Science - July 1, 2004

‘Give international students a green card too’

An increasing number of organisations are putting pressure on the Minister for Integration and Immigration, Rita Verdonk, to make the rules for foreign students and guest researchers more flexible. The Higher Education Press published the following article this week as a result of the article in last week’s Wb.

The Innovation Platform (a Dutch government initiative headed by Prime Minister Balkenende) has now made it easier and quicker for knowledge workers (e.g. professors and PhD researchers) from outside the EU to obtain a ‘green card’ permitting them to stay and conduct their activities here in the Netherlands. These people are then spared the sticky route of residence permit procedures imposed by the Immigration and Naturalisation Service (IND). This rule however, only applies to those with a minimum income of 45,000 euros or higher. PhD students, postdoctorates and university lecturers who are younger than thirty are also exempted from the income requirement.

Students and interns from abroad are not covered by the new regulations. They are still faced with the original situation: they are given a residence permit for a year, that then has to be renewed each year, creating an administrative nightmare. Foreign guest researchers with a grant from their own country also encounter the same problems.

Eleven organisations including the VSNU (Association of Universities in the Netherlands), VNO-NCW (Confederation of Netherlands Industry and Employers), the HBO Council, ISO (national student body) and LSVb (national student union) have signed a letter to Minister Verdonk. They consider the presence of foreign students here important for the development of the knowledge economy, and this group should therefore also be included in the ‘green card’ rule. The signatories have requested a meeting with the minister at short notice. The umbrella organisations have also indicated that they are prepared to take partial responsibility for the groups that are currently excluded from eligibility.

The current cabinet is not the first to try to come to a satisfactory arrangement for foreign knowledge workers. The previous two cabinets also made attempts, but to no avail. Verdonk has not yet replied to the letter. |HOP, S.v.O

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