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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.

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Parkinson Building, University of Leeds

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.

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Leiden Wind Mill, Molen De Valk

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Leiden Wind Mill, Molen De Put

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.

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Together with other expats in Leiden for the ‘Kick-Off Leiden’ Programme, August 2018

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.

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28 thoughts on “The Netherlands Orientation Year Visa

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  2. Hi Zakki,

    Thank you for this very informative blog!

    One question though for the Nuffic evaluation, I went through their website and it says if you have a master’s degree, you need to submit additional documents as well as such as:
    – A copy of the bachelor diploma, as issued by the educational institute.
    -Acopy of the list of results that goes with it, as issued by the educational institute
    -If necessary, a copy of a sworn translation of the aforementioned documents.

    Is this the case for you or you only submitted your master’s degree to get the Nuffic evaluation?
    Your response is much appreciated!

    Best,
    Alex

    Like

    • Hi Alex,

      So sorry for the late reply. Yes, we need to also submit our Bachelor’s certificate and transcript (translated to Dutch or English if they’re in foreign language).

      Like

      • No worries. Got my evalution letter a few days ago! Do you have any tips for job hunting in the Netherlands? Went through a few blogs and people (non EU expats for particular) seemed to find it very challenging. This finding makes me worried about the process! Appreciate if you have any tips for that!
        Best,
        Alex

        Like

      • Congrats! Getting a job is quite competitive but still, so many vacancies for internationals who don’t speak Dutch. Just apply as many as you can. I mainly applied through LinkedIn/ LinkedIn Jobs and recruiters normally search potential candidates also by LinkedIn. I spent for about 2 months for interview etc, until I got my current job. My other two friends with Orientation Year Visa got job after 3 months, also got info from LinkedIn. Make sure the companies are in ‘Public Sponsor for Highly Skilled Migrant Visa’ if you want to extend your stay after a year. My company is processing my Visa to Highly Skilled Migrant now. This sponsor information is available in IND page. Good Luck!

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      • Thank you! Job hunting is a challenge in general but for this case, I’ll take notes of what you just advised. Also, I’m sure you have heard about the 30% tax ruling for expats. It is common there and are you part of the scheme too?

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      • 30% tax ruling is valid for people who move to NL because of the job invitation from a company, or reside and have a job abroad before getting an offer from a company. In my case, because I have already stayed in NL for two months before getting an offer, it’s not valid for me.

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  3. Hello Zakki and Alex,

    I’m also planning for my orientation year in Netherlands and I am at the first step. I am going to submit the documents for the evaluation by email. I wonder if I can attach the transcript, or do I really need to ask my university to send IDW the hard-copy one. And does the transcript serve as the list of subjects for my study? Thank you for the useful information in the blog.

    Nicolas.

    Like

    • Hi Nicolas,

      In my experience, it’s enough to just send the scanned copy via email for credential evaluation. There is no related activity with the Uni, all we can do by ourselves. The transcript means the list of subjects that you have studied and normally it includes score in each subject.

      Like

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  5. Hello Zaki,

    Thank you for the amazing and informative write up.
    I submitted my application via Dutch embassy here in India on 14th Feb and recently posted the documents and transferred the fee.

    In your experience, staying with other mates on orientation year, how much time do they take to grant the visa? I know IND has to make a decision in 90 days but I wondering if there is a sort of pattern for granting the orientation visa…

    Thank you.

    Like

    • Hi Shahruq,
      Glad to know that it’s helpful. I have three friends with Orientation Year Visa. They applied from Japan, Indonesia and one extended from Dutch Student Visa in Netherlands. They got response from IND between 3 weeks until 1 month.

      Like

      • Thanks for the swift response Zakki! One more question… Do you get any kind of confirmation via email when IND receives the documents via post and when the fee is transferred to them?

        I haven’t received one. Do you think, I should contact them or just wait for atleast a month to pass by?

        Like

      • I didn’t get any confirmation after I paid the fee or when they received my documents. I also didn’t send them email or call them to confirm.
        I received the IND email when they granted the visa, asking me to collect MVV sticker in the embassy. Then that’s the time when I contacted the embassy to make an appointment.
        That’s up to you, really. But I think give them time to process the payment or sort out your documents.
        All the best!

        Like

    • Hey man ,
      I have also been trying to apply for Orientation visa , I want to Mumbai CG, they didn’t know much more about it and I had filled MVV for only and Submitted all supporting documents required for this visa . I don’t have V-NUMBER yet neither I got my passport. I also haven’t done any process with IND since I don’t have V number from Embassy.

