Applying for asylum – what is the procedure?

Asylum seekers apply for asylum because of their situation in their own country. They are granted asylum if they have good reason to fear persecution or inhuman treatment, or because it is unsafe to return to their country because of war. The Immigration and Naturalisation Service (IND) decides whether or not to grant someone asylum.

Asylum seeker registration

An asylum seeker who enters the Netherlands must report to the Aliens Police, Identification and People Trafficking Department (AVIM) (formerly the Aliens Police). AVIM is located at the application centre in Ter Apel. It will record the asylum seeker’s personal data, including name, date of birth and nationality. The police also take fingerprints of all new arrivals in the Netherlands.

AVIM is part of the National Police and has an office in almost every municipality. It can be reached at the general non-emergency police telephone number: +31 (0)900 8844.

Selecting the procedure

In some cases there is a faster procedure for assessing asylum applications. After the asylum seeker reports to AVIM, the Immigration and Naturalisation Service (IND) decides which procedure to use.

Applying for asylum

After registration, asylum seekers apply for asylum at the centre run by the Central Agency for the Reception of Asylum Seekers (COA) in Ter Apel. If it is very busy, they may be sent to another application centre. There they sign their asylum application, after which they are interviewed by the IND to establish their identity, nationality and travel route.

The IND checks whether applicants are already registered in another country. This is because asylum seekers are required to apply for asylum in the country where they are first registered, in line with EU agreements.

Time for rest and preparation

COA provides asylum seekers with accommodation. They are also given a medical examination and a lawyer helps them prepare for the asylum procedure, which is scheduled by the IND. To give them time to recover from their journey, asylum seekers are given at least six days of rest before the asylum procedure starts. For more information about preparing for the asylum procedure, see the IND website.

General asylum procedure

Asylum seekers follow the general asylum procedure at the IND. This takes a maximum of eight days. During this time, the asylum seeker gives their account of what happened to them and the IND assesses their application.

Extended asylum procedure

Sometimes it is impossible to assess an application within eight days because more time is needed for investigation. In such cases, the extended asylum procedure applies. For more information see the brochures about the asylum procedure on the IND website.

Decisions on asylum applications

Asylum seekers are told within six months by the IND whether they will be granted a residence permit. If the IND has a lot of applications to process or needs more time to investigate, this period can be extended by another nine months. Asylum seekers can appeal this decision in consultation with their lawyers.

Faster procedure

The faster procedure is used if:

  • another EU member state is responsible for processing the application;
  • the asylum seeker has already found refuge in another EU member state;
  • the asylum seeker is from a safe country.

In these cases asylum seekers are not given time for rest or preparation, and have only one interview with the IND. That interview gives them a chance to explain why they cannot go to another member state, or why their home country is not safe for them.

The IND takes a quick decision in these cases. Asylum seekers from safe countries must leave the Netherlands immediately.

Temporary residence permit

A temporary asylum residence permit is valid for five years. It gives its holder certain rights, but also carries obligations. For instance, permit holders are entitled to accommodation and are obliged to take a civic integration examination.

Permanent residence permit

After asylum seekers have been in the Netherlands for five years, the IND considers whether they still need protection here. They must also have passed the civic integration exam. If they meet these criteria, they are given a permanent residence permit. This permit allows them to stay in the Netherlands for the rest of their lives. If they commit a serious offence, however, the permit can be taken away.

Denied asylum applications

If an asylum application is denied, the asylum seeker must leave the Netherlands. Sometimes the Repatriation and Departure Service (DT&V) assists in this process.

For more information see the page on Reception of asylum seekers in the Netherlands.