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Country Update 2021: THE NETHERLANDS

Contributed by: Bram van Melle & Thomas van Houwelingen (Everaert Immigration Lawyers)

June 2019 to May 2021

1. Country Overview

Obviously, immigration to the Netherlands was influenced by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Travel Restrictions recommended by the European Commission were applied rather strictly by the Dutch authorities, which lead to many queries, mostly related to short-term visits of family members and business visitors.

2. Legislative Changes

A new act on integration, which lifts the language level of the integration exam to B1, will be implemented on 1 January 2022.

3. Business Immigration

Since 1 June 2021, a pilot programme was created for start-up companies wanting to hire non-EU personnel. Innovative businesses, with a product new to the Dutch economy, can now hire essential personnel. A maximum of 5 foreign employees of the start-up will receive a residence permit for essential start-up personnel. The employee must be an expert in their field, and must have a share of at least 1% in the company. It remains to be seen if this form residence will be successful, as the application is not only treated by the Immigration Service, but also by the Ministry of Economic Affairs, which is known to be quite stringent when it comes to advising on innovative businesses.

4. Family based immigration

There were no significant policy changes, although there was a great deal of litigation as a result of questions surrounding the scope of residence permits based on ECJ case Chavez-Vilchez case (C-133/15). The Dutch Council of State regards the right of residence as temporary in nature (cannot be renewed after child turns 18) which leads to many problems for permit holders in obtaining permanent residence or Dutch citizenship. Even though the Council of State seems to consider the temporary nature of the residence right to be an acte clair, fortunately the district court in Amsterdam was not that sure and asked the ECJ for a preliminary ruling on the matter on 24 November 2020, case C-624/20 (E.K.).

5. Asylum

The Dutch Immigration Service´s Asylum Unit has a significant backlog. As a result, many asylum seekers are waiting up to two years before their case is finally processed. A “task force” did not lead to any positive change. The right to send a notice of late decision to the Immigration Service was even discarded for asylum seekers. The State had to pay millions in penalty payments for late decisions, but instead of speeding up the procedure they decided to take away the one instrument asylum seekers has to speed up the process and at least be reimbursed for late decisions.

6. Deportation

The diplomatic ties between the Netherlands and Morocco have deteriorated in the past couple of years. This is because the Netherlands wishes to return refused Moroccan asylum seekers to Morocco.

Morocco however refuses to issue new passports and/or laissez-passers. Therefore, many Moroccans who were scheduled to be deported were detained by the Dutch State to guarantee their deportation. Now that they can, in fact, not be brought back to Morocco, the Council of State ruled that practically all Moroccan nationals cannot be detained any longer.

7. Citizenship

There have been a number of cases in which citizenship was stripped of Dutch nationals who travelled to Syria to fight. The Council of State found that there was no violation of European Convention on Nationality, not a disproportionate loss of EU citizenship (see Tjebbes and Rottman cases). It is important to note that the law enabling the stripping of citizenship is only applicable to dual citizenship (so as not to make someone stateless).

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