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Orientation year

Highly educated foreign citizens who have graduated abroad or in the Netherlands may be able to obtain a verblijfsvergunning zoekjaar hoogopgeleiden (Orientation Year residence permit for highly educated persons) with a maximum term of 1 year in order to find a job as a highly skilled migrant or to start an innovative company. This scheme aims to ensure that exceptional international talent is more easily admitted to the Netherlands.


Eligible applicants can apply for this residence permit within 3 years of completing a study or research project. The Immigratie- en Naturalisatiedienst – IND website sets out the criteria for eligibility for this permit.

It is not possible to extend the length of this 12 month residence permit, however it is possible to apply for another Orientation Year residence permit after another period of eligible study is completed.

During the 12 month period, Orientation Year permit holders are granted free access to the Dutch labour market without any restrictions (no work permit required). They are allowed to accept any (temporary) job, including internships (paid or unpaid), to work as a freelancer or to start their own company.

The criteria for the Orientation Year permit differ to those for the highly skilled migrant permit (e.g. salary expectations) making this type of residence permit more accessible to highly educated foreign citizens.