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Orientation Year for Non-EU students

If you are a graduate from a country outside the EEA, you are allowed to spend one year in the Netherlands to find a job as a highly skilled migrant

The orientation year gives you free access to the Dutch labour market. Employers do not have to apply for a work permit for you and do not have to adhere to the salary criterion. This may increase your chances of being hired by an employer.


The orientation (search) year permit is meant to search for a job. You can also use it to follow an internship. It is not necessary to work while having this residence permit. If you are not able to find a job and will not work during your orientation year, it will have no consequences.

How to apply?

You have to apply for an orientation year permit. You apply for the orientation year permit yourself at the Immigration and Naturalisation Service (IND), either before the expiration date of your student residence permit or up to three years after graduating if you wish to travel abroad first. You need to apply for the orientation year in the Netherlands yourself. Go to the website of the IND to find all the information you need, as well as the actual application form Application for the purpose of residence looking for work and carrying out work whether or not as an employee.


You will need to hand in a copy of your UT bachelor's or master's diploma. You can have a certified copy made at the information desk of the Student Services Desk at UT. Make sure to bring your original diploma. If you have not yet received your diploma when you visit the IND, you need to submit an IND appendix called Statement on Completion of study. This is a declaration of graduation. The form has to be filled out by you and the Student Services of UT. You can find this form here.


If you are living abroad and your previous residence permit has expired, you will need to start the procedure for Entry and Residence. In this procedure you apply for a provisional residence permit, i.e. your entry visa, and a residence permit simultaneously. You can contact the Dutch embassy or consulate in your country of residence for more information. When you start working, you will need to take out basic Dutch healthcare insurance. Students with an Orange Knowledge Programme Scholarship are not eligible for an orientation year residence permit. If your current residence permit expires before you graduate, please contact the Student Services Desk.



Highly skilled migrants

The goal of the orientation year is to find a job as a ‘highly skilled migrant’. You get a maximum of 12 months to find the position that allows you to stay in the Netherlands. Of course, some students manage to find this job right after they finish their study programme. If this is the case, you can skip the whole orientation year and apply directly for the residence permit as a highly skilled migrant. To be considered a highly skilled migrant, your employment needs to meet certain requirements. Your employer has to be authorized to employ highly skilled migrants. You can find a list of these organisations on the IND website.


The salary requirements for highly skilled migrants who have recently obtained their diploma in the Netherlands are considerably lower than the amount for highly skilled migrants who did not graduate in the Netherlands. To inform yourself of the latest requirements with regard to the minimum gross annual salary required, check Inkomenseisen normbedragen | IND. When you find a job that allows you to stay as a highly skilled migrant, your company has to apply for your residence permit. You cannot do this yourself.


As a highly skilled migrant following this procedure, you cannot apply for the ‘30% tax ruling’. This rule allows employers to pay their foreign employees part of their wage tax-free, leading to a higher net wage. However, the discount only applies to workers who lived at least 150 kilometres away from the Dutch border in the 24 months before starting the job. 

Do you need more information about the requirements of finding a job as an international student? Have a look here.