The Dutch orientation year – What to do after you graduate as a foreign student in the Netherlands:

On June 26, 2017 by Dutch Umbrella Company

There are more things you should be aware about when you graduate, but the Dutch orientation year permit is definitely one thing you should know about! You just finished studying and the wide world of potential new jobs is waiting for you.

But do you already know what you want to do after all the hard learning of the past few years? The Dutch government finds it important that highly educated people get the time to find a job as a knowledge migrant or to start their own business in the Netherlands after their studies. Therefore, the government ‘The Dutch Orientation Year’ also known as “Zoekjaar”.

Dutch orientation year

If you are just graduated or promoted in the Netherlands or at a well-recognized foreign university you may apply for a residence permit as an orientation year. As a student you can apply for this residence permit within three years of completing your last study. The residence permit enables you to seek work in the Netherlands after your graduation, and it is granted for a maximum period of one year, each time that you finalize an education.

The benefits of a Dutch orientation year permit

The permit allows you to spend a year in the Netherlands looking for work, without the need of having an additional work permit. It will grant you free access to the Dutch labor market and with the residence permit, you have the time to find a job as a knowledge migrant. Foreigners may only work in the Netherlands if they have a residence permit. During the orientation year graduates and researchers with this residence permit may work freely in the Netherlands. An advantage for companies to accept you as a graduate in your orientation year is that the initial salary standard will be lower, making it attractive for companies to hire you.

Found work?

The residence permit for the orientation year expires after one year. The permit expires if you have no other permit at the end of that year. If you found a job within one year, you must change your residence permit. Be sure that if you found a job, your employer is recognised by the IND. In order to be recognised as a highly skilled migrant you will have to comply certain salary criteria. Dutch Umbrella Company is recognised by the IND as a sponsor.

What about your contract during the Dutch orientation year?

Your contract is subject to a special regulation if you find a job during your orientation year. To explain it clearly, we use the following example.

Suppose your orientation year permit started on January 1, 2017. Your permit will be valid until the end of the year, until 31 December, 2017. On October 1, 2017 you find a job and your employer offers you a 12-month contract. This contract will run until September 30, 2018. Your employer pays a reduced standard, called the ‘knowledge migrant following orientation year salary requirement’, for the entire contract period. If your contract ends, the normal knowledge migrant salary standard will apply. However, if you receive a 24-month contract on October 1, 2017, the ‘knowledge migrant following orientation year salary requirement’ will apply for the entire 24 months.

Any questions?

If you’re about to graduate or start working in the Netherlands and have any questions about staying in the country, work permits, wages and contracts, the Dutch Umbrella Company will be very happy to help you. For advice, please don’t hesitate to contact us at