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Study in Netherlands: student visa application process and checklist

Socially progressive, densely-packed and laced with picturesque canals, the Netherlands is often called ‘the gateway to Europe.’ A report by Nuffic revealed that there were 94,236 international students enrolled in full-time degree programs in the Netherlands by 2019.


12.3 percent of all student population in the Netherlands were international students during the 2019/2020 academic year, with more than 72 percent coming from an EEA country and over 27 percent from a non-EEA country.


Dutch student visa requirements vary more significantly than those of most other nations depending on your country of origin, but in all cases, the process is quite straightforward once you know what’s required. To enter the Netherlands for study purposes, you might need a visa and/or a residence permit.


Your need for a visa or not depends on:


  • your nationality – as stated on your passport;
  • the duration of your stay: shorter or longer than 90 days;
  • your purpose of stay


Tuition fees vary, depending on the subject and level of the programme. Bachelor’s programmes tend to cost less than a master’s programmes. The average fee for a master’s programme is 12,000 EUR per year.


Your institution needs to apply:


When you enrol in a study programme, your host institution will contact you to start up the application procedure. If not, ask for help by contacting the international office of your host institution.


Start preparations early:


Although the general visa process of the applicant is quite fast, it is recommended that you start the process early. It may take some time for you to collect all the relevant documents for your institution.


All visa applications will require the following:


  • Admittance into a full-time university programme
  • Demonstration of sufficient funds to cover your living expenses
  • A valid passport


The Application Procedure:


Once you submit your visa and/or residence permit application to the Dutch Immigration Department (IND), you’ll need to wait four to six weeks for it to be processed. Following this, you’ll need to collect your official visa from a Dutch embassy or consulate. Student residency permits are granted for three months beyond the duration of your study programme.


Most students will need an entry visa called a Provisional Residence Permit, or ‘Machtiging tot Voorlopig Verblifj’ (MVV) in Dutch. This MVV will allow you to enter the Netherlands at any point within the following six months. To stay in the country for the duration of your study programme you’ll need a Residence Permit. The MVV is proof of your eligibility as a Dutch resident: when you enter the Netherlands under this permit, you’re seen to do so as a potential resident rather than a tourist.


To qualify for an MVV visa, you’ll need:


  • A valid passport, and at least one photocopy of the passport photo page
  • Proof you have sufficient financial means to support yourself during the course of your studies, set by the Dutch Ministry of Justice to be at least €850 per month.
  • Bank statement and scholarship letters are accepted.
  • A completed MVV form
  • Agree to undergo a medical test for tuberculosis within three months of arriving in the Netherlands. Some nationalities are exempt from this.
  • Proof of insurance
  • Proof of provisional acceptance to study at a recognized institution in the Netherlands


In order for your visa status to remain valid, you will need to make sure you’re awarded at least 50% of your study credits each year. If there is a special circumstance such as an illness that has prevented you from doing so, you can contact your host’s student services to see if you’re eligible for special consideration.


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