All you need to know about finding a job in Utrecht during and after your studies

Did you know that a foreign student from a European country earns the Netherlands 5 to 17 thousand euros, and a student from outside Europe from 69 to 94 thousand euros? However, this is only true if a graduated student works in the Netherlands after his or her studies. If an international student returns to his or her own country, this only costs the Netherlands money due to tuition subsidies. So when an employer prefers Dutch employees, you can tell them that they are damaging the Dutch economy.

Even though most international students are eligible for student loans from the Dutch government, working a part-time job besides your studies has multiple benefits. Not only will you earn some pocket money, it is also an easy way to build a network and make friends in your new environment.


However, most international students have difficulty finding a job, both during and after their studies. One student from Colombia even said that: “It sometimes feels like the government does not want non EEA people to work and puts hurdles so it becomes harder for them to find a job.” These hurdles for non-EEA students include the limit of 16 working hours per week, a 5-7 week process to get a work permit, and the constant insecurity that your residence permit might end on short notice whenever the government decides, upon which you must reapply for both permits again. During the reapplication, the non-EEA students cannot legally work to sustain themselves. This also puts pressure on the employers, because they might randomly lose their valuable employees for a few weeks. They must be willing to take that risk. “I also only got my jobs because my employers knew me for a year at least and they actively chose to hire me because I directly asked them if they could”, one student commented. Making connections and being assertive in your environment, for example in your local coffee bar, definitely creates opportunities.

Not only non-EEA students experience problems when finding a job. The language barrier can pose difficulties when finding a job. Especially in restaurants or bars, which are usually the places to get in contact with new people, language is important. Fortunately, most Dutch people in large cities speak English, and we created a list with restaurants that are open to international employees, which you can find at the bottom of this blog. Other, less-contact intensive jobs include (bike)delivery jobs such as Deliveroo, Thuisbezorgd, Gorrillas, and Coolblue. You can find different kind of part-time and full-time job offers for internationals here.


The language barrier can remain a problem after graduation. One employer of a sustainability start-up company in Utrecht commented that he was reluctant to hire internationals. He has many clients among the farmers in the East of the Netherlands who very often don’t speak English. That the language barrier poses such a problem after graduation is in contradiction with the fact that more than 60% of studies at Dutch universities is taught in English. So it is attractive for international students to come to the Netherlands, but not to stay here for work. Recently, there’s been quite some debate in the academic world whether universities should go back to teaching in Dutch. This corresponds with the governments aim to better regulate the amount of international students in the Netherlands, reduce pressure on Dutch higher education, and maintain the quality. Even though Dutch is generally considered a difficult language to learn, doing so would be a good way to increase your chances on the job market, both during and after your studies.


Other ways of improving your job-chances might appeal more to you. As a student, you don’t need a permit to do internships, which set you up for work after graduation. One Greek student stated that it was very easy for him to get a job with the company where he did an internship after being able to showcase his skill and value for a few months.


If your internships were less successful, another opportunity is the “Zoekjaar” visa. “Zoekjaar” means “search year”, because it is set up to give non-EEA international students some time and space to search for a job after their studies. (If you’re an EEA international student, you don’t need a visa to work in the Netherlands.) To be eligible for a Zoekyear visa, you must have obtained an academic diploma in the Netherlands, and it costs 174 euros. It is important to connect and engage with future employers during this year, because you need a highly skilled migrant visa to work, which costs about 320 euros. In order to get this visa, your employer needs to sign your contract beforehand, apply on your behalf, and sponsor you. They are also obliged to pay you at least the reduced salary criterion of €2,497 per month [2021]. The more transparent you are and the better your relationship with your employer, the easier it is for you to acquire a highly skilled migrant visa, so invest in employer-employee relationships during your Zoekjaar. After the request, it takes the IND (Immigration and Naturalisation service) usually about 2 to 4 weeks to decide on the visa. The requirements and other aspects of the highly skilled migrant visa are described in this source.


During a Zoekjaar, finding a part-time job is even more important than during your studies, since you’re not eligible for a student-loan anymore, you still need to be self-sufficient, and there is no longer a limit on the amount of hours that you can work. Other requirements, such as health-insurance, are listed here.


In summary, it seems that the current Dutch work environment is not easy to navigate nor facilitating for international students. But dear internationals, please do not be discouraged by this. Learning Dutch and being assertive in your local environment might create strong opportunities for you. When you finally get hired, even if it’s “just a parttime job”, you can be very proud of accomplishing such a feat against all odds.


Restaurants/cafes that hire internationals in East Utrecht (near the University College campus and The Uithof)

  • Noen
  • Chris Lunch and Snacks
  • La Lotta
  • Pizza Beppe


In the city centre:

  • Tiger Mama
  • Kimmade
  • La Fontana
  • Vegitalian
  • Coffee Bar Ludwig
  • Anan Saigon
  • The Street Food Club

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