The Dutch permit court battle begins

16th September 2003, Comments 0 comments

Newcomers groups have served a legal writ on the Immigration Minister follwing the scandalous increases in the price of residence permits.

 

We recently moved from Mexico to the Netherlands and were surprised by the current fees for Dutch residence permit applications. We have lived all over the world and these kinds of fees are quite new to us. Not a pleasant surprise! My Dutch employer is willing to compensate the fees to a certain extent but our family has six members so in the end all this will cost us an arm and a leg. We understand that the Dutch government is trying to economize but is this the right way to do it? And why are residence permits only valid for one year? Does this mean we will have to pay a huge amount of ´leges´ over and over again?

In one of my previous columns, I informed you of the huge increase of 'leges' (fees) with regard to regular Dutch residence permit applications. In May 2002 a "modest" increase was introduced, EUR 56.72 to EUR 258. On 1 January 2003 the leges were catapulted and reached the dizzying heights of EUR 430 per application. It would not surprise me in the least if another increase were introduced in the near future.

EUR 430 per regular residence permit application is a lot of money. Usually, the Dutch employer pays these 'leges' as part of the expat expenditure package. This makes sense to me.

An expat is required to apply for a Dutch residence permit if and when (s)he intends to reside in the Netherlands for more than three months. The expat´s intention is directly linked to the purpose of her/his stay in the Netherlands, namely employment. The Dutch employer should therefore pick up the tab. I know that some employers in the Netherlands do not follow this reasoning, leaving the expat and her/his family with an unexpected and costly annual surprise.

A number of expats have written to me in the past complaining about the increase of 'leges' and why nobody did anything about this. Various Dutch newspapers and legal magazines published articles on this topic, and last month the national television news bulletin Journaal informed millions of viewers that several Dutch organisations were taking the Kingdom of the Netherlands to court over the issue.

I did some checking and found out that on 18 August 2003 the Kingdom of the Netherlands, or more precisely the Minister for immigration and Integration was served a writ, or dagvaarding, to appear before the court of The Hague.

The plaintiffs, twenty-five in total, are primarily organisations concerned with the well being of foreigners in the Netherlands. They include the national foundation against racial discrimination, the Stichting Landelijk Bureau ter bestrijding van Rassendiscrimatie, and newcomers' support groups, Vereniging Platform Buitenlanders Rijnmond, Vereniging VluchtelingenWerk Nederland, and Stichting Nederlands Centrum Buitenlanders.

They claim that the leges increase of 660 percent is unlawful and incompatible with certain international treaties, the Dutch Constitution, and the Dutch Act Governing Foreigners 2000.

The procedure has just started and it may take a while before the Court pronounces a verdict. I will keep you informed.

This column is for informative purposes only, is general in nature, and is not intended to be a substitute for competent legal and professional advice. Dutch rules and regulations regarding foreigners, policy, work permits, visas, and residence permits are continuously subject to change.

16 September 2003

Patrick R. Rovers,
lawyer with Van Velzen CS

This column is for informative purposes only, is general in nature, and is not intended to be a substitute for competent legal and professional advice. Dutch rules and regulations regarding foreigners, government or EU policy, work permits, visas and residence permits are continuously subject to change.

Patrick Rovers and Hans van Velzen

Subject: Ask the Experts


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