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Netherlands Student Visa Requirements

In the last decade, prospective international students have been looking at alternative destinations than traditional locations such as the UK and US. One such country is seeing a rising demand by overseas students in the Netherlands. The rise has been so substantial that Dutch universities achieved a new record high in 2018/19 of over 85,000 degree-level students, representing an increase of 12% on the previous year. Of the bachelor programmes available to international students in the Netherlands, nearly 60% are offered in Dutch exclusively, and nearly 30% are in English. It is, therefore, easy to see the appeal of Dutch universities as the language barrier is reduced for many. The proportion of courses taught in English does fall, however, when it comes to master’s programmes at research universities and applied science.

Where Do Most International Students in the Netherlands Originate from?

Nearly three-quarters of international students in the Netherlands originate from countries in the European Union. For the year 2018/19, the breakdown was as follows:

  • Germany – 22,584
  • Italy – 4,814
  • China – 4,547
  • Belgium – 3,620
  • UK – 3,383
  • Bulgaria – 3,126
  • Greece – 2,947
  • Romania – 2,937
  • France – 2,759
  • Spain – 2,695

Interestingly, Italy has become the fastest-growing market for international students in the Netherlands and has now surpassed China which previously held second place. The number of students from Germany, while high, has actually dropped considerably from representing 45.5% of all international students in the Netherlands to 26.3%.

Following graduation, around a quarter of international students remain in the Netherlands, but it is the non-EEA students who tend to stay longer and contribute more economically in the long term.

What are the Eligibility Criteria for a Student Visa in the Netherlands?

According to the Immigration and Naturalisation Service (INS) of the Netherlands, foreign nationals who wish to study need to apply for a residence permit. You will need to meet the following conditions:

  • You must have provisionally been accepted by a university or university of applied sciences as a student to a full-time accredited day programme.
  • The university offering you a place of study must be a recognised sponsor. A full list of recognised educational institutions is listed in the Public Register of Recognised Sponsors.
  • You have an ‘independent sufficient and sustainable income’.
  • You must receive at least 50% of the required credits for each academic year (this is referred to as ‘study progress monitoring’).

Meeting the ‘independent sufficient and sustainable income’ requirement

When submitting your application for a residence permit to study in the Netherlands, you will need to demonstrate that you have sufficient money to live and study in the country. The amount you will need is referred to as the ‘study norm’. The amount of study norm is set as the same amount that local Dutch students receive in study benefit when they are living in a dorm (this does not include the cost of school or college fees). The amount is altered each year on 1st January. The study norm for 2020 is:

  • Higher professional education or university - ?€ 897.56
  • Secondary education or senior secondary vocational education ?- € 737.07

Meeting the study progress requirement

The idea of study progress monitoring it to ensure that only those students who are making enough progress can retain their study visa. Those who do not maintain a certain standard of progress each year may have their permit revoked.

Your educational provider in the Netherlands is tasked with monitoring whether you have maintained sufficient credits to keep your residence permit each year. This process must be completed by the end of each November based on your results from your previous academic year.

If you do not meet the 50% credit target, the education provider may provide an explanation if they believe there is a valid excuse for not doing so. Such reasons may include:

  • illness
  • physical or sensory impairment or other functional disorder
  • pregnancy
  • exceptional family circumstances
  • board duties
  • the inability to study

If this is not the case, then the education provider must then deregister you as a student. The INS will inform you of the de-registration, and may then cancel your residence permit. If you still wish to remain in the Netherlands, you will then need to apply for a new residence permit.

Additional Time to Prepare for Study in the Netherlands

The INS will allow a ‘one-time’ period of leave of up to one year if you need time to prepare to start your education, e.g. if you need to pass a particular course required as a condition of your offer of a place. This may also apply if you need to complete a Dutch or English language course. Furthermore, if you are advancing from a degree to a master’s level programme, you can use this 12-month period to prepare.

Do I need to pass an English Language Test if my Course is Taught in English?

Yes, if your course is to be taught in English, you must pass or have passed the following IELTS score:

  • If you start your education immediately: IELTS 6.0
  • If you have a preparatory period of a maximum period of 12 months: IELTS 5.0
  • If you have a preparatory period of a maximum period of 6 months: IELTS 5.5

In addition to IELTS, it may also be possible to complete an English language test provided by TOEFL, TOEIC or Cambridge English.

How Much Does it Cost to Apply for a Residence Permit for Study in the Netherlands?

The application fee is currently set at € 174.

Wrapping up

Study in the Netherlands is becoming increasingly popular with international students. It is easy to see why; it is safe, has a relatively low cost of living, has a high quality of education, and provides many degree-level courses in English. It also provides a gateway into the EU while studying and also following graduation. And crucially, from an immigration perspective, the application process for a residence permit to allow you to study is straightforward and inexpensive. We wish you the best with your studies in the Netherlands. For legal assistance to ease your student visa application process, get in touch with our experienced immigration solicitors.

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