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Students and graduates from outside of the EU

Students who have graduated in the Netherlands have several possibilities for extending their stay.

Since 2016, all holders of the search year permit are allowed to work without a work permit during the search year, also the holder of the permit that have graduated abroad. The validity of student visas expires shortly following graduation. In order to extend ones residence and avoid a gap in the residence period the process needs to be embarked upon in a timely fashion.

Students, following their studies qualify for an extension on their stay, under the basis of a ‘search’ year (zoekjaar). This is an excellent opportunity for students to remain in the Netherlands and acquaint themselves further with the country. During this ‘search’ year it is possible for students to work, without an employer having to be in possession of a work permit. Such a residence permit is granted for a maximum of one year. The income threshold for this category to qualify for a highly skilled migrant residence permit is € 2,497 gross per month (exclusive 8% holiday allowance), which is gross per annum € 29,964 (excluding 8% holiday allowance) gross per year, regardless of age. The permit can be requested immediately after graduation, of within three years after graduation. 

Also foreigners that have worked as a scientific researcher in The Netherlands are eligbible for the search year permit.

There are also other possibilities for extending a students’ residence, either through employment, as an entrepreneur, or due to family reunification.
 
Search year for graduates of higher education
Foreign students can also apply for a residence permit if they are graduates of higher education. This option is principally available to students who have completed a Masters level programme at a Dutch University. Furthermore, foreign students who have completed a Masters programme overseas can qualify for this ruling. In this case they have to have graduated from one of the Universities ranked in the top 200 list of the most recent rankings of the Times Higher Education World University Rankings, the QS World University Rankings or the Shanghai Jiao Tong Ranking. The university needs to be in the top 200 list in the year of graduation.

During the validity period of the permit, holders of this permit can look for employment as a highly skilled migrant, or set up a business independently. In order to qualify for the highly skilled migrant residence permit, the gross monthly salary threshold is € 2,497 (exclusive 8% holiday allowance), which is gross annually € 29,964 (excluding 8% holiday allowance).

Such residence permits are granted for a maximum of one year and are not extendable. All holders of the search year permit are allowed to work without a work permit during the search year.

Foreigners can apply for such a residence permit up to three years after the date stated on their degree.

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