Government: staying means participating

Refugees with a residence permit must start participating in Dutch society as soon as possible. Learning the Dutch language and core values, and finding employment are crucial to this.

Refugees with the right to stay in the Netherlands will therefore be given more language training earlier on. They will also be screened straight away to establish their qualifications, professional experience and level of language proficiency. The participation statement will become a compulsory part of civic integration. The above was communicated to the House of Representatives by the Minister of Social Affairs and Employment, Lodewijk Asscher, in a letter on refugees’ integration and participation. The letter elaborates on the voluntary agreement between the government, municipalities and provinces.

The language programme for refugees in asylum seekers centres will be greatly expanded. Municipalities will receive extra funding of between €1,000 and €2,370 per person for the social guidance of asylum seekers who have been given permission to stay. Some of this money will be used to train thousands of volunteers to help refugees, for example as language coaches. From next week, information about civic integration will be available in fifteen languages besides Dutch. Employers in various sectors, including construction, IT and technology, have asked to be matched as soon as possible with refugees with appropriate skills.

The participation statement is part of an extensive programme in which all refugees in a municipality must take part. It is paid for out of the municipality’s social guidance budget. Signing the participation statement is the starting point of the civic integration process for asylum seekers with a residence permit. The Civic Integration Act will be amended to make this programme compulsory for all newcomers in the Netherlands. All those required to undergo civic integration will have to sign the participation statement at the start of the programme. This includes migrants coming for the purpose of family formation or reunification.

The participation statement is intended to make newcomers aware of their rights and obligations and of the fundamental values of Dutch society. Once the Civic Integration Act has been amended, migrants who are required to undergo civic integration and refuse to sign the participation statement can be fined up to €1,250 or denied a residence permit. In addition, newcomers who refuse to take part in the process or refuse to sign the statement will not be entitled to apply for Dutch citizenship.