Tuesday 26 January 2021

Graduates appeal to government for visa extension because of corona

The IND offices in The Hague. Photo: Depositphotos.com

Hundreds of foreign students looking for jobs in the Netherlands have asked the government for a visa extension because of the economic impact of coronavirus.

Yuven Muniandy, who recently graduated with a PhD in biology from Leiden University, has written to the immigration service and justice ministry on behalf of hundreds of worried students.

They are currently on an ‘orientation year’ visa, which is granted to recent non-EU students for a year and allows the applicant to live and work in the country, while applying for career jobs. The visa is also given to students from 200 top international universities.

‘Last November I graduated from Leiden and applied for an orientation year,’ says Muniandy. ‘The main goal is to promote foreign investment and cultivate diversity in the Dutch job market. If you don’t get any job in the year, you go back, but with the coronavirus situation, companies and institutions have frozen recruitment: no-one is hiring.’

He started a petition online, which has been signed by more than 550 people with similar worries, and has linked up with students running a Facebook group telling similar stories.

They say that some neighbouring countries have extended the period of time students have to find a permanent job, due to the impact of the coronavirus on the jobs market. Seven recent graduates, including Muniandy, have now written to the IND and Dutch justice ministry asking the Netherlands to do the same.

Muniandy, who is 36 and from Malaysia, said that the visa exists to broaden experience and entrepreneurialism in the Netherlands and this is at risk at the moment.

‘We have different backgrounds and diverse education, and we can contribute to the economy in the Netherlands,’ he said. ‘After the coronavirus, the economy will suffer very badly and as international students, we can contribute to its growth. If the government extends the visa, we will be working our part time jobs and job hunting: it is a win-win situation.’

Other non-EU recent students have told the NOS that they invested tens of thousands of euros in their studies in the Netherlands and would be feverishly job hunting – if all interviews were not postponed or cancelled.

A spokeswoman from the ministry of justice told DutchNews.nl that the orientation visa situation is currently not being investigated. ‘At the moment there are no plans to change it,’ she said.

Research published by the government’s CPB think-tank last year showed that around 30% of non-EU foreign students remain in the Netherlands after graduation.

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