Improved service for internationals at Utrecht City Office

New information center for internationals will be situated in Utrecht City Office. Foto Flickr / Victor van Werkhooven, fotoserie: Utrecht bij nacht

Currently, international students and employees can visit the Expat Center in "het Stadskantoor" near Utrecht Central Station. The center is also where they can take care of the formalities surrounding visas, residence permits, and registration with the municipality. They can also receive information on housing, health services, and other practical things.

The Expat Center, however, has limited opening hours: the office is only open two days a week. On top of that, the separate service desks are spread out over multiple floors. Not exactly ideal service for the region’s international students and employees – especially considering the expectation of the Economic Board Utrecht that until 2030, the size of this group will increase by 7 percent every single year. This year there are 3700 international students in Utrecht.

Reason enough for the Utrecht city administration, the city of Amersfoort, the province of Utrecht, and Utrecht University to search for ways to improve their service. This Wednesday, they decided to create the International Welcome Center Utrecht Region. The plan is to have the center, with its extended opening hours, open in early 2019. A spokesperson for the municipality says the opening hours will “be doubled at the least”. The separate service desks will be in one location. The exact location of the new center in the City Office is yet unclear.

The costs of the new center are four hundred thousand euros a year. The city of Utrecht will contribute 150,000, as it’s doing this year as well. The province is paying 200,000 euros, and the city of Amersfoort and Utrecht University are both paying 25,000.

Utrecht councilman Klaas Verschuure (Economic Affairs) is happy with the development of the Expat Center in the Utrecht City Office. “This is the result of a beautiful regional collaboration,” he says. “It’s important that we act together in this, because we’ll have more and more international visitors, companies, and residents in the future.”