Dutch government unveils new integration exam

4th February 2005, Comments 0 comments

4 February 2005AMSTERDAM — Does a car have two or four wheels? Is it OK to sunbathe topless on the North Sea beaches along the Dutch coast?

4 February 2005

AMSTERDAM — Does a car have two or four wheels? Is it OK to sunbathe topless on the North Sea beaches along the Dutch coast?

These are just two of the questions would-be immigrants may be asked as part of the new inburgeringsexamen, or integration exam, included in draft legislation that was unveiled by Immigration and Integration Minister Rita Verdonk on Thursday.

The exam is intended for immigrants, who will have to take it in their home country prior to coming to the Netherlands, to test their ability to speak Dutch and to gauge their understanding of Dutch culture.

A video accompanies the exam material to give candidates insight into life in the Netherlands. It includes images of women sunbathing topless on the beach and of gay marriage — two examples of accepted behaviour in the Netherlands.

The draft legislation provides for exemptions for certain groups of newcomers. These include citizens from other EU countries; the European Economic Area (EU states and Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein) and Switzerland, the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Japan.

These groups of newcomers are not required to sit the integration exam in their land of origin, according to the draft legislation. However, some may be required to undertake an integration course and exam when in the Netherlands.

The draft legislation has to be approved by parliament before it is introduced.

The integration pack — exam material and video — will cost EUR 45 and students will need 250 to 350 hours preparation before sitting the exam, Verdonk said.

People sitting the exam will communicate with the examiner in the Netherlands by phone. The immigrant will have to pay for the price of the phone call.

Verdonk says the exam will ensure that people who choose to settle in the Netherlands for an extended period of time will have prepared for life here before arrival.

"As integration into Dutch society is a longterm process it is important that newcomers before arrival to the Netherlands have a command of the Dutch language at a basic level and developed an understanding of the society into which they are coming," Verdonk says.

The obligation to undertake an integration course will mainly apply, Verdonk says, to people who come here to form a family by marrying a Dutch person, for example, or who want to be re-united with family members already in the Netherlands.

The ministry estimates 14,000 people a year will apply to take the exam. And given that most family-reunification migrants come from Turkey, Morocco and Suriname, Verdonk says, the majority of applications will be dealt with in the capital cities Ankara, Rabat and Paramaribo.

[Copyright Expatica News 2005]

Subject: Dutch news, Dutch integration exam

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