Migrants prosecuted for Dutch residency fraud

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About 350 failed asylum seekers who were granted Dutch residence permits under a 2006 amnesty are being prosecuted for fraud.

Their cases have been investigated by the Dutch Immigration and Naturalisation Department IND. Some have already been convicted and sentenced to prison terms of between four and six months. They have had their permits rescinded.

The migrants are said to have sold their permits on for sums of between 5,000 and 8,000 euros. Other cases involved altering photographs so that the permits could be used by other people. An IND spokeswoman says that, so far, “no investigation has revealed that government officials were guilty of fraud”. It has been pointed out that the number of suspected fraud cases is a tiny percentage of the total number of residency permits handed out under the 2006 amnesty.

About 28,000 failed asylum seekers were granted residency under the measure, which at the time caused widespread political controversy. Supporters argued that migrants who had been in the Netherlands for more than five years should be awarded residency. Opponents countered that an amnesty would simply encourage new migrants and managed to delay its introduction for a considerable period.

The then integration minister, Rita Verdonk, a member of the conservative VVD, announced that failed asylum seekers would be sent back to their country of origin. However, a parliamentary majority forced her to abandon the policy and MPs voted by a majority of just one in favour of the amnesty. It granted residency to asylum seekers who had been in the country for over six years.



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