Senate approves changes to the Civic Integration Act

From 2013, migrants with regular residence permits who are obliged to sit the civic integration exam will have to pay for the necessary preparation. If they lack the means, they qualify for a soft loan to pay for their courses and examination. This only needs to be paid back once their earnings have reached a set level. Migrants from the EU and Turkey also qualify for such loans if they undertake civil integration voluntarily. The government will ensure that there are sufficient accredited courses available.

This is one of the changes to the Civic Integration Act affecting the compulsory integration of migrants that has just been approved by the Senate. One of the most significant changes is that the practical examination and various modalities for testing civic integration are being replaced by a single central exam.

Migrants who – through their own fault – fail to pass their integration examination within three years can have their temporary regular residence permit withdrawn. If their permit cannot be withdrawn, for instance because they are recognised asylum seekers, a fine can be imposed for not passing the examination on time.

Local authorities will be allocated €1,000 per person for initial support for asylum seekers admitted to the Netherlands. Gerd Leers, Minister for Immigration, Integration and Asylum Policy, has earmarked over €5 million for this purpose.

Local authorities will continue to be responsible for the civic integration of migrants who started the integration process before 1 January 2013, and will be given funding for this purpose into next year.