      However, the lady who took my biometric said you should be able to collect your passport in week . Now i am confused about it since I have paid any fee to IND ans have not completed any other process with IND .

      Do you mind writing down your Indian process PLEASE.

      nitinbhongade2014@gmail.com

      THANKS

      Like

      • Hi,

        Based on what you mentioned is you only processed the MVV sticker in your passport. MVV is only used to enter the Netherlands, it’s like travelling sticker. This is not the visa.
        I didn’t do it in India, I did it in the UK but I guess the process is the same. We submit all documents needed for the Visa directly to the IND, not to the embassy. The embassy will only take our biometric and fingerprints then put the MVV sticker to our passport. Then we need to collect the actual residence card once we arrive in the Netherlands in IND desk. They should also give you your v-number as this is important as a reference for you to get your identity number.

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    • Hey ,
      I have submitted MVV application at embassy mumbai and they haven’t ask me for anything else. I rekon it is necessary to have V number for filling out form with IND and to pay the fee.

      However I don’t have any V number yet , and lady who took my biometric told me that I will get my passport in about a week.

      I am confused now , am I doing it properly or not or do I have to complete other process as well.

      Can you please write down your experience at Netherlands embassy in India.

      Thanks

      Like

      • If you read the article in this blog, if you follow the written official procedure then I guess that’s correct. My suggestion is just wait for your passport first and confirm to your local embassy.
        Or may be Shahruq also can advise you.

        Like

      • Hey man, thanks .
        I have been in contact with them , in offical website they said “I will receive letter and instructions from Dutch embassy about how to pay fee ” . I still haven’t got it.

        Can you tell me did you got that letter while you were applying for MVV . How long did it take to get that instructions letter and other forms?

        Like

      • Hi,
        So when I went to the embassy, they already noticed that I’m applying for the ‘Orientation Year Visa’, even though when we make appointment to the embassy, we should make an appointment for MVV. What I did in the embassy was:
        1. filling the ‘Orientation Year Visa form’, giving the copy of my documents, taking fingerprints and biometric photo.
        2. In one of the forms of ‘Orientation Year Visa’ form is the instruction about how to pay for the visa, including bank account number of IND and the total amount that we need to pay. In the form, there’s also IND address in Netherlands to send our documents by post. This can be done parallel.
        3. To pay the money, embassy will give us the V-number (which take them about few hours) and they sent me an email to inform me the number.

        I don’t understand why they have such a different process in India. They supposed to provide you all the forms and information when you went there. MVV is just your permit to enter the country and it has to be 90 days since they put it in your passport. My concern is if you don’t complete your ‘Orientation Year Visa’ process within that 90 days, then you will need to apply for MVV again.
        It’s not depend on the Dutch Embassy to approve your Visa submission, it’s IND in the Netherlands.

        Like

      • Thanks you very much ,

        I think they don’t understand the whole procedure, they didn’t ask for anything else rather they asked me whether I know the procedure or not . I told them that I need V Number to process further with IND .

        In another mail , they told me I will get all necessary form and Instructions at the time if receiving passport.
        Well let’s see , I will aslo bring all paperwork (Orientation year form) to ask then weather I need to submit it or not .

        I will let you know

        Thank you

        Like

    • Hey shahruq ,

      I am also applying from India .
      However I am bit confused now .
      I applied with MVV form at embassy and they took my passport and biometrics.and told me that I will be able to get my passport after a week.

      I haven’t got V- number from them , how am I supposed to send documents to IND and pay fee without unique number?

      Can you please write you Indian experience and how did you proceed it.

      Like

      • I’m assuming that officers in Dutch Embassy in India don’t really understand what ‘Orientation Year Visa’ and how the process is. Notes that this is not MVV Visa, MVV is just sticker to enter the country. what’s needed is the specific ‘Orientation Year’ Visa form. I think they just did procedures for an MVV. Because getting a V-number is just a matter of system and you will get it in less than 12 hours.
        My suggestion is write down all steps explained in IND official website (mentioned in my article) and show it to the officers.
        I guess it’will be great if you provide them will all information and documents (including credential evaluation from Nuffic).

        Like

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  7. Hey Zakki,

    Thank you for the detailed explanation on the process. However, I do have a question regarding accommodation. I understand that registration at the local municipality requires you to have an address in the Netherlands. I heard that it is fairly difficult or almost impossible to obtain a room or an apartment without having a job contract.

    Could you tell me about your journey in obtaining accommodation in the Netherlands?

    Like

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