Apply for an orientation year

Did you just graduate and get your graduate, bachelor's or master's degree? Extend your stay in Belgium by applying for a search year.

From 15 August, it's possible to extend your stay in Belgium by a maximum of 12 months if:

  • you have just graduated in Belgium and you have a graduate, bachelor's, master's or PhD degree in your pocket. 
  • you have obtained a diploma abroad and followed a mobility program (e.g. Erasmus Mundus) in Belgium. 

This so-called 'orientation year' should give you time to look for work after your studies or to start up an independent business in Belgium.

When do you apply?

You're a graduate student in Belgium: apply for an orientation year at the latest 15 days before the expiry date of your residence card (A card).

You followed a mobility program in Belgium: submit your application for an orientation year within 3 months after obtaining the foreign diploma.
 

How do you apply?

Send your application to internationalstudent@stad.gent and enclose the following documents:

  • Valid passport
  • A passport photo
  • A copy of your current residence card
  • Diploma or proof that you have passed at a recognized Belgian college or university
    OR If you followed a mobility program in Belgium: diploma foreign educational institution and proof of residence in Belgium (e.g. Belgian residence document or mobility program registration certificate)
  • Health insurance (e.g. certificate of a Belgian health insurance company - "attest van aansluiting")
  • Proof of financial means through:
    • A formal obligation (Annex 32).
    • Blocked account at a higher education institution (679 euros per month)
    • Own means of subsistence: e.g. employment contract for the coming search year

What happens next?

After your application, you will receive an annex 15 pending your new residence card when your current residence card expires. With this annex 15 you can work without limitations and also submit an application for a single permit.

After a positive decision from the federal Immigration Office, you will receive an A card for 12 months. The period covered with an annex 15 will be deducted from these 12 months. With the A card you can work without any limitations.

An extension of the A card on the basis of an orientation year is not possible.