The Netherlands Orientation Year for Highly Educated Persons

The Netherlands orientation year for highly educated persons is a special residence permit. It allows recent graduates, doctoral degree holders, and researchers to stay in the country for one year to explore job opportunities and get settled after completing their studies or research work.

This orientation year residence permit is designed for highly skilled individuals who have recently completed an accredited degree program, post-master’s course, doctoral research, or participated in certain research projects in the Netherlands or at designated top-ranked foreign universities. It gives them an opportunity to search for suitable employment or start their own business venture during the one-year validity period without immediately requiring a work permit or employer sponsorship.

The Netherlands orientation year is open to those who have obtained their credentials within the past three years before applying. It aims to attract and retain talented and qualified individuals with high potential to contribute to the Dutch workforce and economy.

Requirements for the Netherlands orientation year

To be eligible for the orientation year residence permit, you must meet some general requirements that apply to everyone, as well as specific educational/research qualifications achieved within the past 3 years.

General Requirements:

  • You must satisfy the standard requirements for any residence permit in the Netherlands.

Educational/Research Qualifications (within the past 3 years):

  • You carried out research in the Netherlands and had a residence permit for research purposes or as a highly skilled migrant.
  • You obtained a master’s degree through an Erasmus Mundus Masters Course.
  • You completed an accredited bachelor’s, master’s, or post-master’s program of at least one academic year at a Dutch higher education institution.
  • You completed a study program in the Netherlands under the Cultural Policy Act or Dutch development cooperation policy.
  • You obtained a master’s, doctoral, or post-master’s degree from a designated foreign educational institution ranked in the top 200 of major global rankings, such as Times Higher Education, QS, or Academic Ranking of World Universities. Additionally, you must meet English proficiency requirements or have studied in English/Dutch.

Not Having Previously Used an Orientation Year:

  • You cannot have previously held a residence permit for an orientation year after the specific program/research you recently completed.

Requirements for Second/Subsequent Orientation Years:

  • If you have completed different programs or research projects, you may be eligible for another orientation year after each new completion, provided it occurred after your previous orientation year ended.
  • The new research must have been conducted while having a residence permit for research purposes or as a highly skilled migrant.

All foreign diplomas/degrees need to be evaluated and approved by Nuffic, except those from accredited Flemish programs in Belgium.

Application Process

The application process for the orientation year residence permit involves several steps:

  1. Check Requirements: Ensure you meet all the general and specific requirements mentioned earlier.
  2. Collect Documents: Gather all the required official documents, such as diplomas, certificates, proof of English proficiency, etc. Have any foreign documents legalized and translated into Dutch, English, French, or German.
  3. Apply: You must apply for both the provisional residence permit (MVV) and the orientation year residence permit simultaneously at the Dutch embassy or consulate in your country of origin/permanent residence.
  • Make an appointment at the Dutch representation.
  • At the appointment, submit the completed application form, photos, passport, and any additional documents requested.
  • Your biometric data (fingerprints and signature) will be collected.
  • You’ll receive a confirmation with your personal ‘V-number’.
  1. Pay Fees: The application costs €228. Pay this fee within 3 weeks of the appointment date noted on your application form.
  2. Wait for Decision: The IND (Immigration and Naturalization Service) must decide within 90 days, though this can be extended if more information is needed.
  3. Receive Decision: You’ll get a message with the IND’s decision – positive (you’ll receive the MVV and residence permit) or negative (ability to object).
  4. Collect MVV and Travel: If approved, make an appointment to collect your MVV sticker from the Dutch representation within 3 months. This MVV is valid for 90 days to travel to the Netherlands.
  5. Collect Residence Permit: After arriving, you’ll be notified when your residence permit card is ready for pickup at an IND desk.

The specific application form is the “Application for residence permit with purpose of orientation year for highly educated persons” which can be completed online if you already live in the Netherlands with a valid residence permit for your previous studies/research.

After Obtaining the Residence Permit

TB Test Requirement
If you indicated needing a tuberculosis (TB) test during your application, you must make an appointment at the municipal public health service (GGD) within 3 months of receiving your residence permit. Bring the “Appendix TB test referral form” with you.

Work Privileges
One of the key benefits of this permit is that you are free to work in the Netherlands without needing a separate work permit from your employer. Your residence permit will state “Free to work, work permit not required” on the back. This applies to working for an employer or as a self-employed entrepreneur without employees.

You can even start working during the application process itself if you submitted a copy of your Dutch diploma/certificate, had your foreign credential evaluated by Nuffic, or conducted recent scientific research. However, you’ll need a Residence Endorsement sticker first.

Legal Obligations
You have an obligation to provide information to the IND about any changes to your situation. Failing to notify them can result in administrative fines, so it’s important to update them promptly.

Validity Period
The orientation year residence permit is valid for 1 year from the date of issuance.

Options After the Netherlands Orientation Year

The orientation year permit cannot be extended. However, if you find a job opportunity you wish to pursue longer-term, you can apply for a different type of residence permit such as:

If your permit is lost, damaged or you need to change personal details, you can apply to have it replaced.

So in summary, take advantage of this year to gain work experience, make professional connections, and position yourself to transition into another long-term residence permit pathway suited to your next steps in the Netherlands.

The orientation year residence permit presents an invaluable opportunity for highly educated international students, researchers, and professionals to explore their career prospects in the Netherlands. By providing a dedicated one-year period to search for suitable employment or start a business without immediately requiring employer sponsorship, this permit offers flexibility and time to transition into the Dutch job market.

Eligibility spans those with recent bachelor’s, master’s, doctoral degrees or participation in research projects from Dutch institutions as well as top-ranked global universities. The application process requires submitting academic credentials, paying fees, and allowing for processing time.

Once obtained, the orientation year permit grants full freedom to work for an employer or as a self-employed entrepreneur, even allowing some work privileges during the application phase itself. However, it also comes with legal obligations to keep the immigration authorities informed of any changes.

Perhaps most importantly, this year allows permit holders to get a foothold in the Netherlands, evaluate long-term prospects, and prepare for the next steps by applying for more permanent economic residence permits like the Highly Skilled Migrant program. It serves as a vital gateway for international talent to launch their careers in the Dutch workforce.

Overall, the orientation year is a valuable initiative by the Dutch government to attract and retain skilled labor from abroad. For international students and knowledge workers, it provides a window of opportunity and workplace experience that can open doors to further living and working in the Netherlands long-term.

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