Student visa & permits

If you’re moving to the Netherlands to study, to do an internship, a research project or (voluntary) work, you might need a visa. A distinction can be made between single entry and multiple entry visas. Furthermore, to obtain your visa, registration or permit, you might need to legalise documents such as your birth certificate. This needs to be arranged before travelling to the Netherlands. On this page, you’ll find in-depth information on visa requirements, legalising documents and the Nuffic Certificate for Chinese students.

Do I need a visa to study in the Netherlands?

Whether a visa or work permit is required or not depends on your situation:

  • What is your (passport) nationality?
  • The purpose of your stay: study, work, internship, research project or maybe a combination of the before-mentioned options?
  • Duration: how long are you planning to stay? More or less than 90 days?

Nationalities from the European Union/EEA (as well as nationals from Japan, Vatican City, the United States, South Korea, Australia, Canada, Monaco and New Zealand) are not required to apply for a student visa or residence permit. For other nationalities, the existing options will be described below.

Short-stay Schengen visa (90 days or less)

Are you planning on staying in the Netherlands for less than 90 days? In that case, depending on your nationality, you may need to apply for a short-stay Schengen visa. With this visa, you can travel without any restrictions within Holland and the other 26 Schengen countries (within 180 days, for a maximum of 90 days). For the period your visa is valid, you are free to travel unless your visa is limited to a single or a few countries.

Single-entry or multiple-entry visa?

If you decide on leaving the Schengen area during your stay and you want to enter again afterwards, instead of a single-entry visa, you’ll need to apply for a multiple-entry visa. The 180-day limit means that after spending a maximum of 90 days in Schengen countries, you’ll have to wait another 90 days to be able to return with a new short-stay visa.

I want to visit more Schengen countries

Maybe you want to travel around in different Schengen countries for a holiday or other purposes? In that case, you can apply for your visa at the consulate or embassy of the country concerning your primary travel purpose, for example, the country where you will be studying. If this is the same for more countries, apply to the country where you’ve planned your longest stay. Last but not least, if both the duration of your stay and travel purpose are the same for more than one country, submit your application to the consulate or embassy of the country you plan on visiting first.

Long-stay visa (MVV)

If you plan on staying in the Netherlands for more than 90 days, the possibility exists that you need a long-stay visa, also called an MVV (authorisation for temporary stay). You might also need a residence permit (VVR). All of this depends on the purpose of your stay and your nationality.

Where and how to apply for my visa?

If you’re going to study in the Netherlands, your host university will contact you after enrolment to help get you started.

  • You’ll receive an acceptance letter; you will need that to apply for your visa. You can contact the international office if your institution doesn’t contact you automatically.
  • Make sure to start all preparations as early as possible. However, the IND (Immigration and Naturalisation Service) is usually quite fast (the time to process will take about one month). You will be contacted when your university or other institution receives a letter of approval from the IND.
  • From that point on, you can apply for the corresponding entry visa (MVV) in your home country at the consulate or embassy. You have up to 3 months to collect your student visa (MVV).

Visa advisor

To find out if you need to apply for a visa or work or residence permit, you can use the visa advisor on the website of the Dutch government. You’ll need to specify the duration of your stay in the Schengen area and your nationality. Furthermore, depending on the answers, you might need to respond to other questions regarding your travel documents, residence permit or direct family members living in the EU/Schengen area.

Residence permit (VVR)

When do you need to apply for a residence permit? With the authorisation for a temporary stay (MVV), you are allowed to enter the Netherlands for six months. Most study programmes take (much) longer. In this case, you’ll need a residence permit (unless you are an international student from the EU/EAA or Switzerland).
Like the student visa, your educational institution will handle the application process. You are not able to initiate this by yourself. The residence permit will be valid for the duration of your study programme and is given out for study purposes only. You must also show sufficient study progress. The residence permit will lose its validity in case you score less than 50% of the credits throughout the duration of the programme.

Requirements for your visa & residence permit application

First of all, to be able to study for any degree in the Netherlands, proficiency in the English language at a minimum level is required. This can include courses that are not taught in English as well. English tests that are generally accepted to prove your proficiency are TOEFL iBT, IELTS Academic or PTE Academic.
First of all, you’ll fill out the student visa application form. Furthermore, you’ll need to provide the following documents in your application:

  • Valid passport
  • Birth certificate
  • 2 photographs
  • Biometric information
  • Academic transcripts
  • Your study plan: why do you want to study that programme in particular, and in which way is it connected or related to your previous studies?
  • The acceptance letter you’ve received from your Dutch academic institution for your full-time daytime course
  • Health insurance (check our page student insurance to see if you have to take out Dutch healthcare insurance)
  • Proof of Funds for the whole study period: you can find the income requirements on the IND website also have a look at our page student finance for information on financing your studies)
  • Bring photocopies of all the original documents

In some cases, depending on your country of origin, you might need to provide a tuberculosis test. Furthermore, you have not been found guilty of criminal offences or involved in acts of terrorism or war crimes. Last, you’ll need to pay the application fee for your student visa.

Extension of the residence permit

As mentioned before, your residence permit has an expiration date. However, you can apply for an extension if you start a new course or change courses. Be aware that you will need to apply for an extension of your stay since your current residence permit is given out only for the duration of the previous course you’ve been following.

Legalising personal documents

As mentioned before, legalising documents might be necessary for your visa application, registration with the council or (residence) permit. The legalisation process verifies that the document comes from the relevant authority. Furthermore, through this process, the origin of the signature is checked. The signature needs to be from the signatory. After legalisation, the document is considered legally valid by Dutch authorities.
Legalising your documents is unnecessary if your home country signed the Apostille Convention. Only an ‘apostille’ will be necessary. Contact your home country authority to find out how to get an apostille. The website of the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs provides more information on the legalisation of documents.

Where can I legalize my documents?

You’ll have to go to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the country where your document has been issued or visit the Dutch consulate or embassy there.

Nuffic certificate for Chinese students

The Nuffic certificate for Chinese students is given to students considered qualified enough to study in the Netherlands. The students will be assessed in:

  • The obtained degrees and diplomas and their authenticity;
  • Their proficiency in the English language.

The certificate is necessary for applying for a Chinese student residence permit. You can apply on the website of Nuffic, creating an account in the NCAS (Nuffic Certificate Assessment System).

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