Participation statement to be mandatory part of civic integration exam

A ‘participation statement’ is to be made a mandatory part of the Netherlands’ civic integration process. This means that all newcomers to the country will first be required to complete a participation procedure before taking their civic integration exam. The cabinet today approved a proposal to this effect to amend the Civic Integration Act, as proposed by Minister of Social Affairs and Employment Lodewijk Asscher.

The government aims to incorporate the participation procedure and statement in the Act by 1 July 2017. This will make the procedure mandatory for all newcomers, including asylum migrants as well as those arriving in the Netherlands for family formation or reunification.

The procedure consists of an introduction to Dutch core values, followed by the signature of a participation statement. The procedure allows municipalities to familiarise newcomers with their rights and responsibilities and with the values that are fundamental to Dutch society. It concludes with newcomers’ signing a statement declaring that they have been informed of, and will respect, the values and basic rules of Dutch society.

Under the amended Civic Integration Act, municipalities will be required to offer asylum migrants social guidance to help them make their way in their new community. Municipalities will have scope to design some  aspects of the guidance they provide; for example they may wish to assist newcomers who are just starting their civic integration or introduce them to local organisations. Late last year the government raised the budget for social guidance from €1,000 to €2,370 per asylum migrant.

Migrants who are subject to mandatory civic integration and through their own fault fail to sign the participation statement may be fined up to €340 and may be fined again if they fail to sign the statement on another occasion. Migrants who through their own fault fail to pass the civic integration exam as a whole can be denied a permanent residence permit and may be ineligible for Dutch nationality.

The cabinet has agreed to send the bill to the Council of State for an advisory opinion. The text of the bill and the Council of State’s opinion will be published when the bill is introduced in the House of Representatives.