Connecticut, US

Aug 27 2019

Changes to Civic Integration System Forthcoming

Netherlands

At a Glance

  • Proposed legislation in the Netherlands that would become effective July 2020 would change the civic integration process which is mandatory for some foreign nationals, such as dependents of Dutch nationals, asylum seekers and foreign nationals who voluntarily choose to apply for Dutch nationality or long-term residence.
  • Under the proposed rules, foreign nationals would need to complete one of three new integration routes based on their existing language and educational abilities.
  • Fines would apply to foreign nationals who fail to meet the requirements where integration is mandatory, such as dependents of Dutch nationals or asylum seekers. 
  • This would not impact foreign nationals who are applying for temporary residence permits, for example permits based on employment, as Dutch immigration law exempts them from the civil integration requirement.

The situation

Draft legislation has been introduced in the Netherlands that if enacted, would change the civic integration program required for applicants applying for permanent residence or Dutch nationality, dependents of Dutch nationals and asylum seekers starting July 2020.

A closer look

Under the proposed law, the following rules would be enacted:

  • Expanded municipal authority. Where integration is mandatory, municipalities would be granted authority to create an individualised integration plan for each applicant. Municipalities would be able to assign one of three new learning paths depending on the language and educational ability of the foreign national.
  • Streamlined integration paths. Three paths would be available for foreign nationals:
Path Details
B1 path This is likely to be the most common path and is focused on foreign nationals learning to speak, listen, read and write in Dutch up to Level B1 Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR), whereas currently the required level is A2. An exemption would be available for those who cannot meet the B1 requirement after sufficient efforts have been made.
Educational path This path would be available to foreign nationals age 28 or under who are not expected to meet the B1 language requirement, for example asylum seekers. It is expected to involve approximately 1,000 hours of Dutch, combined with other classes to obtain the necessary skills to prepare for higher education and integrate into Dutch society via work and education.
Z route This route would only be available to those who cannot meet the above two routes. It would involve 1,600 hours of training to meet level A1 CEFR and obtain knowledge of Dutch society.

 

  • Additional training. Some foreign nationals would need to also complete 12 hours of training on Dutch values and confirm that they would adhere to principles and rules applicable to Dutch society. Further legislation may include exemptions to these requirements.

 

Impact

  • Fines for noncompliance. Fines of up to EUR 1,340 would apply to foreign nationals who fail to meet the new requirements where integration is mandatory, such as dependents of Dutch nationals or asylum seekers. 
  • Exemptions.
    • Dependents from certain countries. Note that dependents of many nationalities are exempt from the integration requirement, for example those from Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea, Switzerland, United States of America, and Vatican City.
    • Employment and other permit holders. This would not impact foreign nationals who are applying for temporary residence permits, for example permits based on employment, as Dutch immigration law exempts them from the civil integration requirement.

 

Background

  • Integration concerns. The changes seek to address concern in the Netherlands of low take up of integration markers such as language, educational skills and work participation and to speed up the integration process.

Looking ahead

  • More information ahead. Further legislation will specify exemptions to the requirements and confirm the nature of the additional participation projects.
  • Region likely to expand integration rules. As concerns relating to integration continue to rise, Fragomen expects the Netherlands and other countries in the region to continue to apply stricter integration requirements for applicants who are applying to relocate or settle permanently in their host country. It is likely that additional compliance checks and increased scrutiny will be applied to civic integration and language requirements going forward, and foreign nationals should expect stricter penalties for noncompliance.
  • Labor shortages may bring exceptions. However, if labor shortages continue across the region, easier routes to settlement are likely to be introduced for specific categories of highly-skilled workers and their family members to attract global talent.

 

This alert is for informational purposes only. If you have any questions, please contact the global immigration professional with whom you work with at Fragomen or send an email to beneluxinfo@fragomen.com