Minister launches investigation into improvements at IND

Minister for Migration Ankie Broekers-Knol has commissioned an external investigation into the execution of asylum procedures by the Immigration and Naturalisation Service (IND). She considers the ever-increasing lead times within the service, and the significant amounts of the resulting penalties, to be undesirable. This information emerged from a letter that the Minister submitted to the Lower House of Parliament on Monday.

Lead times

The IND is facing a backlog, partly due to the decision in 2017 to cut its spending. This backlog mainly affects people with a good chance of being granted asylum, such as refugees from a war zone. At the moment, they spend more time in a reception centre awaiting a decision than was previously the case. Over the six months ahead, the IND will prioritise this group of people.

During this period, however, there will still be people who have to wait for such a long time that they are eligible for legal compensation. In 2019, the government was forced to pay 5.5 million euros in such penalties. It is expected that this amount will rise to 17 million euros next year. Broekers-Knol regards this situation as unacceptable. ‘Reducing the lead times at the IND is the solution on which all our efforts are focused’, said the Minister.

More staff

Apart from the investigation, it has also been decided that the IND may recruit more staff. Until the end of 2020, another 300 FTE of new employees will assess asylum applications. This number is in addition to the 350 FTE of people hired since 2018. As these new employees need to be trained first, however, they will not provide immediate relief. Another cause of the higher work supply is the slight increase in the number of asylum seekers entering the country in recent times.

The IND is meanwhile making an effort to design smarter working methods. As a result, the handling of reapplications for asylum in Ter Apel will be expedited, a method to enable brief and concise assessments will be introduced at additional locations, and decisions on similar applications will be accelerated by the formation of teams with acquired expertise in these specific cases. ‘We will continue to look for ways to speed up the process, also in the period ahead’, stated Broekers-Knol.

Stable funding

Broekers-Knol expects that the majority of applications will once again be processed within the statutory term by 2021. Future backlogs should be prevented by the government's decision earlier in the year to ensure stable funding for the IND. An additional amount of 100 million euros will be reserved for the asylum system on an annual basis.

The Minister expects to receive the results of the investigation shortly. Among other things, she is asking the researchers to assess the business operations, management and working methods of the IND during the asylum procedure. The Van Zwol Committee recently found that there is a pressing need for the proper execution of existing regulations rather than the creation of new policy.