State to appeal against court ruling freeing refugee to work


The social affairs ministry and state jobs agency UWV have said they will appeal against a recent court ruling which said an asylum seeker can work more than 24 weeks a year while waiting for his claim to be processed.

A month ago judges in Arnhem ruled that a 25-year-old asylum seeker from Nigeria should be allowed to work more than the permitted 24 weeks a year and that the state jobs agency UWV should give him a new work permit.

The man, known as Elvis, fled with his girlfriend in 2020 and was living in a refugee centre in Harderwijk when he found work in a nearby slaughterhouse.

Under current rules, asylum seekers who have not been given residency permits are not allowed to work more than 24 weeks a year so that they do not get the idea that their request for refugee status will be honoured. They also have to wait nine months before being allowed to work at all.

The court ruled that the current situation in the Netherlands is at odds with European rules which say asylum seekers should have access to the jobs market, so that they become self-sufficient and are better integrated into society.

The social affairs ministry said it was appealing to get “clarity from the highest court”.

The lower court ruling was so far reaching that the law had been declared invalid, a ministry spokesman told broadcaster NOS. “This is the reason to go to appeal.”

At the same time, the ministry said, “we are looking at the obstacles which asylum seekers experience when entering the jobs market, including the 24-week requirement.”

Some 52,000 refugees are currently living in government accommodation, including 16,000 with the right to stay and work in the Netherlands.

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