The Netherlands offers a so-called “Orientation Year” permit (Zoekjaar hoogopgeleiden) that provides non-EU graduates from Dutch universities the possibility to look for work in the Netherlands or start their own business after their graduation without having to get an additional work permit.

What is the Orientation Year permit?

Permit Duration

The Orientation Year permit is granted for one year so as to allow a graduate to look for work or start a business. This permit cannot be extended.

Application period

Non-EU graduates from Dutch higher education institutions can apply for this permit within 3 years of graduating. This gives you time to go through application procedure and possibly travel back home before returning to the Netherlands.

No work permit required

During the Orientation Year you will not require a work permit (TWV), which means that you are allowed to take up any type of work in this time including a temporary position, a part-time job, or a paid or unpaid internship.

No proof of sufficient means

If you are granted the Orientation Year permit you will not be asked to provide proof of sufficient funds to support yourself during this period of time (this amount is set by the IND). However, should you wish to avail your right for family reunification during this time you will have to provide proof of sufficient financial means to support your family members as set by the IND. During your Orientation Year you will not be entitled to social security and social services provided in the Netherlands.

Possibility to apply for multiple permits

Should you obtain another degree after completing the Orientation Year you may become eligible to apply for another Orientation Year permit. 

Who qualifies for the Orientation Year?

The permit is intended for:

  • Bachelor and master’s students who graduated from a Dutch higher education institution.
  • PhD graduates of a Dutch university
  • Anyone who has completed a postgraduate course (minimum duration: 12 months) in the Netherlands
  • Anyone who has completed scientific research (under EU Directive 2005/71/EC or labour as a highly skilled migrant)
  • Anyone who has completed training as part of a specific cultural policy development cooperation policy or an Erasmus Mundus Master’s Course

How do I apply?

  • If you wish to apply while you are still residing in the Netherlands you can submit your application directly to the IND. For more detailed information and to download the application form, go to The permit is available from the IND and expat centres.
  • If you wish to apply while residing outside the Netherlands you will require an entry visa and must submit the application to a Dutch embassy.
  • If you wish to apply while residing abroad and you are not subject to the entry visa requirement you can also submit the application directly to the IND.

Found a job? Change your permit

When your Orientation Year permit is set to expire and you have found a job, the permit must be converted into another type of permit, such as that issued under the Highly Skilled Migrant Scheme. If your permit is converted to this type of permit, the employer, as a sponsor recognised by IND, must apply for the permit.

Reduced salary criterion

When you convert your permit into a permit under the Highly Skilled Migrant Scheme, a reduced salary criterion applies (€2,228 instead of €3,108 or €4,240 per month). For more details on the salary criterion for Highly Skilled Migrants, please check For more information regarding the new Orientation Year, see or contact the Mobstacles team ( /

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