Do you have an asylum residence permit? Then you are allowed to work in the Netherlands, and you have the same rights and obligations as Dutch citizens. That’s why your permit says 'work freely allowed, work permit not required'. By working in the Netherlands you are an active part of Dutch society. You build a network and make a contribution to society, and you learn to speak the Dutch language better.

VOORwerk is offered at various COA reception centers. VOORwerk allows you to expand your knowledge and competences during the training, during individual coaching sessions with the casemanager, and through a practical unpaid work experience. The programme increases your chances of working in the Netherlands.

Are you currently following the VOORwerk training or have you already followed it? Do you want to find a paid job, set up your own company, do an internship or volunteer in the Netherlands? Here you will find all information about working in the Netherlands. Most pages are only available in Dutch and English, this means that you may need help to understand the information properly. The information on these websites is also important if you no longer live in the COA reception center. The more you speak Dutch, the more you will understand.

If you still have questions after reading the information on this website, you can send an email to (link sends e-mail) or contact your contact person at COA.


How do we work in the Netherlands? This is explained in these videos. With information about the sectors in which the most work can be found, where to start when looking for a job, how to apply for a job and about the Dutch work culture. Two newcomers also talk about their way to work in the Netherlands.

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Paid work

With your residence permit, you can occupy a paid job like all Dutch citizens. If you still live in a COA reception center and have a paid job, you must pay COA for part of the money you earn. This way you pay for the costs of the childcare. For information about the level of the personal contribution, you always ask your COA contact person. Below you will find an overview of links with more information about working in the Netherlands:

Beroepen in Beeld (externe link)

Beroepen in Beeld offers information about all practical professions. On this website you will find videos and descriptions of these professions, but also information about the Dutch labour market.

Dress for Success (externe link)

It is important to be well dressed during a job interview. That is why the volunteer organization Dress for Success supports people with a minimum income. Dress for Success can help you to dress well for your job interview and increase your chances of getting a job.

Kans op werk (externe link)

On this website you can look up the professions with which you have a good chance of finding work according to Dutch regions.

Studieperspectief (externe link)

Do you want to know whether you can easily find a job in the Netherlands with your profession? Do you want to know with which study you have the best chances of finding work? On this website you can see the opportunities for employment per education and per region.

Refugee Start Force (externe link)

In the Facebook groups and LinkedIn page of Refugee Start Force, you can easily get in touch with Dutch professionals and volunteers in your area. That way you can build a network and improve your Dutch. You can participate in joint activities and are kept informed of interesting projects and vacancies.

Refugee Talent Hub (externe link)

Refugee Talent Hub is an online platform where refugees are matched with employers. You can upload your CV and make a selection of mentors and trainings.

UAF JobSupport (externe link)

Do you already have a Dutch HBO diploma or a university degree, and speak Dutch (almost) at level B2? Then you can register with UAF Jobsupport for help with finding a job.

Werk (externe link)

This website is for anyone looking for work in the Netherlands. Through this website you can search for vacancies, apply for a job, and apply for a benefit at the UWV.

Werkwijzer Vluchtelingen (externe link)

On this website you will find a lot of information about working and studying in the Netherlands. You will also find examples of organizations and projects that help permit holders to find work.

Wetten en regels voor werken in Nederland (externe link)

In this section of the Werkwijzer Vluchtenlingen you will find a summary of the rules that apply to refugees and the labour market. You will also find links to information from the Dutch government.

Gain work experience through a paid work placement

A paid work placement is a temporary job where you get the chance to know an organization and the work culture within that organization. You have the opportunity to discover if a job suits you. You get the chance to expand your network, develop your skills, and gain work experience. You get an employment contract, and earn the minimum wage at least. A paid work experience placement can help you to get a job after.

Werkwijzer Vluchtelingen (externe link)

On this website you will find an example of paid work experience places, such as those offered by the Dutch Railways.

Gain work experience through an internship

An internship is a good preparation for a job. Through an internship you can learn much, gain experience, and discover how it is to work in the Netherlands. During an internship you will work for a specific period of time in an organization. The most important is to learn, so payment is low. However, you may be reimbursed for costs you need to make as part of your work.

There are several organizations that can help you find an internship.

Leerwerkloket (externe link)

The Leerwerkloket offers advice on learning and working in the Netherlands. You can go there for an overview of internships, personal advice, and organizations that can help you find an internship or study.

Stagestraat (externe link)

Stagestraat helps permit holders in municipalities to find an internship. In the Stagestraat you can do an internship for 4 days a week during 6 months, in the sectors of retail, hospitality or services.

There are also temporary projects aimed at guiding permit holders to the labour market. These sometimes also offer internships:

K!X Works (externe link)

K!X Works helps young refugees and newcomers to find a study, internship or job. By offering one year of supervision, refugees receive training in social and employee skills, how to build a network, and how education and the Dutch labour market work. Feel free to ask your COA casemanager whether K!X Works is active in your COA reception center.

Vluchtelingen Investeren in Participeren (VIP) (externe link)

Vluchtelingen Investeren in Participeren is a project to prepare refugees for work. Vluchtenlingenwerk, employers, trainers and the local government are involved. Feel free to ask your COA casemanager if this project is active in the municipality where you will live.

Building a network also helps you find internship opportunities:

Refugee Start Force (externe link)

In the Facebook groups of Refugee Start Force you can easily get in touch with Dutch professionals and volunteers in your area. That way you can build a network and improve your Dutch. You will also find information about internships in these groups, and are free to make a call yourself if you are looking for an internship.

Volunteer work

Volunteering is a good way to get to know the work culture in the Netherlands. It allows you to learn how people in the Netherlands interact with each other on the work floor. You furthermore have the opportunity of making new contacts, building your resume and practicing the Dutch language. Voluntary work is appreciated in the Netherlands. You receive no salary for it, but you make an important contribution to your living environment. Sometimes you get an expense allowance. Many activities would not be able to continue were there no volunteers!

You can work as a volunteer at social organizations and institutions such as a community center, the football club, the church or a retirement home. The VOORwerk casemanager can give you information about volunteering close to your COA reception center. If you have already completed the VOORwerk training, you can use the skills you learned and develop them by volunteering.

Below you will find more information about volunteering in your region.

The programme Aan de Slag (externe link) gives you the opportunity to do volunteer work in the municipality. Ask your casemanager if your COA reception center also offers opportunities through Aan de Slag, or look on the website (external link) for more information.

On the website Vrijwilliger&werk (externe link) you can find a list of online job boards for volunteer work. On the website Ik wil vrijwilligerswerk doen (externe link) you can search for volunteer work. You can search for vacancies by organization, municipality or type of work.

There is also a volunteer center in various areas where you can sign up to volunteer. The contact details of the volunteer center in your area can be obtained from the VOORwerk casemanager.

Start your own business

In addition to paid work, internships or volunteer work, you can also start your own business. With your own company, you are your own boss, and you can organize your working hours yourself. Setting up your own company requires a lot of work. Several things are needed, such as a business plan, a location, starting capital, promotional materials, administration, and you need to be aware of what your rights and obligations are, such as taxes for example.

Below you will find links for information about starting your own company.

Kamer van Koophandel (externe link)

You can go to the Chamber of Commerce for information and advice about doing business and starting your own business.

Ondernemersklankbord (externe link)

For support and advice on starting your own business you can contact a consultant of the Ondernemersklankbord (entrepreneur soundboard) in your area. (externe link)

If you want to start your own company, you will find on this site all information about legislation, tax rules or subsidies.

UAF training voor startende ondernemers (externe link)

The UAF guides higher educated refugees with their studies and in finding a suitable job. For UAF students (or UAF alumni) who want to become independent entrepreneurs, the UAF organizes a special training of one year.

Qredits (externe link)

At Qredits you can apply for financing for your business. You can also go there for information and advice.

Cordaid (externe link)

Cordaid offers coaching and advice in setting up cooperative initiatives. These are initiatives that are set up by several people together. Cordaid helps to develop a good concept and to write a business plan. The organization can also help by increasing the network or offering a starting capital.

Employment Agencies

An employment agency helps people that look for work, and helps companies that look for people. To find work through an employment agency, you must first register. If you find work through an employment agency, it is usually temporary work. As soon as you find work through an employment agency, you are a temporary worker and you have a contract with the temporary employment agency and not with the company where you work. You are paid by the employment agency and not directly by your employer. The employment agency is an intermediary between you and the employer.

Manpower (externe link)

Manpower is an employment agency that can help you find work in the Netherlands. You can register at Manpower and you can go there for advice on working. On the Manpower website you will find a search engine for vacancies, training opportunities and career tips.

OTTO Work Force (externe link)

OTTO Work Force is the largest international employment agency in Europe, and links refugees to companies. For refugees, OTTO Work Force usually offers jobs in sectors such as horticulture, logistics or the cleaning industry.

Randstad (externe link)

Randstad is a large well-known temporary employment agency in the Netherlands. Randstad’s employees can give advice and try to find a good match between refugees and organizations that need people. Randstad also offers job application and career tips, as well as various online tests to assess your personality and intelligence. On the website you can find vacancies per region, per discipline and per level of education.