Civic integration to become a condition of residence in the Netherlands

The government is making migrants who are obliged to sit the civic integration exam responsible for their own integration into Dutch society. For its part, the government will give them the tools to fulfil this obligation. One such tool is a system of loans of up to €10,000 per person.

This new approach is set out in a proposed amendment to the Civic Integration Act submitted to parliament by the Minister of the Interior and Kingdom Relations, Piet Hein Donner. The amendment also gives effect to the government's plan to link the civic integration obligation to the right of residence in the Netherlands.

The system of loans is one of the ways in which the government is supporting migrants who have to take the civic integration exam. A maximum of €5,000 may be borrowed by migrants who have come to the Netherlands for family reunification purposes and a maximum of €10,000 by asylees. Applicants will be means-tested, and loans will only be granted on condition that they are spent on courses that directly train candidates for the civic integration exam or the NT2 (Dutch language) state examinations, and on the exam fees. If necessary, asylees may spend part of their loan on a literacy course.

Loans are made on condition that migrants fulfil their obligations within three years. Migrants who neglect to do so will forfeit their temporary regular residence permit. This condition does not apply to asylees.

The government considers fluency in the Dutch language and knowledge of Dutch society to be essential conditions for admission to, and residence in, the Netherlands. If migrants choose to come to the Netherlands, it is reasonable to expect them to take an active part in Dutch society. If they neglect to meet this requirement, withdrawal of the regular residence permit is a logical consequence.

Other amendments to the Civic Integration Act include the following:

  • The Act will only apply to newcomers and no longer to established migrants or migrants who undertake civic integration voluntarily.
  • The practical examination and the various modalities for testing civic integration will be replaced by a single central exam.
  • The government will be responsible for ensuring that there are sufficient accredited courses available.