‘When I decided to come to the Netherlands, people assured me that I could get some kind of job while studying here. That might be true in theory, but I have found that in reality this is far from easy,’ Orr tells. Because he is from the United States he has to deal with different rules than foreign students from inside Europe. To work he must first have a work permit. ‘It seems impossible for me to get one.’
A foreign student can only get a work permit if he or an employment agency is able to find a company that is willing to apply for the permit. ‘This takes an average of three to five weeks. Companies aren’t interested in that because they can easily find other people to do the work.’
Orr immediately applied for a residence permit when he started in Breda in January 2007. ‘It was after summer break, five months later, that my application was granted.’ Now Orr is finally able to visit employment agencies, because to get a job you must have a residence permit. ‘However, every agency told me the same thing: getting me a job involves too much paperwork. People from Poland are easier for them to outsource, because there’s hardly any administration involved.’
Employment agency Recruit-A-Student isn’t familiar with Orr’s complaints. ‘We should be able to get such a student a job,’ says Micheal Korst of the agency. ‘When a student has a residence permit and can show that he’s following an education in Breda that shouldn’t be a problem.’ The agency employs many students. ‘Mostly they work for us in factories or as cleaners.’
Students need to make a choice between two types of work permits. A temporary permit allows foreign students to work ten hours a week, while the other type of permit enables students to work full time for three months per year. ‘The disadvantage of that option is that students aren’t allowed to work the other nine months of the year,’ says Korst. Many of the Chinese students from Avans are employed through Recruit-A-Student.
The other employment agencies in Breda confirm that they would rather not invest time in obtaining work permits for non-EU citizens. They have enough other people willing to do those jobs. [AR]