You can find some of the most important aspects of pre-departure in the list below. If you have more specific questions, you can always contact us.
You will need a visa to study in the US. You will receive the necessary form, the certificate of eligibility, through your university. If you qualify for a J-1 visa, your university will send you a DS-2019 form. If you qualify for an F-1 visa, you will receive an I-20 form. Now you can start the application process. Follow the instructions sent to you by your university.
If you live in the Netherlands, the American Consulate General in Amsterdam will process your visa application. Follow the instructions for the non-immigrant visa on the consulate’s website. You will be referred to the specific forms. Make sure to carefully read and follow all instructions.
Prior to your appointment, you will need to pay an application fee for the visa itself as well as a SEVIS fee. Bring proof of payment and a picture of you that meets the American passport requirements. It might help to create a list of all documents you need to bring with you to your appointment, such as your original letter of acceptance, a recent bank statement to prove that you can afford your studies, and other relevant information.
Keep in mind that it might take a while before your request is processed if you apply during the summer. You can check the current wait times online. Keep in mind that your passport will be held at the consulate for several days, so don’t plan the appointment right before departure.
You can find up to date information on the website of the consulate. Keep in mind that access to the building is governed by strict security regulations.
Two-year home country physical presence requirement
Students with a J-1 visa may be affected by the two-year home country physical presence requirement, an important requirement of the Exchange Visitor Program from the Department of State (DOS) that applies to several groups of students and researchers who go to the US on a J-1 visa.
The Exchange Visitor Program was established in 1961 from the Mutual Educational and Cultural Exchange Act. Its goal is to promote mutual understanding between citizens from the US and other countries through educational and cultural exchange.
This program is the reason the Fulbright program exists today. Participants are expected to return to their home country for at least two years after their exchange so their countries can profit from their experiences, and the new skills they developed in the US. The measure is meant to counter brain drain.
The two-year requirement applies to anyone studying, researching or teaching in the United States through the Exchange Visitor Program on a J-1 visa while receiving a full or partial scholarship from the American government or their own government. This includes indirect financial support through government institutions.
How do I know if the two-year home is relevant for me?
The stamp you received in your passport and/or on the DS-2019 shows whether or not the two-year requirement applies to you. The consulate employee will decide whether the two-year requirement applies when granting your J-1.
What does the two-year requirement mean for me?
The two-year requirement takes effect directly after your (first) stay in the US and applies to the H (temporary worker) and L (intracompany transferee) visa, and immigration. If one or more of the regulations outlined above apply, J-1 visitors are required to spend two years following their program in their home country. The two-year home requirement does not apply to other visas. Going on holiday, attending a conference, or applying for a different student visa to continue your education in the US will not be restricted by the requirement.
This does mean, however, that you will not be able to accept a job in the US directly after your studies, and cannot apply for a work visa or permanent residency. Once the two years are over, you can continue your career in the US. These requirements also apply in case of marriage to an American citizen.
It is possible to apply for a waiver. These requests are rarely granted, however. You can submit your request at the Washington D.C. embassy. See the Department of State for more information.
International students with no intention of emigration are insured though the Wet langdurige zorg (Wlz), which means that insurance is mandatory, even after deregistration from the Basisregistratie Personen (BRP). This requirement is only waived if you start working abroad. Are you unsure whether the requirement applies to you? Nuffic offers an overview on the website.
Medical care in the US is extremely expensive. Make sure you have insurance coverage for medical costs abroad prior to your departure. Most medical costs are covered based on the costs of health care in the Netherlands itself, so it might be a good idea to purchase additional insurance. For more information, you can contact your insurer and ask about the costs and essential additional insurance to cover the costs in the US.
Care allowance (zorgtoeslag)
As long as you have basic insurance in the Netherlands, you qualify for a care allowance (zorgtoeslag).
Insurance through your American university
Some American universities offer their own mandatory health insurance. If this is not mandatory at your university, you can apply for a health insurance waiver, as long as you can prove that you are covered through your Dutch insurance. Keep in mind that American insurance usually won’t cover all costs in case of repatriation. If you are using your university’s insurance coverage, you might still need to find additional insurance elsewhere.
Next to health insurance, you should consider the following types of insurance:
- Liability insurance (WA verzekering).
- Repatriation and accident insurance
- Legal expenses insurance
Dutch health care and student jobs
If you do get a job in America, you will fall under the first day at work rule: from the first day you work at your (paid) job, your Dutch health care coverage ends. All rights and obligations of the Wlz are forfeit, including your right to basic health insurance coverage, any additional insurance, and care allowances (zorgtoeslag). The SVB can give you more information about whether the Wlz still applies to you. For other questions about health insurance and study abroad, you can contact Zorginstituut Nederland.
Keep in mind that you will only have the rights for basic health insurance upon your return to the Netherlands. Every health insurance provider is free to use its own criteria to decide whether you apply for additional coverage.
Deregistering from the Basisregistratie Personen (BRP)
Anyone who intends to spend 8 months out of a 12-month period abroad is legally required to deregister from the Basisregistratie Personen (BRP). You can deregister up to five days before your departure at the Dienst Burgerzaken at your municipality. They will give you a proof of deregistration (bewijs van uitschrijving). For more information, see the Rijksoverheid.