Knowledge and talent is welcome in the Netherlands to strengthen our competitive position and knowledge-based economy. Therefore, the Dutch government has introduced the orientation year residence permit  (also known as Search Year, Zoekjaar or Orientation year highly educated persons).


  • a residence permit for one year
  • free access to the Dutch labour market during the period on this permit. The holder can be employed, do voluntary work, internships, set up a start-up and/or be active in self-employment, all without a work permit being required.
  • a partner/spouse also has free access to the Dutch labour market.
  • more favourable terms to be eligible for the highly skilled migrant residence permit, which makes you more interesting for a possible employer. Generally, an employer needs to pay someone over three or four thousand euro a month, in order to make use of the highly skilled migrant residence permit. But you already qualify for a wage of just under two and a half thousand euro monthly. Make sure you apply for the residence permit for highly skilled migrants in time, meaning before your orientation year finishes, as this offer only stands during your orientation year.

You are eligible for an orientation year residence permit if in the past three years one of the following applies to you:

  • You completed at least one of the following study programmes in the Netherlands; Bachelor, Master or Postdoctoral programme of minimally 10 months; or
  • You completed a programme in  Erasmus Mundus Masters Course; or
  • You have done scientific research in the Netherlands, including PhD. You have had a residence permit for the purpose of scientific research within the meaning of EU Directive 2005/71/EC in the Netherlands or have had a residence permit as a highly skilled migrant to undertake scientific research in the Netherlands; or 
  • You completed a Master's or postdoctoral programme or obtained a PhD at a designated international educational institution abroad* and you meet the stipulated language requirements. *A designated international educational institutions is listed in the top 200 of one of the general ranking lists or in the top 200 of one of the available ranking lists by subject field - that correspond with your field of study or research field- of the:

Times Higher Education World University Rankings

QS World University Rankings

Academic Ranking of World Universities

Application conditions

  • You need to be eligible (see above)
  • You can apply up to three years after your graduation or finishing research
  • You must pay the application fee of € 285
  • You do not need to show financial proof of income

Other conditions may apply for Turkish nationals and their family members.

Application procedure
If you are in the Netherlands, you can submit the application with the IND. For more detailed information and the application form, go to 
pathfinder Career or go to the IND’s website. You can collect the permit from the IND or an Expat center. If the applicant is living abroad, and needs an entry visa, the application can be submitted at the Dutch embassy or consulate.

If you have any questions, please read the FAQs, developed in cooperation with the IND and published on their website.

More information