IND fails to send immigrants ID cards
5 July 2004
AMSTERDAM − The Dutch immigration service IND has again been embroiled in controversy following the news that hundreds of asylum seekers, foreign students and expat workers face great difficulties because their residence permits are being sent out too late or not at all.
Due to the fact that the foreigners cannot identify themselves without a residence permit ID card, they cannot be employed, take on training placements or apply for housing, newspaper De Volkskrant reported on Monday.
Furthermore, they cannot claim benefits or child allowance and lacking the necessary legal documents, they run the risk of being declared an illegal immigrant.
Various Dutch municipalities have been inundated in recent weeks by complaints. In Amsterdam and Rotterdam, residence permits are being sent to foreigners about three to fives months too late.
And in Spijkenisse, near Rotterdam, about 150 applications for a residence permit extension have gone missing. The immigrants affected have thus incurred serious financial problems as a result.
The help desk of the Dutch Refugee Council (Vluchtelingenwerk Nederland) is also receiving many calls for assistance, with most callers complaining that they cannot receive benefits because they do not have a residence permit ID card. The callers have paid hundreds of euros to obtain such a card.
One Croatian family in Arnhem, for example, has paid EUR 1,290 for a residence permit ID card that they never received. The card was valid from 2001 and will expire on 15 August 2004. The family of three has also paid EUR 855 for an extension of the permit and is not compensated for the costs.
Municipal councils claim they cannot do anything to rectify the problem and have placed the blame solely with the IND. The immigration service − which took over visa responsibilities from the foreign police last year − is delivering the ID cards too late or not at all.
An IND spokesman said the problems were caused by the introduction of a new computer system, but the use of more staff has already cleared some of the backlog. The IND has also sent a letter to affected immigrants that they can use as legitimate identification.
The IND and foreign police have frequently been the subject of criticism due to lengthy delays. The government thus transferred the remaining visa tasks from the foreign police to the IND in a bid to streamline the system and is working on methods to improve the flow of skilled expatriates into the Netherlands.
But the end of the road recently came for 26,000 long-term asylum seekers who were told earlier this year that they would not be granted a residence permit under a government amnesty. Little more than 2,000 asylum seekers were told they could stay in the country.
Despite initial refusals from several other councils, the Dutch government has since reached a deal with municipal authorities in the northern town of Ter Appel for the creation of a special expulsion detention centre.
But amid public dissatisfaction with the looming deportations, 800 people protested on Sunday afternoon in the town against the establishment of the expulsion centre. Organisers had hoped for 1,500 participants. The protest ended without incident.
[Copyright Expatica News 2004]
Subject: Dutch news