Before you can enter the Netherlands for study purposes you will most likely need to apply for an entry visa. There are two types of entry visas. The short stay visa is for a period of up to 90 days, while the long stay visa is for 90+ days. As a student, you will be applying for the long stay visa.
Note: If you are a citizen of Australia, Canada, EU/EEA countries, Japan, Monaco, New Zealand, South Korea, Switzerland, the USA, or Vatican City, you are NOT required to get an entry visa and you may skip this section.
If you’re still unsure whether or not you need an entry visa, check the Nuffic student visa wizard to find out. The Immigration and Naturalisation Service (Immigratie- en Naturalisatiedienst or IND) page also has a residence wizard available to double-check your situation, as does the New to Holland Dutch government immigration website.
The long stay visa, also called a provisional residence permit and known as a Machtiging tot Voorlopig Verblijf (MVV) in Dutch, allows you to apply for a residence permit once you arrive in the Netherlands.
Note: ALL non-EU/EEA or Swiss citizens MUST apply for a residence permit in order to legally reside in the Netherlands for longer than three months.
It is likely that the school you’ve applied to will do most of the paperwork when it comes to getting the provisional residence permit. The application procedure consists of two parts - the ‘advisory procedure’, and the formal application. The advisory procedure is a short-form procedure which your school handles. The formal application consists of your in-person application at a Dutch embassy or consulate for the provisional residence permit (click here to find the Dutch embassy or consulate nearest you).
The advisory procedure shortens the process of applying for the provisional residence permit. It usually takes about two weeks. Your school contacts the Immigration and Naturalisation Service office (IND) and asks them to inform the Dutch embassy or consulate that you intend to apply for a provisional residence permit. All the necessary documents and paperwork will be sent to the IND by your school, and the IND will then decide whether or not you meet the criteria for the permit.
The criteria that must be met consists of:
This procedure can take from three to six months, depending on whether your school is applying via the advisory procedure or not. Check your school website or contact your school’s international office in order to find out more about your specific procedure.
NOTE: The MVV and the residence permit have fees. These fees are not refundable so you must be prepared to pay them, regardless of whether or not your application is granted.
Once you have been granted your MVV and have entered the Netherlands, you must apply for a residence permit. You will receive an invitation for an intake appointment to which you need to bring the following documents:
In order to send your application to the IND, your school will need:
All documents must be in either Dutch, German, English, or French. Otherwise, they must be sent with an official translation.
You may need to provide a legalised birth certificate or marriage certificate or other document. In order to be legalised, the document must have at least the three following stamps:
If you’re not sure, ask the Ministry of Foreign Affairs office in your country. Careful: It might take a few months to get everything processed and legalised so make sure you start early!
If you don’t meet the criteria and are not able to get a provisional residence permit, IND will let your school know.
If you do meet the criteria and can get the provisional residence permit, IND will let both your school and the Dutch embassy or consulate nearest you know. You are then able to move on to the second part of the application procedure and go to the Dutch embassy or consulate in your home country* in person to apply. Because the IND has already confirmed your eligibility, the embassy or consulate just needs to confirm your identity using your passport, and you’ll need to fill out a form. It is possible that your application may still get denied, so you should wait until you have the MVV sticket in your passport before booking your flight to the Netherlands.
*You can also apply in person at a Dutch embassy or consulate other than your home country, but you MUST be a legal resident of that country, meaning that you have a residence permit or citizenship of that country at the time of application for the provisional residence permit (tourists visas don’t count.)
Check the administration fees to find out what your costs will be.
If you are not a student from the EU/EEA or Switzerland, in the Netherlands you will be required to apply for a residence permit in order to legally stay here for longer than three months. This permit will be valid for up to a year, but may be extended.
Your host institution will help you with the application process. This also saves you from having to apply for a residence permit separately once you arrive in the Netherlands.
For further details about the MVV and residence permit application processes, please see the linked pdf.
You will need to provide a number of documents for your provisional residence permit application, which your university will collect and pass on as part of your application on your behalf:
IND only accepts documents written in Dutch, English, German or French. If your documents are in another language, you will have to get them officially translated and then provide a copy of the original and translated version.
You can prove your financial means in the following ways:
You may be able to transfer the full amount necessary directly to your host institution's account. If you choose to do this, your host institution will also include a copy of its bank statement with details of your payment in the application papers it sends to the IND.
Many of the documents you need to provide will need to be ‘legalised’. Legalisation is an official confirmation that your documents are legitimate and meet the right requirements, for example that they have been issued by someone of the right authority, and that the documents themselves are genuine and not forgeries.
A document must have a minimum of three signatures and/or stamps issued by:
This process can take a frustratingly long time, possibly even several months, so it is definitely advisable to start as early as possible!
On 1st January 2011 a new immigration law came into place in the Netherlands, known as the Modern Migration Policy. This policy places a lot of emphasis and importance on the person or institution who will sponsor your visa and residence permit.
For the international student, this new policy means:
Due to this new legislation, now you can apply for both the provisional and permanent residence permits at the same time. This will usually be taken care of by your university.
You collect your provisional residence permit at the Dutch embassy in your home country before you come to the Netherlands. As soon as you arrive in the Netherlands you will be able to collect your residence permit at the IND, or in many cases your university will arrange with the IND for you to pick it up at your intake appointment at the university, making things much simpler.
Instead of lasting just one year, now the residence permit lasts for the duration of your studies with an extra three months in between academic years. This means you will only need to apply for an extension to your permit if you choose to take longer to study than the default amount of time.
However, due to the fact that there is no renewal process, your academic progress will be monitored. A student will need to attain at least half of the study credits for one academic year. The normal amount of credits (ECTS) that needs to be attained in one year is 60, so a student would need to attain at least 30 credits to meet the requirements. Your university will report your ECTS attainment to the IND as part of your yearly study progress measurements. If you are unable to finish at least 50% of your study load for one year, the university will investigate the reasons why, and in case there is no justifiable reason your residence permit can be revoked and you will be forced to return to your home country.
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