New rules requiring couples to be married in order to have their residency application accepted by the Immigration and Naturalisation Service (IND) and the repealing of the ‘extended family reunion' purpose of residence have come into force for all applications made from 1 October 2012 onwards. Visit the news section of the IND website for the most up-to-date information.
Under the measures only married partners or couples who have a registered partnership may apply for a visa on the basis of family reunification. This means that unmarried couples cannot apply, unless they are unable to get married in their home countries. A temporary exception can be made allowing a couple to stay in the Netherlands for a period of 6 months. However they must get married in this time if they wish to stay beyond that period.
Additionally, sponsors living in the Netherlands on the basis of a residence permit generally must have been there for at least one year before they can only bring a partner to the country.
In other changes, the term for qualifying for continued residence has been increased from 3 to 5 years.
Family members of EU citizens
Similar to other European countries, the Netherlands allows family members of EEA citizens to live freely in the country. This covers spouses or registered partners, grandparents, parents-in-law or grand or great-grandchildren of EEA or Swiss citizens.
Children over the age of 21 or antecedents (parents-in-law, grandparents etc.) must demonstrate that the EU family member provided for them or lived with them in the country of origin.
You should apply for a residence document type I (proof of lawful residence), which can be done by submitting the ‘Application for assessment under community law’ form to one of the IND offices.
The residence document entitles family members to exactly the same rights as the EU citizen. If that person has a residence endorsement sticker, then you will be granted a residence document with a 5-year term.
If you are not a Swiss or EEA citizen, then your family members will need to apply for an authorisation for temporary stay (MVV) before they come over. There are several grounds on which partners and family members of expats can get a residence permit or an MVV (authorisation for temporary stay).
If you were living in the Netherlands when the marriage or registered partnership took place it is classed as ‘establishing a family’. All other cases are classed as family reunification. The degree of financial support required is higher for ‘establishing a family’.
Highly Skilled, Knowledge Migrant or Researcher visa holders
If you have a highly skilled or knowledge migrant visa then your employer can apply on behalf of your family, if they have an agreement with the IND.
The advantage of bringing your family under the knowledge migrant procedure or researcher procedure is that it is much faster than the regular procedure. The IND aims to make a decision on the MVV (which allows you to enter the Netherlands) within 2 weeks.
Partners/spouses of highly skilled migrants and scientific researchers are also not required to take the Civic Integration Examination Abroad.
It is worth bearing in mind that the residence permit for a spouse or registered partner cannot be issued until there is proof that the marriage is registered with the Municipal Administration (Gemeentelijke Basisadministratie or GBA). Moreover, family members must be registered at the same address as the highly skilled migrant. Besides that, partners of knowledge migrants and researchers are free to work on the Dutch labour market during the period of the valid residence permit of their spouse.
Other visa holders
If you want to bring your family members and you are not a highly skilled migrant, a knowledge migrant or a researcher, additional rules apply.
For spouses and registered partners, one of the conditions to obtain an MVV is that the marriage is already registered in the Municipal Administration of the place of residence. You will need to provide legalised copies of both birth certificates and a legal certificate attesting to the marriage or registered partnership, to obtain the 'M46 declaration' from the IND in order to get your marriage approved and registered at the municipality. Without this approval and registration, a residence permit on the basis of family reunification or establishing a family will not be issued. If you are not married already, you will need a document that attests to your unmarried status.
The IND will investigate whether the marriage is genuine. Assuming the IND is satisfied they will notify your municipality and the marriage can then be registered. The process takes between five and ten weeks.
The M46 procedure was introduced to prevent the use of marriage, which is entered into for the sole purpose of obtaining right of residence. This kind of marriage is sometimes termed a marriage of convenience or a bogus marriage.
Spouses or registered partners must also be sufficient financial means to support the parties in the long-term and applicants must take the Civic Integration Examination Abroad before coming to the Netherlands.
To bring over any children, they cannot have been married before and must live with the parent(s) when they arrive in the Netherlands. They must also pose no danger to public order and, if one of the parents is remaining in the original country, their consent to the move must be obtained. In addition, children over 18 must take the Civic Integration Examination Abroad before coming to the Netherlands, unless they come from: US, Australia, Canada, Japan, Iceland, Monaco, New Zealand, South Korea, Turkey, Vatican City.
The conditions for bringing a parent or parents over on the basis of family reunification largely centre on being able to prove sufficient means of financial support. As with other applicants, if parents are under 65 they will need to take the Civic Integration Examination Abroad before coming to the Netherlands.
Civic Integration Examination Abroad
A number of foreign nationals first have to take the Civic Integration Examination Abroad before they can come to the Netherlands. This tests the basic knowledge of Dutch language and society. The knowledge is assessed by taking an exam at the Dutch embassy (or the consulate) in the country of origin or the country of continuous residence. You can find more information at www.naarnederland.nl.
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