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More graduates to receive residence permits in the Netherlands

Question and Answers 23 February 2016, 07:12

Through the Orientation Year residence permit, graduates from Dutch universities are able to remain in the Netherlands for an additional year after completing their study to find a job in their field of expertise. Starting in 2016, new rules will apply to this residence permit, helping graduates of Dutch and international universities start their career in the Netherlands.

Graduates of Master's programmes at VU University AmsterdamThrough the Orientation Year residence permit, graduates from Dutch universities are able to remain in the Netherlands for an additional year after completing their study to find a job in their field of expertise. Starting in 2016, new rules will apply to this residence permit, helping graduates of Dutch and international universities start their career in the Netherlands.

The Orientation Year visa is intended for non-EU citizens. Citizens of EU countries can live and work in the Netherlands without restrictions.

Before the changes

2 options for obtaining the Orientation Year permit are available before the changes come into effect.

1. The Orientation Year permit for graduates of Dutch universities (zoekjaar afgestudeerden) allows them to work in the Netherlands without needing a work permit. Graduates are able to apply for this visa within one year of completing their studies.

2. The Orientation Year permit for highly educated persons (zoekjaar hoogopgeleiden) is available for Master’s and PhD programme graduates from Dutch and international universities. This permit allows them to work in the Netherlands, but an additional work permit is required. Graduates are able to apply for this visa within 3 years of completing their studies.

Additional requirements apply to the 2nd visa option. If coming from an international university, the institutions must be ranked in the top 200 of one of the world university rankings: QS, THE, or ARWU. Candidates need good command of English or Dutch, must possess work experience in the Netherlands, and be 30 years of age or younger.

Both options for the Orientation Year permit are granted for 1 year and cannot be extended.

After the changes

As of 2016 (specific date to be determined), the two options for the Orientation Year permit will be merged into one. Most of the requirements for highly educated persons will be discarded. All candidates will have 3 years after graduation to apply for the permit and won’t have to arrange for an additional work permit to be able to work in the Netherlands.

The following groups of highly educated people will be eligible to apply for the permit:

current groups
graduates of Dutch universities;

Master’s and PhD programme graduates from Dutch and international universities;

new groups
scientists who conducted research in the Netherlands;

graduates of Master’s programmes from the Erasmus Mundus Course;

graduates of cultural studies within the frames of the Cultural Policy Act;

graduates educated through the Dutch Foreign Affairs development aid program.

The requirement that international universities be ranked in the top 200 of one of the world university rankings will still be in effect. This will help ensure that candidates have a sufficient English or Dutch proficiency level.

The Orientation Year permit will still be granted for one year, without the possibility of extension. However, candidates that are obtaining another degree or are conducting scientific research in the Netherlands will be able to apply for the permit again.

The date when the changes will come into effect has not yet been announced.

After the Orientation Year

Those wishing to stay in the Netherlands after the Orientation Year permit expires will need to apply for another permit. Options include staying as a highly skilled migrant, partner or spouse of a registered person, or a self-employed entrepreneur.

The highly skilled migrant permit is the most popular option. To apply for the permit, candidates need to find a job with a monthly salary of at least € 2,228 or must be conducting scientific research. The employer must be registered with the Immigration and Naturalisation Service (IND) as a «recognised sponsor» in order for the candidate to be admitted to the highly skilled migrant plan. This permit is granted for 5 years which is the amount of time required for residents to live in the Netherlands before applying for the permanent residence permit.

Dutch university → Orientation Year → Highly skilled migrant → Permanent residence permit in the Netherlands

Any subsequent visa applications must be completed before the Orientation Year permit expires in order to maintain legal resident status in the Netherlands. Short-stay visas may be arranged for candidates that need an additional 90 days after expiry to sort out administrative issues.

The updated Orientation Year permit will expand the opportunities for graduates of Dutch and international universities, providing them with 3 years after graduation to decide in which country they wish to live and work. The visa will allow more grads to begin their careers in the Netherlands.

See also:

Working in the Netherlands after graduation
Applying for a start-up visa in the Netherlands

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