August 9, 2023

The Dutch 'Zoekjaar' Permit: Unlocking Talent for Employers in the Netherlands

The Dutch 'Zoekjaar' (Orientation Year) permit can be a game-changer for employers. This visa can be granted not only to non-EU internationals who have obtained a diploma in the Netherlands within the last 3 years, but also to graduates of non-Dutch Master's level and higher degree programmes (subject to certain conditions). The Orientation Year permit itself allows these recent graduates to live and work in the Netherlands for one year with unrestricted access to the job market whilst they search for long-term employment.

Discover more below about how hiring individuals with this Orientation Year permit can be a game-changer for you as an employer.

1. Access a Pool of Talented Graduates

International students that are eligible for this visa are highly educated. If they have recently graduated from degree programme within the Netherlands, they will hold a Dutch Bachelor's or Master's diploma, and if they have graduated from a degree programme outside the Netherlands they will hold a Master's diploma. This pool of talented graduates have acquired specialised knowledge and skills during their academic journey, making them a sought-after addition to any workforce. By tapping into this talent pool, you can find skilled and motivated candidates to fill positions in your company.

2. Easier Hiring Process

Hiring international talent from outside the EU often requires navigating complex visa applications and procedures. This usually makes hiring an EU candidate easier than hiring a non-EU candidate. However, with the Orientation Year permit's granting of unrestricted access to the labour market, the process of hiring a non-EU international is far more accessible for employers. This eliminates bureaucratic hurdles and allows you to bring new talent on board swiftly and efficiently.

3. Lower Salary Requirements

If the candidate you wish to hire currently has an Orientation Year visa, then you can choose to apply for a Highly Skilled migrant ('kennismigrant') residence permit. However, unlike regular highly skilled migrants, those who have previously had an Orientation Year visa have lower salary requirements. For instance, in 2023, the minimum salary threshold for most highly skilled migrants is €5008 (for individuals over 30) or €3672 (for those under 30).

For graduates with an Orientation Year visa, though, the minimum salary requirement for a Highly Skilled Migrant visa is significantly lower. In 2023, this salary threshold sits at a minimum of €2631 per month. This means you can hire highly qualified individuals at a more competitive cost in comparison to directly hiring from outside the EU.

4. Solution to Labour Market Shortages

In a competitive global market, finding the right talent can be challenging. The Orientation Year permit programme addresses labor market shortages in the Netherlands by offering access to a pool of educated and skilled job seekers. Employers can leverage this opportunity to bridge talent gaps and strengthen their teams.

5. Employee Retention and Loyalty

International students with the Orientation Year permit are keen to secure a job in the Netherlands. This motivation often translates into higher employee engagement and loyalty. By hiring these individuals, you can build a team of committed professionals who are invested in contributing to your company's success.

6. Diverse Perspectives and Cultural Exchange

Bringing in talent from various cultural backgrounds enriches your organisation. It fosters diversity of thought and a broader perspective, which can lead to innovative problem-solving and increased creativity within your team.


The Orientation Year permit is a win-win for both employers and international graduates. Employers gain access to a pool of talented and motivated individuals with a lower salary requirement, while international graduates have an opportunity to kickstart their careers in the Netherlands. This programme addresses labour market shortages and promotes diversity in the workplace, making it an attractive option for businesses throughout the country.

At Leiden International Centre, we are here to assist you with any queries related to hiring international talent. If you are looking to strengthen your team with skilled professionals, don't hesitate to explore the potential of the Orientation Year permit candidates.

Interested in discovering more about the Orientation Year visa? Click here.

Did you know? Within walking distance of the monumental city centre Leiden