Graduated from the university outside of the Netherlands, having a Master’s Degree from one of the top 200 universities in the world is the right way to get a chance to work full time in this country and secure a career in Europe.
Netherlands’ Immigration and Naturalisation Service (IND) which is the part of Ministry of Justice and Security uses the top 200 of one of the general ranking lists or in the top 200 of one of the available ranking lists by subject based on the lists from THE/ QS/ ARWU.
It may be easy for they are who graduated from Dutch Institutions because after graduation they can directly apply but for they are who graduated abroad, it is quite a task to prepare the documents for an administrative purpose. However getting this highly educated person status and earning the visa does not take long. In total, I got the visa for 1,5 months.
I graduated in 2017 from the University of Leeds in the UK and the university is ranked top 100 globally. I write about my journey to study there with a full scholarship in here.
While getting a working visa (tier-2) sponsorship for an international is very hard in the UK, the Netherlands is very open and the process is not complicated. I started by doing the credential evaluation for my certificate through this official website. It is one of the requirements if we graduate from the international institution outside the Netherlands. In 2018, the cost of the credential evaluation is € 148,83 for the regular process (completed in four weeks) and € 212,96 for the urgent process (completed in two weeks time). I decided to do the urgent process. All information concerning Orientation Year visa can be found here.
Making an appointment to process the Orientation Year visa is not the same as Tourist visa. For people from the countries who need Schengen visa to enter Europe, we need to process it through VFS agent. However, Orientation Year visa is processed directly in the embassy. So I made an appointment to make an MVV. MVV is the sticker that will be placed in the passport and will be used to enter the Netherlands. MVV is valid for 90 days and during that time we can collect Orientation Year visa which is in the form of a Residence Permit Card when we arrive in the country. Even though I hold the Indonesian Passport, I am allowed to book an appointment at the Netherland’s Embassy in London, as I was staying in the UK at that time. I sent the email first to the consular officer and they sent the link to book the time and date. For other Dutch Embassies, Consulates or Representations in other countries can be checked here.
I filled the application form which is provided online on the website and it turned out the Dutch Embassy in London gave me the different forms and had to fill them directly there. So basically, I just brought the evidence documents to the embassy. All information about the documents needed is listed here. The credential evaluation from Nuffic was sent to my address exactly in two weeks time. It is just the translation of my English certificate to the Dutch language with an official stamp. All other documents are allowed to be in English, French or German. If we are graduated from the institution which uses English as the taught language, there is no need to provide an IELTS/ TOEFL certificate.
On the day of my appointment, I brought these documents with me: the copies of Passport; Credential Evaluation; Original Master’s Degree Certificate; The documentary evidence showing that my educational institution was the top 200 of THE, QS and ARWU list; Biometric photos. I then filled the registration form, including the form to undergo a Tuberculosis (TB) test (people from some of the countries such as Australia, USA and UK are exempt from the obligation to take the TB test). Then the embassy gave me the V-number which was used to complete the information in the form.
Apparently, the embassy is just responsible for taking our biometric photos, fingerprints and providing the V-number. We must send all these copies of documents by post to IND address in the Netherlands, including the evidence that we have paid the fee. I was lucky to pay € 285 as it was changed in the 4th of May 2018, right in the day I had the appointment. Before that, it was € 641. I transferred the fee to IND account using reference number that was given by the embassy as the notes.
I waited around three weeks until IND sent me an email, informing that they already approved my application, granted the visa and sent the decision information to the embassy in London. I was allowed collecting the MVV Sticker in the embassy. I made an appointment again to collect the sticker to be put on my passport. The MVV sticker is valid since the day we pick it up from the embassy but the Orientation Year visa will be valid from the day we enter the Netherlands. I informed the IND through email about my plan to enter the country in the specific date so that my visa would be started on the day of my arrival.
After arriving in the Netherlands, I picked my Residence Permit Card from the IND desk in Rotterdam. We can choose where to collect it from seven IND desks (Amsterdam, Den Bosch, Eindhoven, Den Haag, Utrecht, Zwolle, Rotterdam) when we fill the form. But the process has not finished yet. After I received the card, I had to register myself with the local municipality in the area where I would live to get the citizen service number (BSN). As I stay in Leiden, and the town has its own expat centre to process the registration, I then made an appointment through the expat centre in Leiden. It was just a short interview with the officers, asking about my motivation to move to the Netherlands, why I stay in Leiden, etc. They still asked about my birth certificate in the Dutch Language and I did not have it as that was not part of the requirements for Orientation Year Visa. However, they gave me the BSN number at the end.
Two other necessary actions after collecting the Residence Permit and registering with the local municipality are taking TB test and paying for health insurance. TB test is conducted in the Area Health Authority (GGD) and should be done within 3 months after having received the residence permit. Health Insurance is necessary to be paid within four months after arrival in the country. Different from the free service in the UK, Dutch people pay for their health insurance. This website can be used to compare the total cost to be paid monthly.
Another important thing as an expat in the Netherlands is having a Digital Identification (DigiD). DigiD is used to access many services and government websites, including health insurance registration. The DigiD can be requested online for free in here.
In summary, there are five steps to apply for the Netherlands Orientation Year Visa if we graduate from the top 200 international universities: Getting the Credential Evaluation from Nuffic; Visiting Dutch Embassy/ Consulate/ Representations for information collection; Paying the fee and sending the required documents to IND in the Netherlands; Collecting the MVV sticker from the embassy; Travelling to the Netherlands. Then there are four more steps after we arrive in the country: Collecting the Residence Permit from the IND desk; Registering to the local municipality; Taking the TB test; Paying the health insurance.
Holding the Orientation Year visa means that we are eligible to work full time in the country without restriction. It is valid for one year. Before it ends, if we still want to stay and work in the Netherlands, we can apply for other types of visa such as the Highly Skilled Migrant visa. The process is almost the same with Orientation Year but there are more specific requirements such as the amount of salary and working status recognition from official sponsors that are registered in the IND. The public register recognised sponsors for the highly skilled migrant visa can be found here.
My journey in the country that colonised Indonesia for 126 years has just begun and I still do not know what lies ahead but I believe this is the right decision I made after leaving the UK.