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IND faces investigation for ‘misleading councils’

5 October 2004
AMSTERDAM — The Dutch Justice Ministry has launched an investigation after the embattled Immigration and Naturalisation Service IND was accused of supplying incorrect information about immigrants who have applied for a residence permits.

The IND has been the focus of severe criticism in recent months because of serious delays in processing applications from expats and other immigrants. The latest accusations — levelled at the immigration service by the Dutch Association of Municipalities (VNG) and the Dutch Association of Civil Affairs — have only added to the controversy.

Both groups claim that since councils were given the task of issuing residence permits and application forms in April, they have often been given the wrong information by the IND.

They also claim the IND is also failing to deliver the promised ICT support.

Expats and other immigrants used to have to file applications with the Foreign Police, or Vreemdelingpolitie. But at the end of 2003, Immigration and Integration Minister Rita Verdonk announced the system would be improved by transferring the process to the IND.

In turn all information about expats and immigrants have been added to the same, single, large database as other residents (GBA, or gemeentelijk basis administratie), to be administered by each local council.

The IND has effectively become a “back office” authorising permits and visas. All applications and paperwork are handled through local city halls, which would also act as a portal to other essential offices (e.g. Sofi number and tax registration, residence registrar, etc.)

The NVVB claims the transfer of tasks is in chaos, with a spokesman claiming that the IND still uses paperwork while municipal councils are focused on completing tasks digitally. The Justice Ministry has promised councils ICT support, but that is not materialised, he said.

As a result some foreigners are being incorrectly awarded certain rights, while other rights are being incorrectly refused.

The four largest Dutch cities, Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague and Utrecht, have joined with the VNB and NVVB in sending a letter to the Justice Ministry alerting it to the situation.

Minister Verdonk reacted by telling MPs she will launch an investigation to determine how IND operations can be improved. The investigation will be carried out by the auditor’s office.

The accusations are the latest in a string of bad publicity for the IND. Lawyers told a parliamentary hearing on 13 September that IND staff are ignorant of their own procedures and that their unwillingness to investigate case files leads to long delays in issuing residence permits.

Since the IND took over the tasks of the foreign police in December 2003, computer problems have led to considerable delays in the issuing of residence permits. Verdonk has promised to clear 90 percent of applications older than six months by the end of this year.

But the Amsterdam Council complained last month that due to the delays, thousands of new immigrants cannot start their compulsory integration courses.

It gave a Verdonk a deadline of 15 October to resolve the situation or face a damages bill amounting to hundreds of thousands of euros. The Justice Ministry will respond to the ultimatum later this week.

[Copyright Expatica News + Novum Nieuws 2004]

Subject: Dutch news