Visas and working in the Netherlands

June 8, 2022 | 3 min read

One of the questions we frequently get asked by our international students, is ‘What are my options to stay in The Netherlands and to start my career here as a recent graduate?’ Below, you can find a short summary of the best options, but please consider that since visa rules and regulations are constantly changing, the IND (Dutch Immigration and Naturalization Service) is the best adviser and friend in these matters.


So, what options do you have?

Student visa

At TIAS School for Business and Society, you will, of course, receive a student visa for the duration of your studies. However, whilst you already finish your thesis by the end of August, your student visa will not expire until end of December of the same year – after your official graduation ceremony. This means you may conduct an internship during September to December, since you must still be registered as a student to do so. All you need is a contract signed by your school, the organization and yourself. After your official graduation, your student visa will expire and you can apply for something called the Search Year Visa which allows you to work in The Netherlands for an additional 12 months (see point 3). Based on this, you can also prolong your internship after December; see point 3. Last but not least, with your student visa, you are also legally permitted to work for 16 hours per week during your studies.

Work Visa (Highly Skilled Migrant)
Another option is to find a job from September, after you completed your thesis. The company has to sponsor you and apply for the work visa based on the High Skilled Migrant program we have here in The Netherlands. One condition for the employer to apply for this visa is that they are a referent of the IND. Check here if your future employer is on this list. Besides being a referent, your salary must be a certain amount and meet the criteria outlined for this program.

It is common in the Dutch labor market to receive a one-year contract with a one-year work visa. If you show good performance, the employer can extend the visa and give you a new contract. After three contracts (an internship contract does not count as an official contract in this case) or after working for two years in a row with the same employer, the organization has to offer you a fixed contract.

Only in rare cases will an employer give you a fixed contract right from the start with a work visa that is valid for five years. However, after five years of working and living in The Netherlands, you do not have to worry about a work visa anymore; you can apply for a permanent residence permit that allows you also to work in The Netherlands.

Another thing that is good to know is that your work visa is linked with the company you work for and your labor contract. If you want to switch jobs, your new employer will have to apply for a new work visa.

Search Year Visa: Once you have officially graduated from a Master or Bachelor degree program in The Netherlands, you can apply for the Search Year visa. This visa allows you to work in the Netherlands in a job or in an internship for one full year. After this year, the company has to sponsor you with a Work Visa (see point 2). A good thing to know is that you can apply for this Search Year visa up to three years after your graduation. This means, you can even plan to first return to your home country and come back to The Netherlands later, within three years, and apply for this visa to start your career.

Self-employed & Startup
If you want to be self-employed like a freelancer, there are different rules that apply. Most importantly, you have to fulfill three important criteria. There is a scoring system that consists of:

  • Personal experience (education, entrepreneurship, work experience)
  • Business plan (market analysis, product/service, price, organization, financing).
  • Added value for the Netherlands (innovation, employment creation, investments).

In The Netherlands, there is a different visa if you want to start your own business. The benefit of a Startup Visa is that you can extend the visa for one year after the visa has expired. Maybe you’ll be interested to know that since autumn 2018 TIAS School for Business and Society is official a Start Up Facilitator at Netherlands Enterprise Agency (in Dutch RVO), which enables students to apply for a Startup Visa. This is one of the conditions the IND will ask you in your application for this visa. Other conditions include:

  • The product or the service should be innovative.
  • The start-up entrepreneur must have a plan in order to move from idea to business.
  • The start-up entrepreneur and the facilitator are both registered in the trade register the Chamber of Commerce.
  • There are sufficient financial means(resources) to be able to reside and live in The Netherlands.

Read more about the conditions »

Hopefully this has given you some key information on where to start. If you have any questions about studying in The Netherlands, please don’t hesitate to reach out to our Program Advisers. 

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