Area are listed here. Furthermore, within its Partnership Programme the Expatcenter works with a number of recruitment agencies that are specialised in helping internationals on the Dutch labour market.

Is there an English-language portal that provides all necessary information about finding employment in the Netherlands?

Yes: find all you need to know at Career in Holland.

How do I apply for the orientation year permit, how long does the application procedure take and how much does it cost to apply?

Download the application form here – the form is called ‘Application for the purpose of residence of looking for work and carrying out work whether or not as an employee (foreign national).’

The completed application form has to be sent to the IND by post. The address is Immigratie- en Naturalisatiedienst, Postbus 245, 7600 AE Almelo.

Once your application has been received, the IND will send you information about how to pay the fee of €614. The IND will process your application after the fee has been received. They aim to do so within two weeks. If the application is incomplete, the IND will contact you straightaway.

Once the application has been approved, the Expatcenter contacts the applicant to make an appointment to register the applicant’s biometric data, if required, and/or to deliver the residence permit. After the registration of the biometric data, the permit is ready within a few days.

Click here for more information about the application process.

How can the Expatcenter help?

The Expatcenter can help with the application process, in cooperation with the IND. Once ready, the permit can be collected at the Expatcenter, and the Expatcenter’s staff – working with ACCESS – are happy to answer any questions. In addition, the Expatcenter is pleased to offer all holders of the orientation year permit a membership for Amsterdam Salon and a free two-month trial of the We are Public culture pass.

Do I have to apply immediately after my graduation, or can I go home first and then come back to apply for the orientation year?

After your graduation, you have three years to apply for the orientation year permit, and you may leave the country in the interim.

Can I start up my own company during the orientation year? If yes, where can I find more information about this?

Yes, you may start up your own company during the orientation year. In cooperation with the Dutch Chamber of Commerce, the Expatcenter organises free information sessions about starting up a business in the Netherlands, or click here for general information about founding a company. Note that there is a special work and residence permit for startup founders.

For how long is the orientation year permit valid?

The permit is valid for one year. Within that year, you need to find employment as a highly skilled migrant or start up a business in order to stay in the Netherlands.

When should I apply for the orientation year permit? Should I wait for my final grades?

 You will need to send a copy of your diploma or a declaration from your university that states that you have fulfilled all requirements for earning your degree. Sending the application before fulfilling all requirements is therefore not recommended, but you can apply before your graduation ceremony has taken place, if you can supply the necessary declaration. Do note that you must submit your application before your student visa expires.

For how long after graduation is my student visa valid for?

Strictly speaking, your university/college has to report graduations within 28 days. Your residence permit is valid for three months after your graduation. After this date, you will need to leave the country unless you have submitted an application for an extension or another residence permit.

Which documents do I need for my orientation year application?

You need to submit either a copy of your diploma, or a declaration by your university that states you’ve fulfilled all requirements for graduating. The declaration is provided as part of the application form and needs to be signed and stamped. In addition, you need a valid passport.

Can I work during the orientation year? And can I apply for internships? Also, am I only allowed to work at companies that are recognised sponsors?

You may work anywhere, and in any role, as long as you don’t claim any benefits – that is not allowed as a holder of the orientation year permit. But you are free to join the labour market in any way you like.

How do I find an internship and what do I need to arrange?

Find more information about internships here and here.