Orientation Year: I am graduating soon. How can I apply for a search year (zoekjaar) visa?

(Last edited: Thursday, 26 November 2020, 5:22 PM)

Note: The orientation year or zoekjaar residence permit is only applicable if you have been in the Netherlands on a study visa and you are not an EU/EEA resident.

If you have successfully completed your university studies and you would like to stay in the Netherlands to find a job or start your own company, you have to apply for the orientation (search) year or zoekjar residence permit. Once you have passed your Graduation Assignment (GA)/Final Project (FP) Oral Defence, Wittenborg will start your deregistration process and inform the Dutch Immigration Office (IND) as we are legally bound to do so within 4 weeks of the Oral Defence day. This means that your study visa will be invalid after 4 weeks of your GA/FP Oral Defence. Unfortunately, this period cannot be extended as per the regulations of IND. During this 4-week period, we will prepare and sign your 'Declaration of Study Completion'. You need this document to apply for your orientation year residence permit at IND (alternatively, you can use your Graduation Diploma if you have received it). If you would like this document, please send us an email at with your full name, student number and your current registered address details. We will send you this document within one week after your Oral Defence. Take note that you need to apply for this new residence permit as soon as possible to avoid facing a "residency gap".

Here are some tips on how to apply for the Orientation Year Residence Permit:

1) You can start the online application on the IND website at . Click the ‘Apply online’ button. Alternatively you can apply by mail, but this will take a longer processing time.

2) For the online application, you need your DigiD and iDeal

3) There will be a fee charged for your application. Currently, (in  2020), the fee is €174. (Please check the website for any updates on the cost of application).

4) You also need to upload some documents together with your application. You can check the list of documents that you need to upload from the same website.

5) After your application has been received, the IND will send a confirmation letter. The letter will state the date the IND has received the application and the period within which the IND makes a decision. As a rule, the IND has to make a decision within a period of 90 days. However, if you apply online and your application is complete, the IND strives to handle your application in 2 weeks.

6) There are certain conditions which you need to satisfy before applying for this residence permit. Please check for more details from the same website.

You can refer to the attached FAQ document from IND if you have any other queries.

» FAQ Studying @ Wittenborg