Mar 15, 2016 at 12:00am ET By Joanna Hughes

International students seeking to remain in the Netherlands following graduation will now have more time to apply to stay, thanks to imminent changes to the country’s Orientation Year permit. Let’s take a closer look at the updated Orientation Year visa, along with what it means for grads in the Netherlands.

About the Orientation Year

Designated for non-EU students in the Netherlands, the Orientation Year permit grants extra time of up to one year to graduates following completion of their studies to stay in the country and look for a job.

The program is currently divided into two streams: one for new grads which allows students to apply for visas for up to a year, and one for “highly educated persons,” including Master’s and Ph.D. program grads, which allows them to apply for visas within three years albeit with an additional work program.

Changes Ahead

When the new changes take effect in 2016, the two streams will be joined into one permit through which all international grads will have three full years to apply for the visa with no additional work permits. The extended window frees students from having to make an immediate decision upon graduation and opens the door to returning to work during the subsequent three-year period.

While the permit will remain non-extendable, provisions are in place for extensions for candidates who procure another degree as well as for those who are engaged in scientific research. Upon the permit’s expiration, several options remain for those wishing to stay in the Netherlands, including the popular visa for highly skilled migrants, as well as visas for partners and spouses of registered people and self-employed entrepreneurs.

Policymakers are hopeful that the revised Orientation Year visa will attract the interest of more prospective international students by offering enhanced career opportunities toward the country’s ultimate goal of supporting international exchange and student mobility.

Joanna worked in higher education administration for many years at a leading research institution before becoming a full-time freelance writer. She lives in the beautiful White Mountains region of New Hampshire with her family.

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