6 October 2004
BRUSSELS – Belgian Interior Minister Patrick Dewael wants to toughen up the country’s laws on immigration, it was reported on Wednesday.
La Libre Belgique said the Liberal minister wants to crack down on what the Belgians call ‘white’ marriages – where a foreigner marries a Belgian in order to get residency rights here.
Dewael also wants to stop what he sees as abuses of the country’s rules on uniting families.
Under the current legislation, an immigrant granted residency here can request that family members from his or her home country be allowed to move to Belgium.
If such a request is made, the authorities check to see whether the immigrants house would be big enough to accommodate extra family members and whether the person has sufficient funds to support his or her relatives.
Checks continue for six months after the arrival of the relatives to ensure they are still living under the same roof.
Dewael wants to increase that surveillance period to three years, during which time family members would only be entitled to a temporary residence card.
If, after that time, the relative still met the conditions for residence in Belgium, then the temporary card would be made permanent one.
But relatives who did not pass the test would be expelled from Belgium.
Dewael’s tough talk has not impressed some politicians who are calling on the government to do more to stop immigration abuse.
They want him to introduce the measures on uniting families without delay and they want formal punishments introduced for people who marry solely so one partner can live in Belgium.
At present, a couple found to have married for residency papers will have their marriage annulled but they cannot face criminal charges.
[Copyright Expatica 2004]
Subject: Belgian news