Cabinet backs pre-arrival integration classes
9 February 2004
AMSTERDAM — Should MPs back a Cabinet proposal, non-EU nationals who wish to settle in the Netherlands will in future be required to start integration courses in their country of origin prior to arrival.
This means that before non-EU nationals travel to the Netherlands, they might soon need to undergo a Dutch language and culture exam at a Dutch embassy in their home country, news agency ANP reported.
The Christian Democrat CDA, Liberal VVD and Democrat D66 coalition Cabinet approved the proposal submitted by Immigration Minister Rita Verdonk and Foreign Affairs Minister Ben Bot on Friday. The plans had been previously announced.
The Dutch government is getting tough on immigration and besides stronger legislation that has reduced the flow of asylum seekers into the country in recent years, it is hoped that tougher integration requirements will reduce the number of legal immigrants as well.
Anti-immigrant politician Pim Fortuyn shocked the nation prior to the May 2002 election when he stated publicly the Netherlands was full. Despite immediate condemnation of his statement and his assassination at the hands of an animal rights activist on 6 May 2002, the message has taken root in Dutch political thinking.
Compulsory integration is also seen as a key component in government immigration policy. The present coalition is thus in favour of proposals to only issue a permanent residence permit once a foreign national has passed an integration course and believes that participants should self-fund their classes.
Immigrants already in the country for some time and who receive government benefits will also be forced to undergo integration classes if they do not have adequate knowledge of the Dutch language.
Meanwhile, the pre-arrival immigration entry requirement will apply particularly to adults who wish to immigrate to the Netherlands for family unification and formation purposes, such as Moroccans and Turkish nationals.
They will only be issued with an MVV entry visa — issued to foreign nationals if they qualify to stay in the Netherlands longer than three months — if they possess a suitable knowledge of the Dutch culture and language. A commission will examine what base level should be considered necessary.
It must also be decided where and how would-be immigrants can undergo their preliminary integration training and the Lower House of Parliament, the Tweede Kamer, must also approve the plan.
[Copyright Expatica News 2004]
Subject: Dutch news