Search year

If you want to stay in the Netherlands to find a job or start your own company, you can apply for a ‘search year permit’, also called a residence permit 'orientation year highly educated persons’ or ‘orientation year permit’. 

As an international graduate with a bachelor's, master's or PhD degree you are eligible to apply for this one-year permit within three years after graduation or finishing your research. During this year, you don’t need a work permit and are allowed to take out any job or to start your own company. This might be your steppingstone towards a job that qualifies you for a highly skilled migrant permit.  

Search year permits are issued for a maximum period of one year and cannot be extended. At the end of the year, you must either apply for a residence permit with another purpose or leave the country. 

Features of search year permit 

  • Eligible are foreigners who finished a bachelor or master, a PhD or research in the Netherlands. 
  • Applicable up to three years after finishing study, PhD or research. 
  • Can be applied from abroad (at an embassy or consulate). 
  • Free access to the Dutch labor market. Employers do not need a work permit. 
  • You can apply for a search year permit once for each graduation or research ground. E.g. if you have graduated twice in the Netherlands, you can apply for two orientation years. 
  • Eligible for family reunion, but in that case the applicable standard amount applies to prove that you have sufficient funds to maintain yourself. During the orientation year, the family member has free access to the Dutch labor market too. 

For more information and the specific requirements, go to: