Doing volunteer work outside the reception centre

Asylum seekers are allowed to do volunteer work. This doesn't require a work permit for third-country nationals (TWV). For example, work in a community centre or taking the elderly for walks. This allows them to get work experience, learn the language, and connect with Dutch people. They discuss the options to participate in the neighbourhood with their case manager, and look for vacancies at the 'Meedoen-balie' in the reception centre. 

Statement of volunteering

When asylum seekers don't have a residence permit yet, the Employee Insurance Agency (UWV) assesses whether the work that is being carried out is indeed volunteer work. For this, the organisation must request a statement of volunteering from the UWV.

Self-reliance: doing volunteer work in the reception centre

Residents can also do volunteer work in the reception centre, also called 'self-reliance'. For example cleaning the common areas, maintaining the buildings or garden, or supervising the open learning centre. This can be done up to 25 hours a week. Asylum seekers receive a small payment for their voluntary work: € 0.56 to € 1.10 per hour, with a € 14 cap per week.

  • Een bewoner maakt de recreatieruimte van azc Dronten schoon
    © Inge van Mill

Doing paid work during stay in the reception centre

Status holders have the same rights and obligations as Dutch citizens and are allowed to work full time. Asylum seekers without a residence permit may do paid work 24 weeks a year. Employers must have a work permit for third-country nationals (TWV) to employ asylum seekers. The Employee Insurance Agency (UWV) will issue this permit if an asylum application process has lasted at least 6 months.

Asylum seekers who have an own income or funds can still make use of COA reception. In that case, they do have to pay an own contribution to the reception costs. This is laid down in the Reba regulation

The COA brings residents into contact with employers, but we do not act as an intermediary. Residents can, however, ask us for advice about writing a curriculum vitae.

© Kick Smeets

Offering volunteer work and paid work

Employing newcomers can have a lot of advantages for a company. For instance, newcomers are known for their great perseverance. Would you like to offer residents of a reception centre volunteer work, a work placement, an internship, or paid employment in your organisation? We are happy to explore the options with you. 

Send an email

Participation case managers: finding activities

The COA employs 12 participation case managers. They support the reception centres in their region and find participation activities for aylum seekers and status holders. Think about volunteer jobs, for instance at sports clubs, volunteer organisations and care institutions.