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Residence permit for orientation year

This information is provided by:Immigration and Naturalisation Service, INDImmigration and Naturalisation Service, IND

Highly educated persons can apply for a residence permit for orientation year. As a holder of this residence permit, you are allowed to work in the Netherlands without any restrictions for 1 year. Find out who can apply for this residence permit and how to apply.

A residence permit for highly educated persons

The Dutch government considers it important that highly educated persons have time to launch their careers or start a business in the Netherlands. Dutch employers also benefit because recently graduated talent stays in the Netherlands or is attracted to move here. This is why the residence permit for orientation year was created.

Sometimes referred to as the ‘orientation year for highly educated persons’ or ‘orientation year’, this is a 1-year residence permit for recently graduated students, PhD graduates, and researchers. The permit offers the holder time to search for a job as a highly skilled employee or to develop a business idea. During the year, employers do not need to apply for a separate work permit (tewerkstellingsvergunning, TWV) for the employee.

Apply for the ‘orientation year’ within 3 years

You can apply for the ‘orientation year’ within 3 years of completing your studies, obtaining your PhD, or finishing your research. The permit is often used by students and researchers who were based in the Netherlands for their study or research programme. Students from other international educational institutions can also apply if they meet the conditions mentioned below.

Application conditions

To make use of the residence permit for orientation year, you must meet the following conditions:

  • you have a valid passport or another travel document;
  • you are not a risk to public order or national security;
  • you are willing to undergo a tuberculosis test upon arrival in the Netherlands. Certain nationalities are exempt from this obligation;
  • you have not previously had a residence permit to look for work after study, doctoral programme, or scientific research on the basis of completing the same study or doctoral programme or performing the same scientific research.

Study or research conditions

In the past 3 years, you have:

  • completed an accredited bachelor's or master's programme in the Netherlands; or
  • completed a postgraduate study of at least 12 months in the Netherlands; or
  • completed a study in the Netherlands in the context of the Cultural Policy Act; or
  • completed a study in the Netherlands that is provided in relation to the development cooperation policy of the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs; or
  • obtained a master's degree in the context of an Erasmus Mundus Masters Course; or
  • completed a higher education programme designated by Ministerial Decree; or
  • completed scientific research at any time. For this, you have had a residence permit in the Netherlands for the purpose of scientific research within the meaning of Directive (EU) 2016/801, or as a highly skilled migrant to undertake scientific research; or
  • completed a Master’s degree programme, a doctoral programme, or a post-Master's programme of at least 12 months at a designated international educational institution abroad (see details below), and you have:
    • achieved a minimum score of 6.0 for the International English Language Testing System; or
    • achieved a comparable minimum score in an English language test in accordance with the Code of Conduct for international students in Dutch higher education; or
    • acquired a diploma, certificate, or another document as mentioned in Article 2.3, (1) of the Civic Integration Decree (only in Dutch); or
    • completed a Master’s degree programme, a doctoral programme, or a post-Master’s programme in the English language or in Dutch.

What is a designated international educational institution?

A designated international educational institution is one listed in the top 200 of at least 2 of the main general rankings, or available rankings per faculty, or academic subject. The educational institution must have been in the top 200 of these rankings on the date that you completed the study programme or doctoral programme. The rankings that include your educational institution must come from at least 2 different publishers. Rankings published by the same publisher count as one.

How to apply for the residence permit

You apply for the residence permit for orientation year at the Immigration and Naturalisation Service (IND). If you have completed your education abroad, are still living there, and want to apply for the ‘orientation year’, you may require a provisional residence permit (machtiging tot voorlopig verblijf, mvv). Use the interactive Coming to the Netherlands tool to find out if you need a provisional residence permit.

If you do need a provisional residence permit, you need to start the procedure with the Dutch embassy or consulate in your country of residence. In this procedure, you apply for a provisional residence permit and a residence permit simultaneously.

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

For more information on how to enter the Netherlands, please check the procedure.


The application fee must be paid when you submit your application. Please note that you pay for processing the application, not for the residence permit. The fee will therefore not be refunded if your application is refused.

The next steps

Validity of the residence permit

The ‘orientation year’ residence permit is issued for a maximum period of 1 year. It is not possible to extend the validity. If you want to extend your stay in the Netherlands after the ‘orientation year’ has ended, you have to apply for another type of residence permit.

Changing the residence permit

If you find a job as a highly skilled migrant during the ‘orientation year’, the potential employer must apply for a residence permit for you as a highly skilled migrant. Changing from a residence permit for an orientation year to a residence permit as a highly skilled migrant means a lower income requirement applies. This lower amount also applies if you switch to a highly skilled migrant residence permit directly within 3 years after having graduated in the Netherlands.

If you do not find a job as a highly skilled migrant, but a different job, then the new employer must apply for a single permit for residence and employment.

If you start your own business, you must apply to change your residence permit to employment as a self-employed person or startup.

Entry ban

If you stay in the Netherlands illegally after your residence permit expires, you risk being issued an entry ban for the Schengen area.

Do you have more questions about the ‘orientation year’?

Take a look at the frequently asked questions on the IND website.

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