How to Stay in the Netherlands after Graduation

Education abroad is the best way to get new knowledge and skills and learn about new countries and cultures. Even just one year of studies abroad is a great opportunity to get a unique experience of living in another country that can significantly enrich a person’s professional and personal life. We can make a long list of advantages that one can get while studying abroad. But for this time we would like to focus on one – education abroad is one of the best ways to start the migration to another country!


We live in the world with huge differences in economic and social development between different countries. And there is nothing wrong that people from less developed countries would like to move to more developed ones. This is especially true about young people. In a globalized world young people watch the same TV-programs and share similar values. They have similar dreams and similar needs. At the same time youth from some countries have more opportunities to reach those dreams and satisfy those need than young people from other parts of the world. And that leads to an absolutely normal and understandable desire of youth to move to the countries where their needs could be easier satisfied. People – including youth – would like to live in the countries where they have more opportunities to develop themselves and have a better life.

Young people from less developed countries would like to move to more developed ones not because they are looking for an easy life. Opposite! The life in a new country often might bring a lot of new challenges. They just would like to live in the country where they are respected and have opportunities to work in order to have a good life. No one should judge for this!

Education is one of the most realistic ways to migrate to a new country! And definitely for young people! We believe the Netherlands is one of the countries, which make it particularly feasible for youth to stay in the country after the graduation. Why?! Let us explain!

When you start studies as a foreign student usually you are given the residence permit. And then after the graduation you have short time – usually a few months – when your residence is still valid and you need to find a job in order to stay in the country or leave it. Finding a job within a few months is not always easy – especially in a foreign country. Some countries – including the Netherlands – allow you to stay for another year after graduation to find a job.


It sounds very realistic to find a job after graduation that will allow you to stay in the country. But how does it work?

Imagine you come to the Netherlands for your master studies. Master studies in the Netherlands are usually one-year long. You can also do two-year programs of a research master, which is slightly more academic. If you are non-EU citizen you will be given a residence permit for the period of your master studies. Usually the residence permit is valid till the moment you get the diploma + a few months. If you are lucky by the time of expiring of your residence permit you might already have a job and then via that job you can receive a new residence permit. However, if you do not have a job yet there is another solution. When you receive a diploma in the Netherlands you can apply for 1-year ‘Search Year’ residence permit. How can you receive it? After receiving diploma and before the expiration of your current residence permit (based on your studies) you need to go to the migration office and apply for the ‘Search Year’ visa. The application requirements are really easy – you only need your diploma received in the Netherlands. After the application you will receive the stamp in your passport. With this stamp you already have the right to work in the Netherlands. Shortly you will receive your new residence permit (based on the ‘Search Year’ condition), which will be valid for one year. And during this year you can already looked for a stable job that can provide you the right to stay in the Netherlands after a search year.

You can find detailed information about ‘Search Year’ residency on the website of the migration office.

Interesting details about ‘Search Year’ residency is that you can apply for it within 3 years after the graduation. If after graduation you want to go to your home country or have a job offer in another country but after you decide to come back to the Netherlands – you can still apply for one-year search residency within 3 years after graduation!

You should keep in mind that the ‘Search Year’ residency only gives you the right to stay in the country. But you need to take care of your accommodation and expenses yourself. In fact it is difficult to find quickly the desired job. In those cases recent graduates can just start doing any job in order to support own living before they can find a desired one. Good to know that the minimum wage in the Netherlands is more than 1500 euro and that means even the most basic job will give you enough income to support your stay.

During your search year you can legally stay in the Netherlands and do any job or not work at all (if you have enough savings). However, if you want to stay in the Netherlands after your search year – you would need to find the ground to receive a new residence permit. This ground could be a job. You have to be aware that not all jobs can provide you the sufficient ground for a residence permit. Those are usually only qualified jobs. In addition, your employer need to have the relevant permission in order to apply for the residence permit for you. In fact all large international companies can do it and a lot of smaller ones. But it is important to know that not any company can do it and that is why it would be smart while applying for jobs to inform company that you are on ‘Search Year’ and ask them if they are qualified to apply for the residency for you. The list of companies that are eligible to make the application is available on the website of the migration office.

In order to stay in the Netherlands based on your work after your search year you need to apply for the residence as a highly skilled migrant. This application is done via the employer and that means you need to find the employer (from the list above) that could provide you the ground to apply for the residence as a highly skilled migrant. If you would like to learn more about this type of residency – you can find more information on the website of the migration office.

We hope we gave you some idea why the Netherlands is a good option to do your master if you search for opportunities to migrate to a new place! Not all countries are so welcome to their graduates and allow them to stay for the whole year after the graduation and look for a job! The Netherlands are! And that is the reason why we believe that it is quite feasible to stay here after your graduation! And if you still have questions about the ‘Search Year’ residency – do not hesitate to contact us! The specialists of the Netherlands Education Group would be happy to answer your questions!