International graduates of Dutch universities have the possibility to stay in The Netherlands after they have finished their studies. They are allowed to search for a job if they have the correct visas and are able to support themselves.
There are a number of options for non-EU/EEA/Swiss students that wish to stay and work in Holland post-graduation.
If you wish to continue living in The Netherlands once you’ve finished your studies, it is important to make sure you have the appropriate visa.
There are two main paths that recent graduate can follow in order to update their student visa and to be allowed to work without requiring a work permit.
These are as follows:
- Search year (zoekjaar): Towards the end of your Bachelor’s or Master’s study at Dutch higher educational institution accredited by NVAO, you can apply for a search year. This application, costing around €600, will allow you to stay in The Netherlands and search for a job for up to one year from the date of your graduation. During this time, any job you find will not require your employer to apply for a work permit.
The salary criteria for 2013 is €27,336 if you apply during this ‘orientation year’, regardless of age. This means that you must find a job that will pay you at least that amount in order to have your visa approved.
- Highly educated migrant (regeling hoogopgeleide): If you’ve graduated from a Dutch university with a Master’s degree programme registered in the CROHO (the Central Register of Higher Education Programmes) or PhD degree, you may be able to apply to stay and work in the country as a highly skilled migrant. However, this option will still require a work permit for Bulgarian, Romanian, and non-EU/EEA/Swiss citizens.
Other options are available as well.
- If you’re under 30 and you’ve already found a job and your job meets the salary requirements (€38,141 per year), you may apply for a highly skilled migrant visa (kennismigrant). (Note: Highly skilled migrants over 30 have a salary requirement of €52,010 per year.) This will also allow you to work without a work permit and grants the same rights for your spouse. If you’re completing either of the year-long visa programmes mentioned above, you may apply for this visa in order to prolong your stay. In this case, the salary requirements may be lowered to the same level (€27,336 per year). It is important to apply for this visa before your other visa expires and you must meet all other conditions.
- You may also stay to work in Holland if you are going to do research at a Dutch research institution. This scientific visa package is an EU directive (2005/71) and will allow the applicant to work in Holland without a work permit if they meet the conditions.The host organisation at which you will be conducting your research will apply for this residence permit for you.
If you not able to apply for any of the options mentioned above, you may still be able to stay in Holland if you can get a work permit. However, it is often very difficult for employers to obtain a work permit for applicants as they must prove that no other Dutch or EU national is capable of doing the job. It is your responsibility to ensure that your residence permit is still valid in this case, unless your employer is sponsoring you.
More information about visas and specific requirements can be found on Nuffic’s ‘Immigration procedures for foreign nationals seeking work in the Netherlands’ (.pdf) page.
Finding a job
There are many resources that you can use to find a job, including:
- doing online searches which can often result in finding a number of available posted positions.
- visiting employment agencies, such as Randstad and Undutchables.
- completed an internship or traineeship during your study. This may provide you with the opportunity to continue in a more permanent position.
- using your network and letting friends, colleagues, classmates, and others know that you are searching for work.
- attending career fairs which may also help you discover job opportunities, or can at least help you make contacts in companies you may be interested in working for in the future.
Another option is to start your own business. If you have a unique set of skills and the time and money to found a company and become self-employed, it can be a very good option as you will not be required to get a work permit.
However, this also means that you will not be entitled to any of the benefits that a contracted employee has, such as pension, social security, and more. The conditions of starting your own business vary, depending on your citizenship. More information can be found via the Dutch Chamber of Commerce, known as the Kamer van Koophandel.
The average starting wage for those working in Holland is about €27,000 per year. This varies based on field. The average working week consists of 40 hours, though flexible hours are an option at many Dutch companies.
Read also about tips which can be helpful on working with the Dutch.