These are difficult times for jobseekers. The coronavirus crisis has put thousands of jobs at risk, and a recession is inevitable according to the Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis (CPB).

This has put students from outside the European Union in a pretty pickle. If they want to stay in the Netherlands after graduation, they can apply for a special residence visa: the ‘zoekjaar hoogopgeleiden’ (‘job-seeking year for highly qualified graduates’) permit. This gives them one year of respite to find work. If they strike out, they are unfortunately required to leave.


But due to the coronavirus crisis, a lot of companies are currently wary about hiring: they prefer to wait until all the turmoil is behind us. Moreover, some international graduates have already entered their job-seeking year, but have been let go in response to the crisis.

The administrators and alumni of Wittenborg University of Applied Sciences have sounded the alarm about this problem. Couldn’t the Immigration and Naturalisation Service extend the job-seeking term from 1 to 2 years, asks the university board in a letter to the ministers of Justice, Education and Social Affairs.


Talented non-EU students presently aren’t given a ‘fair chance’ to find a job in the Netherlands, in the view of the board. “It is important that we hold on to this group, since they are precisely the people who can make a significant contribution to the recovery and reinforcement of the Dutch economy.” Alumni of the private university of applied sciences have set up a petition, which has already gained nearly 700 signatures.

No goodwill scheme

A spokesperson of the Ministry of Justice and Security confirms that at present there is no goodwill scheme for this group of graduates. “The ‘zoekjaar hoogopgeleiden’ residence visa is issued for one year. Based on current regulations it cannot yet be extended.”