After you have figured out which country is suitable for your studies abroad and have chosen the Netherlands, the next step is to go through the visa application process.
Nobody really enjoys this stage, mainly because it requires a lot of time for organising, collecting and preparing all the documents and relevant information. However, applying for a student visa for the Netherlands is not so complicated, especially since not all international students have to do it.
Apply to a Dutch university and get your acceptance letter
If you’re still not sure where you want to study in the Netherlands, you will have to decide before you can start your student visa application process. After being accepted at a Dutch university, you’ll get an acceptance letter required for the visa application.
If you need a visa, your university should contact you and start the application. If this doesn't happen, contact them and ask for support. After the university receives the approval from the Immigration Service, they will inform you. The next step is finding the closest embassy or consulate in your country and applying for the entry visa (MVV).
Consider some of the best universities in the Netherlands:
- Utrecht University
- Eindhoven University of Technology
- Radboud University
- Wageningen University and Research
- Erasmus University Rotterdam
- Tilburg University
- University of Twente
Student visa vs residence permit in the Netherlands
First things first: you will NOT need a student visa or a residence permit if you're from the EU/EEA or several other countries (Australia, Canada, Japan, Monaco, New Zealand, South Korea, the US, and the Vatican City).
But what happens if you're an international student from a different country? It depends on the length of your stay/studies:
- a short stay visa or a Schengen visa is required if you plan to study in the Netherlands for 90 days or less.
- an entry visa (MVV) and a residence permit (VVR) are required if you plan to study in the Netherlands for more than 90 days. Just like the short stay visa, the MVV is only valid for 90 days and should be followed by the application for a VVR.
When and where to apply for the study visa (MVV)
- Your university should start the application procedure. If this doesn't happen, contact them directly. After the university's request is approved, you can apply for an entry visa at a local embassy or consulate in your country.
- You can collect the MVV after up to three months.
- The processing time for your visa application usually lasts one month, but this depends on your nationality and other factors.
Important details about the residence permit (VVR)
If during your studies you decide to change your course and start a new one, the number of years you've already studied will be deducted from the maximum duration of the new course. Before the expiration date of your residence permit, you can apply for an extension of your stay for the rest of your study programme.
In some cases, the residence permit can be withdrawn if, for example, you do not maintain sufficient progress in regards to your academic performance (at least 50 percent of the required credits each academic year).
The university will be required to inform the Dutch Immigration and Naturalization Service (IND) if you discontinue your studies, terminate your registration as a student, or if you no longer have sufficient funds to cover your living costs. This may result in the IND cancelling your visa/residence permit.
Language requirements for studying in the Netherlands
A minimum level of English language proficiency is required before you can study at any degree level in the Netherlands, not only for English-taught programmes but sometimes for those taught in Dutch as well.
The main accepted English tests are:
Required application documents for the Dutch study visa:
- Completed visa application form
- Valid passport
- Two photographs
- Birth certificate
- Academic transcripts
- Official letter from the academic institution in the Netherlands
- Complete study plan – explain why you are interested in studying the chosen subject area and how and why it is related to your prior studies
- Financial proof for the entire period of study (around 870 EUR/month)
- Travel and health insurance
- Visa application fee (174 EUR)
- Photocopies of all the original documents
- Tuberculosis test (required for citizens from some countries)
- Photocopies of all the original documents
- Biometric information
Specific details regarding the Dutch student visa for Chinese students
Students coming from The People's Republic of China have to get a Nuffic Certificate to be eligible for a Dutch entry visa and enrol in an English-taught study programme. This does not also apply to nationals from Hong Kong (SAR), Macau (SAR) and Taiwan (ROC).
The Nuffic Certificate ensures that Chinese university applicants are qualified to pursue their studies in the Netherlands and also acknowledges their English proficiency and the authenticity of their educational degrees and diplomas.
Residence permit in the Netherlands
Usually, universities will apply for the residence permit (VVR) on your behalf, but they will charge for this service.
The residence permit has the role of a study visa and allows you to stay in the country for the full duration of your study programme. If needed, the VVR can be extended to an additional three months, plus the preparatory year.
After you arrive in the Netherlands, you have to register in the Municipal Personal Records Database (BPR) in the municipality where you are going to live.
Working while studying in the Netherlands
If you want to work while pursuing your studies in the Netherlands, you might need a work permit, depending on your nationality.
Citizens from the EU/EEA (except for Croatia), Switzerland and Japan do not need a work permit and have no restriction on the number of work hours. Citizens from Croatia and other countries will need a work permit and only the employer or employment agency can apply for the work permit on their behalf.
International students are allowed to work up to 10 hours a week or full-time during the summer months only.
Check the website of the Dutch Immigration and Naturalization Service (IND) for more information on the visa and residence permit in the Netherlands.