Orientation year

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 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. International graduates can apply for the special work and residence 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. 

Strengthening the Dutch labour market

The Orientation Year permit is a measure aiming at retaining and attracting foreign talent for the Dutch labour market. Graduates have to 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 of the Times Higher Education World University Rankings, the QS World University Rankings or the Academic Ranking of World universities).

Once a graduate 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 for other applicants – this reduced salary threshold is applicable for three years from the graduation date.


Graduates can apply for the Orientation Year permit within three years of graduating. The application form and all required documents have to be submitted to the IND; after a successful application, the permit can be collected from the IND or from the IN Amsterdam office. Read more about the conditions and how to apply.