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After graduation

Orientation year for graduates

There is a scheme for non-EEA students who want to remain in the Netherlands to find employment here immediately after their study programme at a higher education institute. This admission scheme is called the orientation year for graduates and is described in the IND brochure Staying in the Netherlands.

During the orientation year you are issued with a special residence permit. As a graduate foreign student you have, after graduation, one year to find a job as a highly skilled migrant. In this case, a highly skilled migrant is someone who takes up employment with an employer who is registered with the IND as being authorised to bring highly skilled migrants to the Netherlands. The migrant must earn a gross salary of at least € 26,931 per year. This amount is index-linked on an annual basis.

Target group for Orientation year for graduates
You are eligible for an orientation year if you have studied in the Netherlands as a foreign student (at a University of Applied Sciences or University), based on a residence permit for study purposes. And you must have a bachelor’s or master’s degree from such a Dutch institution.

Exception: Bulgarian and Romanian nationals
An exception applies to Bulgarian and Romanian students. See below.

Please note
A permit with the purpose of 'residence during orientation year highly-educated persons' is issued for a maximum of one year and must be applied for by you yourself as the graduate student. Fees apply. If you take advantage of the orientation year highly-educated persons, you are not eligible for the highly skilled migrant scheme.

During the orientation year
A residence permit for the purpose of the orientation year grants you free access to the labour market for one year only. You can carry out an additional work placement or any kind of job for any Dutch employer without the need to apply for a work permit. Minimum wage requirements apply!

During this year you are not entitled to receive governmental social benefits. If you make a claim on public funds, your residence permit can be revoked during the orientation year, just like during your study period.

Orientation year for graduates (for Bulgarian and Romanian nationals)

For Bulgarian and Romanian nationals, to qualify for an orientation year for graduates, you must have successfully completed a study programme at a higher education institute in the Netherlands and have held a residence permit for study purposes.

Most Bulgarian and Romanian students do not meet this second requirement. This is a difficult situation, as Bulgarian and Romanian nationals do not yet have free access to the Dutch labour market, whilst holders of a residence permit under the restriction of 'residence during orientation year for graduates’ do indeed have free access to the labour market in the Netherlands. Employers do not need to apply for a work permit for Bulgarian and Romanian nationals who qualify for this orientation year.

Read more about the orientation year highly-educated persons for Bulgarian and Romanian nationals. (sorry, only available in Dutch)

Lawful residence
For a number of years, Bulgarian and Romanian students have also been permitted to submit an application for an orientation year for graduates to the IND desk in their region. In this case, you must be able to demonstrate that you were lawfully residing in the Netherlands as a student.

If a review for compliance with European Community law has been carried out, you can demonstrate lawful residence using your residence permit. If a review for compliance with European Community law has not been carried out, you must submit the following documents:

- proof of enrolment at a higher education institute
- proof of adequate insurance against medical expenses
- and submit a declaration that you have sufficient financial means to support yourself.

You are advised to contact the IND before submitting your application for an orientation year for graduates.

Last updated on 10 July 2014.
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