Expatica news

Experts: integration exam must not be too hard

3 March 2004

AMSTERDAM — The integration exam that the Dutch Cabinet wishes to impose on family unification immigrants planning to stay permanently in the Netherlands must be of a reasonably attainable level, a special commission said on Wednesday. 

In its advice on Immigration Minister Rita Verdonk, the Franssen commission – headed by Jan Franssen, a Queen’s Commissioner in Zuid-Holland –  said the exam must not be so difficult as to exclude illiterate or low-educated people from a chance of passing.

Moreover, the commission said the integration exam would carry high costs and that the Dutch government should weigh this against the benefits it expected the exam to provide, news agency ANP reported.

Minister Verdonk requested the commission’s advice in relation to the Cabinet’s decision to make family unification immigrants from non-EU countries start an integration course in their country of origin before they arrive in the Netherlands to join their Dutch partner.

The plan is targeted mainly at Turkish and Moroccan nationals, but in practice all  non-EU national entering the Netherlands to stay permanently with their Dutch partner will be required to do an integration course in their home country, provided that their national government has not signed a treaty of exclusion.

Meanwhile, the commission also proposed that only a person’s knowledge of the Dutch language should be tested in the exam, advising against a Dutch culture test. It said immigrants would have inadequate skills to complete a culture test in the Dutch language and a test in their own language would be too expensive.

The commission urged the coalition Christian Democrat CDA, Liberal VVD and Democrat D66 Cabinet to seriously reconsider the costs of the project. It also said the costs could be so high that investing an equal sum of money into integration in the Netherlands might bear more fruit.

The Franssen commission said students should pay for the costs, but the government should invest in new lesson material. It did not indicate how much the system would cost the government and immigrants, news agency Novum reported.

In any case, the commission advised that a trial should be conducted to build experience before fully implementing the scheme.

The integration exams must be suitable to be held at more than 160 Dutch diplomatic posts across the globe, ranging from a few tests to several thousand exams per year. The commission will come up with a proposal for the content of the exam in May.

Due to the fact that an exam will determine whether someone obtains a Dutch residence permit, every form of fraud must be prevented, the commission said.

The commission’s advice comes after the ACVZ advisory commission said on Tuesday that forcing non-EU immigrants to do an integration exam as a condition to stay in the Netherlands would not breach the European Convention on Human Rights.

The ACVZ commission also said such a requirement could act as a pre-condition for a permanent residence permit and that the Netherlands was legally entitled to do so. A second integration course awaits new arrivals who have completed a course in their country of origin.

But the Council of State — which advises the government on legislative proposals — must also assess the government’s plan, after which Verdonk will draw up draft legislation.

[Copyright Expatica News 2004]

Subject: Dutch news