Orientation Year Highly Educated Persons

Highly educated foreign nationals who have graduated abroad or in the Netherlands can obtain a residence permit with a maximum term of 1 year in the Netherlands in order to find a job as a highly skilled migrant or to start an innovative company. This scheme can ensure that foreign exceptional talents are more easily admitted to the Netherlands. 


This residence permit is intended for all highly educated foreign nationals who:

  • have not previously had a residence permit to look for work after having completed their study, doctoral programme or scientific research. If a person has completed various programmes of study, doctoral programmes or scientific researches, the orientation year can be granted after each of them. However, this programme of study, doctoral programme or scientific research must have been completed after the previous orientation year;
  • have in the past 3 years completed a university study, a doctoral programme or a scientific research;
  • have achieved a minimum score of 6.0 for the International English Language Testing System; or
  • have achieved a comparable minimum score in an English language test set out in the Code of Conduct for international students in Dutch higher education; or
  • possess a diploma, certificate or document as meant in Article 2.3, first paragraph of the Civic Integration Decree (only in Dutch); or
  • have completed a Master or postdoctoral programme in the English or Dutch language.


Which educational programmes qualify for this purpose of stay?


The highly skilled foreign nationals are eligible to apply for the "orientation year" after completing one of the following educational programmes:

  • An accredited Bachelor's or Master's programme in the Netherlands; or
  • A scientific research: Individual has 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
  • A postdoctoral programme of at least an academic year (a minimum of 10 months) in the Netherlands; or
  • A study in relation to the Cultural Policy Act; or
  • A study that is provided in relation to the development cooperation policy of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; or
  • A master's degree in the context of an Erasmus Mundus Masters Course; or
  • A higher education programme designated by Ministerial Decree; or
  • A Master's or postdoctoral programme or a PhD at a designated international institution abroad.
    A designated international educational institution is listed in the top 200 of one of the general rankings lists or in the top 200 of one of the available ranking lists by faculty or by subject field of the:



Validity residence permit 

The residence permit for the orientation year for highly educated persons is valid for a maximum of 1 year. It is not possible to extend the validity of this residence permit. 


To students completing several programmes of study, the orientation year can be granted after each programme of study or scientific research. You can therefore apply for another orientation year at a later date if this is done on the basis of another completed programme of study or scientific research. This programme of study or scientific research must have been completed after your previous orientation year.


If the foreign national found employment as a highly skilled migrant, the purpose of stay may be changed to stay as a highly skilled migrant. The minimum starting salary required for this group has been lowered to € 2.272 gross per month.



Work permit

During the orientation year, the foreign nationals 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 own company.


Their family members will also have free access to the Dutch labour market during the orientation year, without restrictions.






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