Orientation year permit

The orientation year (zoekjaar) permit allows recent bachelor’s and master’s graduates and scientific researchers from non-EU countries to stay in the Netherlands for a period of up to 12 months. During this period, they can seek employment or work without needing an extra work permit. This means they have free access to the Dutch labour market, as employers do not need to apply for a work permit for them. The orientation year permit is a measure aiming at retaining and attracting foreign talent for the Dutch labour market. 

Eligibility for the orientation year permit

International graduates can apply for this permit within three years after their graduation. In the case of international graduates from Dutch universities, this allows them to first return to their home country for a period of time and then come back to the Netherlands to look for employment. Graduates must have completed a master’s or post-doctoral programme or have obtained a doctorate in the Netherlands or at an internationally recognised Top 200 university (a designated international educational institution listed in the top 200 of one of the available general ranking lists or in the top 200 of one of the ranking lists by faculty or by subject field).

Find out if your university is recognised in the top 200 rankings lists:

When you find work

Once a graduate or researcher has found employment with the help of the orientation year permit, the permit can be converted into a residence permit for highly skilled migrants. The salary requirement for this conversion is lower than that of other applicants – this reduced salary threshold is applicable for three years from the graduation date. Find out more about permits for highly skilled migrants.

How to apply

Graduates can apply for the orientation year permit within three years of graduating. The application form and all required documents must be submitted to the IND; after a successful application, collect the permit from the IND or from IN Amsterdam. Read more about the conditions and how to apply.