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 The ‘job-seeking year’ for highly educated migrants 

Information on the immigration procedure for foreign nationals seeking employment in the Netherlands. 

If you have successfully finished your BA/MA studies in the Netherlands, or abroad, you can apply for a residence permit that will enable you to spend an orientation year on the Dutch employment market.

Highly educated migrants are very welcome in the Netherlands! The Dutch government aims at attracting talented international students to start their careers in the Netherlands after their graduation. For this reason, special immigration procedures have been introduced for foreign talents.1

Until recently, there were two procedures that were often confused by recent graduates, namely the orientation year for recent graduates seeking employment, and the orientation year for highly educated migrants seeking employment. These procedures have now been combined into one: the job-seeking year for highly educated migrants.

The new policy on the job-seeking year will take effect in the first months of 2016. Please visit our firm’s website regularly for updates. The Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) has ensured our company that as from 1 January 2016 the INS will state on the permit that you have free access to work in the Netherlands.

The residence permit is valid for one year, allowing you to stay in the Netherlands on a legal basis.

You will have free access to the Dutch employment market (‘Arbeid vrij toegestaan. TWV niet vereist’). This means that you can choose to work on payroll or do an internship, and that there is no income requirement for future employers. Employers do not have to be registered with the INS, and do not have to apply for work permits (TWV).

To make use of the new job-seeking year policy, you must meet the following criteria:

– You did not previously hold a Dutch residence permit to explore the Dutch employment market (except if based on different grounds and you have completed a second study successfully) *;

– You have a valid travel document;

– You do not present a risk to public order or national security;

– You have successfully finished your higher educational study program (BA/MA);

– You have applied for the permit within three years after graduating/completing the BA/MA program;

– You have a minimum level of Dutch or English;

– You did not make any false statements in previous procedures.

* For example: you have obtained a Master’s degree in the Netherlands, and have obtained a permit for an orientation year. After this year, you decide to take part in a PhD program. Once you receive your Doctor’s degree, you may apply for a job-seeking year permit, based on your PhD years.

You may qualify for a job-seeking year if you have taken part in one of the categories listed below:

– Accredited studies on Bachelor’s or Master’s level, PhD or postdoc programs, completed in the Netherlands;

– Accredited studies on Bachelor’s or Master’s level, PhD or postdoc programs, completed abroad, at a Top 200 University (Times Higher Education World University Rankings, QS World University Rankings or the Academic Ranking of World Universities (also called the Shanghai Jiao Tong ranking));

– Scientific research at a Dutch university;

– Master’s degree in the context of the Erasmus Mundus Masters Course or a degree in the context of the Dutch law on specific cultural policy or the policy on development assistance of the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs;

– Specific higher education studies.

After the orientation year, there are several options that may entitle you to a different type of residence permit: employment as a highly skilled migrant or independent entrepreneur, the relationship with your partner or other family ties, or another study program.

If you have any questions about your residence status, please do not hesitate to contact our firm. It’s easy to make a mistake and it can jeopardize your right to stay here. After all, your residence permit is vital to your future in the Netherlands. We will be happy to help you.

Eva Bezem (attorney-at-law)

Everaert Advocaten


Source: Everaert Advocaten


Established in 1982, Everaert Advocaten is recognized nationally and internationally as one of the leading firms in migration law in the Netherlands. Be it for a short term residence permit or permanent residence, we offer our client tailored migration solutions. We are also available for migration related legal procedure, such as acquiring Dutch nationality and international adoptions.

We are 13 lawyers (including partners, senior associates and junior associates) and 2 paralegals. Our lawyers are supported by secretarial and administrative colleagues. The main languages in the office and in our correspondence are Dutch and English, however we are also able to communicate with our clients in German, French, Russian,Spanish and Mandarin.

Any question, please contact the author of this article Ms. Eva Bezem, bezem@everaert.nl