Apply for an orientation year

Almost graduated as a non-EEA student at Ghent University? Eager to enter the job market? Apply for an orientation year in Belgium!

What is an orientation year?

According to the EU Directive 2016/801, third country (non-EEA) students or researchers may stay on the territory of a member state for a period of max. 12 months. While waiting for an English translation on the website of the Belgian immigration office, you can find information on the

From 15 August 2021, it is possible to extend your stay in Belgium by max. 12 months if:
You just graduated as a Bachelor, Master, PhD or completed a research project in Belgium.
You obtained a diploma abroad and followed a mobility program in Belgium.

    The goal of this new residence status is that you, during this so-called 'orientation year' (zoekjaar) actively look for a job (in Belgium). “Actively looking for a job” can mean both finding a job with a (Belgian) company, or setting up a business of your own (in Belgium).

    When do you apply?

    • At the latest 15 days before the expiry date of your residence card (A card)
    • Within 3 month after obtaining the foreign diploma if you followed a mobility program in Belgium.

    How do you apply?

    Send your application to and enclose the following documents:

    • Valid passport
    • A copy of your current student residence permit
    • Proof that you have passed at Ghent 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)
    • Proof of financial means (always for the whole year) through:
      • A commitment that charge has been taken from a Belgian or foreign guarantor (Annex 32)
      • Blocked account at UGent (procedure)
      • Own means of subsistence: e.g. employment contract for coming orientation 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.
    An extension of the A card on the basis of the orientation year is not possible.

    During orientation year

    The government might ask for proof of you either (trying to) looking for a job, or setting up a business. In case you are not able to provide any proof of your efforts in this regard, it might result in an earlier and forced ending of your ‘orientation year’.