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Orientation year permits for graduates and researchers

Recent graduates and scientific researchers from non-EU countries can search for work in the Netherlands for up to a year with an ‘orientation year’ permit.

Orientation year permit

The orientation year (zoekjaar) permit allows recent bachelor’s and master’s graduates and scientific researchers from non-EU countries to stay in the Netherlands for a period of up to 12 months. During this period, they can seek employment or work without needing an extra work permit. This means they have free access to the Dutch labour market, as employers do not need to apply for a work permit for them. The orientation year permit is a measure aiming at retaining and attracting foreign talent for the Dutch labour market. Refer to our infographic for a visual step-by-step illustration of the Orientation year permit.

Eligibility for the orientation year permit

International graduates can apply for this permit within three years after their graduation. In the case of international graduates from Dutch universities, this allows them to first return to their home country for a period of time and then come back to the Netherlands to look for employment.

Graduates must have completed a master’s or post-doctoral programme or have obtained a doctorate in the Netherlands or at an internationally recognised Top 200 university (a designated international educational institution listed in the top 200 of one of the available general ranking lists or in the top 200 of one of the ranking lists by faculty or by subject field).

Find out if your university is recognised in the top 200 rankings lists:

How to apply

If you are already residing legally in the Netherlands, you can apply for the residence permit for the orientation year on the IND website.

If you have completed your education abroad, or are still residing there, and intend to apply for the orientation year permit, you may require a provisional residence permit (known as 'machtiging tot voorlopig verblijf,' or MVV). Use the interactive Coming to the Netherlands tool to determine if you need a provisional residence permit.

If you require a provisional residence permit, you should start the process with the Dutch embassy or consulate in your country of residence. During this procedure, you will apply for both a provisional residence permit and a residence permit concurrently.

Read more about the conditions and how to apply on the IND website.

Collect your permit

After a successful application, you can collect the permit at the IND desk or at IN Amsterdam (without any service fees).

When you find work

Once a graduate or researcher has found employment with the help of the orientation year permit, the permit can be converted into a residence permit for highly skilled migrants. The salary requirement for this conversion is lower than that of other applicants – this reduced salary threshold is applicable for three years from the graduation date. Find out more about permits for highly skilled migrants.