Student life

No extra ‘search year’ for non-European graduates

Despite the corona crisis, graduates from outside of Europe are not permitted to remain in the Netherlands for a longer period to seek employment.
Hoger Onderwijs Persbureau

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The corona crisis affects the employment market. While the number of job openings has plummeted since March, the rate of employment has risen steeply.

This is bad news for students from outside of Europe wishing to work in the Netherlands after graduating. They have only one year to find work here (the so-called ‘search year’). If their search fails, they must return to their country of origin.


D66 calls for tolerance. The government party wants to know whether the search period could be extended, or at least frozen for the duration of the crisis.

Minister Koolmees (also of D66) is not eager. Amending the regulations would take too long for graduates already in their search year, he writes in a letter to the parliament. Moreover, there is no telling when the situation on the job market may improve for highly skilled migrants.


To offer the non-EU students ‘some measure of relief’, the minister agrees to allow the graduates to continue their search for work from their home county, based on a lower salary criterium after their resident permit has expired.

The criteria are now as follows: to apply for a residence permit, highly skilled migrants below the age of 30 are normally required to earn a gross sum of at least 3,381 euros. This threshold is 2,423 euros for graduates during their search year. This lower threshold will now continue to apply for an additional two years (three years in total, including the search year) for graduates seeking employment from their home country after their residence permit has expired.


Alumni of the private Wittenborg University of Applied Sciences launched a petition earlier this year calling for an extension of the search period from one to two years. Almost 3,000 supporters have signed the petition.

HOP, Evelien Flink

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