At the moment, U.S. citizens do not need a visa to get into The Netherlands, or rather, you are automatically granted a 3-month tourist visa as you enter the Schengen countries. The 26 European countries which have to date signed the Schengen Agreement do not (always) patrol internal borders, so on entry into any one of them, you will receive a stamp in your passport. From the date of this stamp you may remain within the Schengen countries for 3 months as a tourist. However, if you come for study or research you need to apply for a residence permit (see below). At the time of writing this, changes in the immigrations laws are planned on being implemented this summer (2013), so always check with your host and the Fulbright Center what the current status is.
In the new system that will most likely be implemented in the summer of 2013, your host institution acts as your visa sponsor. The institution has to apply for your residence permit on your behalf before your arrival, and will need to receive certain documentation from you to do so. Your contact person at the university or institute at which you are affiliated may not be aware of all the procedures so check with them (and if needed the Fulbright Center) well before entering the Netherlands. The required documents will likely include: your passport, birth certificates for you and any accompanying family members with apostilles, and, if applicable, a marriage license. A particularity of the Dutch bureaucratic system is that regular copies of birth certificates and marriage licenses are not sufficient. You’ll need to acquire these documents with an apostille or stamp, from the Secretary of State Office, in your state, before you depart.
The residence permit for an adult costs €300. The host will most likely need to pay this on your behalf prior to your arrival. If you are a Fulbright grantee, these costs will be reimbursed by the Fulbright Center for you, but not for any dependents traveling with you. For more information, please check the following websites.
Visa/Registration information Websites
Immigration Procedures for Academic Visitors