Student visa & permits

In case you’re moving to the Netherlands to study, for an internship, research project or (voluntary) work, you might need a visa. A distinction can be made between singly 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?

If a visa or work permit is required depends on your personal situation:

  • What’s 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?

Nationals 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 following options exist.

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 all of the other 26 Schengen countries (within a 180-day period, 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 only.

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 the 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, for a holiday or other purposes, in different Schengen countries? In that case, you can apply for your visa at the consulate or embassy of the country concerning your main travel purpose, for example, the country where you will be studying. If this is the same for more countries, apply in 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?

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

  • You’ll receive an acceptance letter; you will need that to apply for your visa. If your institution doesn’t contact you automatically, you can contact the international office.
  • Make sure to start all preparations as early as possible, although the IND (Immigration and Naturalisation Service) is usually quite fast (the time to process will take about 1 month). The moment your university or other institution will receive a letter of approval from the IND, you will be contacted.
  • 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 and/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 temporary stay (MVV), you are allowed to enter the Netherlands for 6 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).
Just like the student visa, your educational institution will take care of 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 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 but not least, you’ll need to pay the application fee for your student visa (€192,- in 2021).

Extension of the residence permit

As mentioned before, your residence permit has an expiration date. You can however apply for an extension in case you started a new course or changed 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, the legalisation of documents might be necessary for your visa application, registration with the council or (residence) permit. The process of legalisation simply verifies that the document comes from the relevant authority. Furthermore, through this process, the origin of the signature is checked. The signature obviously needs to be from the signatory. After legalisation, the document is considered legally valid by Dutch authorities.
The legalisation of your documents is not necessary 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 out to students that are 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 the application for a residence permit for Chinese students. You can apply on the website of Nuffic, creating an account in the NCAS (Nuffic Certificate Assessment System). On the website Studyinholland you can find an overview of the documents required for the Nuffic Certificate.

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