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Tracking the Dutch immigration policy

19th May 2004, Comments0 comments

The Dutch government is getting tougher on most forms of immigration, but is opening the door to skilled expats. Aaron Gray-Block traces the recent flurry of proposals.

Immigration Minister Rita Verdonk

Faced with a growing public and political backlash against immigration counterbalanced with demands to admit more skilled expats, the Dutch government has recently taken the bull by the horns.

Many of the proposals must still be approved by Parliament, but the Christian Democrat CDA, Liberal VVD and Democrat D66 majority government is expected to push through the bulk of its plans. 
 
Skilled expats

The Cabinet's move to ease immigration policies governing the entry of skilled expats has been described by Economic Affairs Minister Laurens Jan Brinkhorst as a breakthrough.

Government ministers backed plans on 29 April that will pave the way for one point of contact, one procedure and one permit for skilled or so-called "knowledge migrants".

The proposal drafted by Immigration Minister Rita Verdonk states that a knowledge migrant is someone who enters the Netherlands for work, earning a minimum gross income of EUR 45,000.

The Justice Ministry said the income criterion will not apply to foreigners entering into employment as a doctoral student at an educational or research institute and for postgraduates and university teachers under 30 years of age.

Skilled expats currently obliged to obtain a work permit will in future be placed outside of the Foreign Workers Employment Act and they will no longer require a work permit. The Immigration and Naturalisation Service (IND) will be responsible for the issuing of a residence permit.
 
The permit will be granted for five years if the expat has a work contract for an indefinite period. In case of a contract for a definite period, the permit will be granted for the duration of the contract, with a maximum of five years.

Corporations and institutions can reach an agreement with the IND qualifying skilled expats for an accelerated procedure for a temporary entry permit (MVV).

The government promises to fully deal with these applications — which most non-European Union nationals must obtain before entering the country — in the shortest possible period of time, but at two weeks at the maximum. 
 
Students will not be regarded as knowledge migrants and instead will be granted a residence permit for a period of one year. This will be subject to annual renewal. Educational institutes will be able use the accelerated MVV procedure

Residence permit fees

The Cabinet has agreed to reduce the fees for residence permits for an indefinite stay and the renewal of standard residence permits. But the fees for family reunification permits will increase.

A recent study found that costs for standard residence permits decline in proportion to the length of time a foreigner has spent in the Netherlands.

Residence permit renewals presently cost EUR 285, but could thus be reduced to just EUR 50. Applications for an indefinite period cost EUR 890, but are set to be reduced in price by EUR 696.

Fees for family reunification will increase by EUR 505, but the Cabinet intends to implement a family tariff, which will apply if one or more family members submit an application for residence.

The introduction of a family tariff will mean that the current tariff for children under 12 years will cease to apply.

Integration issues

Newcomers and settled immigrants will be forced to successfully pass an integration examination to prove they have integrated into Dutch society.

The law is primarily aimed at non-EU family unification immigrants — especially those from Turkey and Morocco — who will be required to complete a basic integration test in their country of origin before arriving in the Netherlands.

The Netherlands is the first country in the world to demand permanent immigrants complete a pre-arrival integration course. US, Canadian, Australian, New Zealand and Japanese nationals are exempted from the pre-arrival courses.

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