Integration of newcomers

The government believes foreign nationals must participate in Dutch society, for example by working or receiving an education. A command of the language is a condition for this.

Compulsory integration and learning Dutch

If you come to live in the Netherlands for a longer period of time from outside the EEA, Switzerland and Turkey, and are between 18 and state pension age, you are obliged to learn Dutch. This rule also applies to clerics, such as imams and pastors. Learning the language is part of the compulsory integration process. Foreign nationals from the EEA, Switzerland or Turkey are not obliged by law to integrate but it is just as important that they learn Dutch.

Compulsory integration begins outside the Netherlands

Integration begins in your home country. You must take the civic integration exam abroad before you arrive in the Netherlands.

Compulsory integration in the Netherlands

If you settle in the Netherlands, you have a duty to integrate and must take a civic integration exam. Once you have done so, you will be able to take training courses and you will have a better chance of finding work.
Newcomers must know, for example:

  • how to find work;
  • how to make a hospital appointment;
  • what kinds of school are available (if they have children).

Exemptions from the compulsory civic integration exam

Some newcomers are not required to take the civic integration exam, for example if they have a mental or physical disability.

Loans available for integration and language courses

If you are obliged to integrate, you may be eligible for a government loan to take a civic integration or language course.

Preparatory course for civic integration

Newcomers can take a civic integration course to prepare for the civic integration exam. Asylum seekers can voluntarily start the course during their stay in an asylum seekers centre.

Make an effort to integrate

The government consistently monitors the effort migrants make to integrate. If you do not make enough effort, you may lose your residence permit. This will not happen if you have a right to asylum but even then you must still make an effort to integrate.

Increasing the participation of migrants

Learning the language opens the door to Dutch society. It is also important that foreign nationals know their rights and obligations and understand the fundamental values of Dutch society.

Participation statement

Some municipalities are piloting a participation statement for newcomers in 2014. The participation statement welcomes newcomers to the Netherlands and informs them of their rights and obligations and of the fundamental values of Dutch society. These values are the written and unwritten rules of social interaction. During the pilot period, each participating municipality will organise its own activities and meetings to promote participation.