International graduates from non-EU countries are requesting an extension of the zoekjaar visa. ‘Because of Covid-19, most companies have stopped hiring.’
© Kaavya Raveendran
Many international WUR-graduates from non-EU countries extend their stay in the Netherlands by applying for a ‘Zoekjaar’ visa. This visa grants them twelve months to find a job and start a career here. If they get a job, they can stay in the Netherlands.
Former Resource blogger Kaavya Raveendran graduated in August 2019 with an MSc in Food Technology. She returned to India for a couple of months and then came back to the Netherlands on a zoekjaar visa in January 2020, with the plan to find a job and start her career here. ‘Due to the coronavirus pandemic, finding a job has become more difficult.’
Twelve precious months
‘The problem is that the zoekjaar visa has already started,’ Raveendran says. ‘A zoekjaar is a precious period of twelve months. Many companies now have a hiring freeze and have withdrawn vacancies they posted before the pandemic. In the current situation, time is not on our side. The job market is standing still, but the clock keeps ticking.’
Together with other recent graduates on a zoekjaar visa, Raveendran is trying to draw more attention to the issue. ‘This situation has never happened before, which makes it complex. The only real solution is an extension of the zoekjaar visa. If we get enough time, most of us are perfectly capable of finding good jobs.’
The graduates have started a petition on www.verlengzoekjaarvisum.petities.nl, asking the Dutch House of Representatives to extend the zoekjaar visa.