The Orientation Year (zoekjaar) work and residence permit allows graduates from non-EU countries to remain in the Netherlands for one year after graduating, with free access to the Dutch employment market. Those eligible are scientific researchers, recent bachelor’s and master’s graduates who have graduated in the Netherlands, and master’s graduates from an internationally recognised top 200 university abroad.

The deadline to apply is no later than three years after your graduation. You must be able to support yourself financially whilst you are here, but you do not need a work permit during the search year.

Once employment is found, the permit can be converted into a residence permit for highly skilled migrants (with a lower than usual salary requirement). International graduates can apply for the permit within three years after their graduation. The application form and all required documents have to be submitted to the Immigration and Naturalisation Service (Immigratie- en Naturalisatiedienst - IND). The IND has an FAQ document about the ‘orientation year for highly educated persons’. 

The Corona crisis has brought certain changes in the Orientation Year regulations. The documents Important message regarding staying in the Netherlands after graduation and Coronavirus - Staying after your studies provide a detailed overview of your Search Year permit for 2020.