State of Migration 2022: government working to gain more control over migration

The current government has committed itself to a just, humane and effective asylum and migration policy. As such, it is seeking to strengthen legal migration and limit irregular migration. However, this will only be possible if it is able to gain more control over migration. Who comes to the Netherlands? Who is allowed to stay? Who has to leave? What impact does all this have on society? Answers to these questions require a good overview of migration. The government sent the second edition of State of Migration to the Dutch House of Representatives on 4 July 2022.

Migration is always highly dynamic. Whether we look at the problems that arise when trying to assist and accommodate asylum seekers, the arrival of refugees from Ukraine or the influence of the COVID-19 pandemic: these are all situations that show just how important control is. This starts with an overview of and insight into the figures and policy for 2021. The current edition of State of Migration will contribute to the control required too.

When discussing the subject of migration in the Netherlands, we often think of asylum seekers and Ter Apel but migration is actually a far broader subject. Over the years, an average of nine out of 10 migrants come here to work or study. Asylum too involves more than the asylum procedure alone and starts long before people arrive in the Netherlands. With this in mind, the international perspective is outlined first, followed by the European and – last but not least – the national perspective.

What is striking is that, in 2021, Dutch migration figures had returned to pre-pandemic levels after falling dramatically during the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2021, the impact of the pandemic was still evident in the repatriation of migrants who were residing in the Netherlands illegally. The COVID measures introduced made it more difficult to repatriate this group of migrants than it had been before the pandemic, with many countries demanding proof of vaccination or negative test results before permitting people to enter.

Approximately one-third of the total number of migrants that come to the Netherlands every year are regular migrants from outside the European Union (EU). More than half of migrants are individuals from other EU Member States. Asylum seekers represent an average of 12% of the migrants coming to the Netherlands every year. Poles (12%) were the biggest group of migrants to come to the Netherlands in 2021, followed by Romanians (6%) and Syrians (6%). A total of 37,150 asylum applications were made in 2021, of which 24,690 were first-time asylum applications, 10,120 were for later arrivals, 1,810 were reapplications and 540 were other applications. 2021 saw the departure of 18,480 aliens who were not legally resident in the Netherlands.

This second edition of State of Migration looks back but also ahead to the future, which the government does by showing the status of the plans and ambitions set out in the coalition agreement. The major effect of migration on Dutch society is becoming ever clearer. For example, the arrival of more migrants is putting the already tight housing market under even more pressure. However, there are far more consequences: migration is the biggest factor in the demographic development of the Netherlands. Given this fact, the government is increasingly turning its attention to the extent to which migration fits in with the capacity and need of Dutch society, now and in the future.