How to go Dutch for good

29th July 2003, Comments 0 comments

Want to stay here forever, putting an end to visa renewals and anxiety over changes in the law? Don't we all. But the red tape is about as messy as you'd expect. Laura Martz reports.

You say you like it here? Really, really like it? You've changed the pronunciation of your name and eat hagelslag for breakfast every day?

Well, for the ultimate in assimilation, you could be packing a Dutch passport — or at least a permanent residence visa. But the red tape runs as deep as you'd expect from this bureaucracy-loving country. Here's the low-down in black and white.

If you are from the EU…

EU citizens, of course, are the best off. They "can stay in the Netherlands forever as long as they do not make any appeal to public funds and pose no danger to the public order," says Bram Botman of the Immigration and Naturalisation Service. To do so, they must apply for a D or E document from the vreemdelingendienst (immigration police).

For others, major sacrifices and luck are involved. Marriage to, registered partnership with, or adoption by a permanent resident will usually do the trick, as will receiving asylum as a refugee.

Married residents

After three years of marriage, a foreigner can apply for naturalisation. After five, he or she can apply for a permanent residence permit - called a vergunning tot vestiging, or A document. If the marriage ends before that, the IND will consider the case on an individual basis.

The vital A document

But there is a less drastic, more autonomous route. A foreigner may also apply for an A document after five years of living here legally. That, of course, could be quite a problem in itself. Holding down a job is the likely way, if you're one of the lucky non-EU few who's snared a work permit.

For the A document, you must prove to the vreemdelingendienst that, among other things, "you have and will continue to have sufficient means of support through, for example, an employment contract or a business," Botman says. You should also be a stranger to the criminal justice system.

Once you get this permit, your foreign spouse can request one too, if you make enough money.

True Nederlanderschap

But if the Lowlands are your one true love, perhaps only genuine Nederlanderschap (Dutch nationality) will do. In that case, you must have lived here legally for at least five years. You must also speak Dutch and be integrated into society.

For people who've been here a total of ten years or lived with a Dutch partner for three, the continuous residence requirement drops to a respective two and three years preceding the request.

Cities' burgerzaken (civil affairs) departments handle Dutch nationality applications.

Technically, the law says you must do what you can to rid yourself of your other nationality. But Botman says dual nationality depends on current laws in the Netherlands and your home country.

If you've been committed enough to make it this far, though, that shouldn't be a problem - toch?




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