Ombudsman criticises residence permit delays
17 August 2004, AMSTERDAM — The Dutch Immigration and Naturalisation Service (IND) is still taking too long to process residence permit applications, the Ombudsman Roel Fernhout has claimed.
17 August 2004
AMSTERDAM — The Dutch Immigration and Naturalisation Service (IND) is still taking too long to process residence permit applications, the Ombudsman Roel Fernhout has claimed.
Fernhout told Radio 1 that he had written to immigration and integration minister Rita Verdonk and sought a meeting with her to discuss the "dubious functioning" of the IND.
Last year he also complained to the minister about delays in dealing with applications for asylum. Back then Verdonk promised to take his recommendations on board.
Responsibility for issuing residence permits was transferred from the Aliens Police to the IND and municipal offices.
But Fernhout claims little has changed in practice in the last 12 months, news agency ANP reported.
Fernhout said he had received numerous complaints about delays in processing applications and the difficulty in contacting the IND by phone.
He also said he was concerned by the way the IND dealt with complaints, he said.
The IND disputes his findings. IND spokesman Martin Bruinsma said it was 'unfair' and 'exaggerated' to suggest there were problems across the board with the IND's operations.
He conceded the IND has had problems in the past but he emphasised good results in recent weeks. "By 6 August the entire backlog of applications had been dealt with," Bruinsma said.
"We had been difficult to contact [by phone] in the past because we took over the complaints as well as the tasks of the Foreign Police. Having hired the services of an external call centre, we are now 100 percent contactable."
Bruinsma said the delays caused when the IND taking over the Aliens Police could not have prevented. Several unexpected problems emerged over the last 12 months, the biggest being difficulties in integrating the two computer systems. The IND is still working to solve that problem.
In his letter to the minister, Fernhout emphasised that foreigners coming to live in the Netherlands were finding themselves in all manners of bureaucratic problems. Many could not prove they were legitimate residents when they tried to deal with the tax office and insurers, the Ombudsman said.
Fernhout said he would conduct an evaluation this autumn into possible negligence in the way people seeking residence permits are treated by the IND.
[Copyright Expatica News 2004]
Subject: Dutch news