IX. Immigration, integration and asylum
Our immigration policy is restrictive, just and geared toward integration. It is a policy that will take account of society’s absorption capacity. For migrants themselves and for society as a whole, it is important that those who come to this country can stand on their own two feet, support themselves through work, integrate swiftly and help contribute to this society. On that basis, EU residents and highly-skilled migrants are also welcome.
We will also build in safeguards, in the form of certain requirements, to ensure integration in cases of family formation and reunification. We will do the same, albeit in different ways, in the case of immigrants from the other three countries of the Kingdom. Refugees who meet the relevant conditions will be given facilities and protection to enable them to participate fully in Dutch society as soon as possible. We expect them to do their utmost to take advantage of the opportunities they are offered. For all newcomers, the best prospects for successful integration are learning the Dutch language, getting to know this society and finding paid employment.
Integration policy will be the responsibility of the Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment, while the Ministry of Security and Justice will be responsible for asylum and immigration.
• Within the EU we will continue to lobby for tighter rules on family reunification within the relevant Directive, specifically: raising the minimum age for prospective marriage partners to 24 and ensuring that those wishing to marry partners from abroad can support themselves through gainful employment. We will also press for measures to combat sham and forced marriages.
• DNA tests will be used to curb identity fraud.
• Marriage between cousins will, in principle, be prohibited.
• No residence permits will be issued to applicants who have previously been illegally resident in the Netherlands or committed fraud.
• Aliens who have been convicted of an offence will be expelled more swiftly. The period within which a prison sentence results in expulsion will be lengthened to five years, and in the case of recidivism, the norm for repeat offenders will be applied.
• Family migration is meant for nuclear families: long-term, exclusive relationships between partners and those who form part of their household through biological kinship.
• Partly in the interest of their own development, unaccompanied minors will be reunited with their families in their countries of origin as soon as possible, or accommodated at reception facilities in their countries of origin.
• In accordance with international and European protection norms, admissions policy centres on protecting aliens who have grounds to fear persecution or serious human rights violations. National grounds for protection, including categorial protection policy, will be removed from the Aliens Act.
• Admission procedures will be streamlined and shortened as much as possible, especially with regard to repeat applications and applications for regular (i.e. non-asylum) residence permits from aliens who are required to obtain an authorisation for temporary stay (MVV). The incentives and opportunities for submitting multiple repeat applications will be eliminated. The aim of these measures is to carefully evaluate whether protection is necessary and, when applications are rejected, to focus attention on return to the country of origin.
• A child of a rejected asylum seeker who has resided in the Netherlands for at least five years before the age of 18 will be issued a residence permit if he or she applies for one before turning 21 and has not sought to evade the supervision of the national authorities for a protracted period. The same applies to unaccompanied minor aliens who have been in the Netherlands for at least five years before turning 18. In cases such as this, only those family members of the child of a rejected asylum seeker who are residing in the Netherlands will receive a dependent residence permit. The foregoing will be incorporated in a transitional regime that will form part of definitive provisions aimed at streamlining and shortening admission procedures. Under the definitive provisions, which by their very nature will affect only a small number of people, children of rejected asylum seekers or unaccompanied minor aliens who have lived for at least five consecutive years in the Netherlands before the age of 18, will be eligible for a residence permit only if they apply for it before turning 19. Before turning 18, they must have met certain conditions: they must not have sought to evade the supervision of the national authorities for a protracted period; they must have cooperated with their return, and they must be able to prove their identity, inter alia by submitting documents and/or by providing truthful, consistent statements and answers to questions. No right to reception can be derived from these provisions. No permits will be issued pursuant to these provisions to aliens who have committed a serious offence or who are accused of committing war crimes, or to their families. If an unaccompanied minor who has obtained a residence permit under these provisions submits an application to bring one or both parents to the Netherlands and provides incorrect information to that end, whether before, during or after the application process, his or her residence permit will be revoked.
• Employers and profiteering landlords who employ or provide accommodation to people who do not have residence permits will be dealt with firmly.
• Illegal residence will be made a criminal offence. Private individuals and organisations that offer individuals help will not be criminally liable.
• We will increase the Netherlands’ contribution to the reception of refugees in the region.
• On the basis of the criteria used by Aruba, Curaçao and St Maarten themselves (including income and criminal record), we will put forward a proposal to regulate the settlement of people from those countries in the Netherlands.
• A restrictive and just immigration policy calls for an active, consistent policy on return. Those who are not permitted to reside here must leave, or they will be expelled. We will put pressure on countries to readmit their own citizens who have been denied admission to the Netherlands. This may affect trade and development relations with such countries.
• We will tighten the requirements for integration, both in the Netherlands and abroad.
• Preparing for the civic integration exam is the responsibility of the individuals themselves. Financial aid will be available for those with asylum status; others can take advantage of a government loan system.
• Aliens’ efforts to integrate into Dutch society will be consistently monitored from the outset. Those who do not make a sufficient effort will lose their residence permit, with the exception of people holding asylum residence permits. But the latter group will also be expected to make an effort to eliminate obstacles to employment such as an inadequate command of Dutch. Only then will they be eligible for social assistance benefit.
• Clothing that covers the face will be banned in education, the care sector, public transport and in public-authority buildings. In public places the police will be authorised to order individuals to remove such clothing, for the purposes of identification. Individuals who wear clothing that covers the face will not qualify for social assistance benefit.
• Currently, aliens must have been resident in the Netherlands for five years to be able to vote in municipal elections, to qualify for naturalisation and to retain their residence rights when applying for social assistance benefit. This period will be extended to seven years.
• The government will press the EU to change the rule for EU nationals so that they too will be eligible for social assistance benefit only after seven years of residence, partly in connection with plans to link social security entitlements to length of residence.
• Immigrants with violent partners will be eligible for a non-partner-dependent residence permit; perpetrators will be prosecuted.
• Individuals who cannot speak Dutch will not receive social assistance benefit. This principle will be applied consistently: to EU nationals, third-country nationals and Dutch nationals.
• Existing policy concerning the residence and return of EU labour migrants will be continued.
• As of 1 January 2014 the restrictions limiting the access of Bulgarian and Romanian workers to the labour market will be lifted. This makes it even more important to vigorously implement the EU labour migration project, the action plan to eliminate rogue employment agencies and the Social Affairs and Employment (Stricter Enforcement and Sanctions) Act.
• Both bilaterally and internationally, the Netherlands will work to ensure that people will have the option of voluntarily renouncing their nationality without becoming stateless.