12 October 2004
AMSTERDAM — Dutch Immigration Minister Rita Verdonk has said she is not opposed to paying damages to expats or immigrants who have suffered financially due to chronic delays in issuing residence permits.
Foreigners applying for compensation would have to provide evidence of the financial damage incurred. To date, no compensation claims have been submitted by individual expats, the minister said.
A Justice Ministry spokesman told Expatica that requests for compensation will be processed as per normal with an independent ruling. Elements such as the type of damages, the financial amount and the preventative steps taken will be taken into account.
The contact details for the IND are: Afdeling Communicatie, Postbus 5800, 2280 HV Rijswijk. For telephone inquiries: 0900 1234561.
Amsterdam City council has already threatened to sue because the permit delays are impacting the compulsory integration courses for immigrants it runs.
And opposition MPs rounded on Verdonk during a debate late on Monday about the chaos surrounding the embattled immigration service IND.
The Labour PvdA, green-left GroenLinks, Democrat D66 and the small Christian parties SGP and ChristenUnie parties said Verdonk should have identified the problems earlier and intervened to prevent the ensuing chaos.
But the Christian Democrat CDA said Verdonk cannot be blamed for all of the problems within the IND, news agency ANP reported. Verdonk's own party, the Liberal VVD, refused to criticise the minister.
Thousands of expats and immigrants have encountered serious problems in recent months because they have not been issued with a residence permit. An inquiry last week also revealed that the problems were much more serious than Verdonk had previously indicated.
It was revealed in July that 28,000 residence permit applications had been lodged more than 6 months ago. By law, the IND is required to make a decision within six months and Minister Verdonk promised to process 90 percent of the delayed applications by the end of this year.
Amsterdam City Council said in September that thousands of new immigrants could not start their compulsory integration course because they were still waiting for a residence permit
The council gave the minister until 15 October to take adequate measures to deal with the backlogs. If the situation does not improve, the Justice Ministry, which has responsibility for the IND, will face a damages bill running into hundreds of thousands of euros.
The problems arose primarily in the transfer of tasks from the Foreign Police, or Vreemdelingenpolitie, to the IND in December 2003.
The Foreign Police had built up large backlogs of work and in May 2004 the computer systems did not link up as expected.
Without a residence permit, foreigners staying in the Netherlands can not work or access social security because they could not prove they were staying legally in the Netherlands.
Furthermore, Verdonk said she has taken measures in the past three months to relieve the crisis. There was no chance in reversing the transfer of tasks because it was now in mid-stream.
The Liberal VVD minister said if she had stopped the transfer of tasks from the Foreign Police to the IND, the problems would have multiplied.
Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende's first coalition government decided to transfer tasks from the foreign police to the IND in 2002. Verdonk took up her position in May 2003 after the January election.
Expatica plans to publish an article this week in which expats tell of their experiences of applying to the IND for a residence permit. We have asked the IND to comment on the criticisms voiced by the people who contributed to the article.
[Copyright Expatica News 2004]
Subject: Dutch news
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