Temporary protection for third country nationals from Ukraine ends on 4 September 2023

As of 4 September 2023, the Temporary Protection Directive for fugitives from Ukraine will no longer apply to third country nationals who hold a temporary residence permit in Ukraine. This measure will affect approximately 2,900 people. Once the temporary protection has ended, they can either apply for asylum or must leave the Netherlands within 28 days after 4 September. This process will take place in stages.

Update: Third-country nationals are permitted to remain in the Netherlands until the Council of State issues a final ruling on the appeal. The State Secretary for Justice and Security announced this in a letter to the House of Representatives on 2 September 2023. Third-country nationals will receive a letter from the Immigration and Naturalisation Service (IND) regarding this decision. They also retain the right to accommodation, living allowance and employment.

Just after Russia’s military action in Ukraine, the Netherlands opened its doors to fugitives from Ukraine, including third country nationals holding a temporary residence permit there for, for example, work, study or asylum. The Netherlands was one of the few European countries to do so.

State Secretary Eric van der Burg:

The majority of the third country nationals who fled Ukraine can, in principle, return to their country of origin. If the third country national fears violence or prosecution in their country of origin, they can apply for asylum here. For this reason, the government decided in the summer of 2022 to end the temporary protection for this group as of 4 September.

Asylum application

Over the last few months, IND has started processing asylum applications of third country nationals who indicated that they wish to stay in the Netherlands. Two groups were given priority in this respect: third country nationals from countries that are considered safe and asylum applications that are likely to succeed, filed by people from Yemen and Syria.

Approximately 700 third country nationals for whom the Temporary Protection Directive no longer applies, have indicated that they wish to go ahead with the asylum procedure. It is possible that more people will still apply for asylum. Third country nationals whose asylum application is being processed or still needs to be processed will be transferred to COA (Central Agency for the Reception of Asylum Seekers) in phases in the period starting 6 weeks prior to 4 September and ending 6 weeks after 4 September.

Third country nationals whose asylum application is being processed are subject to the same work rules as other asylum seekers. They can work for no more than 24 weeks per year. Any third country national who decides to still apply for asylum after 4 September will need to file a new application for asylum and will subsequently need to wait 6 months before they are allowed to work.

Leaving the Netherlands

Third country nationals who do not apply for asylum or whose asylum application has been denied, must leave the Netherlands within 28 days after 4 September. The Return and Departure Service (Dienst Terugkeer en Vertrek; “DT&V”) can provide (financial) return support to this group. Municipalities can offer accommodation to third country nationals during these 28 days.

Third country nationals who fail to independently leave the Netherlands, are residing in the Netherlands unlawfully and can therefore be stopped by the foreign police and possibly be detained pending removal.

Legal assessment

A number of third country nationals have appealed the IND’s decision to end their protection under the Temporary Protection Directive. Rotterdam District Court has been the first court to render judgment in this matter and has ruled that ending the temporary protection of this group of people is possible and is lawful. The temporary protection will therefore not be extended for third country nationals again, as this would raise false hope and would slow down the process. The temporary protection of the third country nationals who have appealed the decision will also end on 4 September and they must leave the Netherlands then, unless the court rules otherwise.