'Residence permit fraud'
The Netherlands' Immigration and Naturalisation Department IND is investigating allegations of widespread residence-permit fraud. The Dutch justice ministry has confirmed that the documents concerned were granted as part of the 2006 amnesty for illegal immigrants.
IND sources earlier told Radio Netherlands Worldwide that irregularities concerning about 500 residence permits have been discovered. Asylum seekers are said to have sold permits on for sums of between 5,000 and 8,000 euros. Other cases involved altering photographs so that the permits could be used by other people.
The amnesty was a political hot potato for a considerable time. Supporters argued that asylum seekers who had been in the Netherlands for more than five years should be awarded residency. Opponents countered that an amnesty would simply encourage new migrants and managed to delay its introduction for a considerable period. In 2006, then integration minister Rita Verdonk announced that failed asylum seekers would be sent back to their country of origin. However, a parliamentary majority forced her to abandon the policy.
Later that year, MPs voted by a majority of just one in favour of an amnesty. It granted residency to asylum seekers who had been in the country for over six years. More than 27,000 people became eligible for residence permits under the measure.
© Radio Netherlands Worldwide