expatica.com, Jul. 12
AMSTERDAM − There was a large decline in the number of applications for Dutch citizenship in the first four months of this year, figures from the Immigration and Naturalisation Service IND have indicated.
Amid several incorrect Dutch media reports, a Justice Ministry spokesman confirmed to Expatica on Monday that the IND now expects just 24,000 applications for naturalisation this year compared with 32,000 in 2003.
The spokesman said the original report published on Saturday in quality Dutch daily newspaper De Volkskrant was correct. But he also said that that the IND cannot be blamed for the fact that journalists of other new services incorrectly reported the figures.
Despite this, the spokesman said he would contact the various organisations, such as Dutch public news service NOS, to request that the error be corrected. News agency ANP, newspaper De Telegraaf and the website nu.nl also published incorrect figures.
The 24,000 requests for citizenship is an IND estimation for the full 12 months of this year and is not the total number of lodged applications recorded in the first four months of this year, as stated in several media reports.
Meanwhile, the IND attributed the decline to the compulsory exam immigrants must pass before gaining Dutch citizenship. The exam has been compulsory since April 2003 and tests an immigrant’s knowledge of the Dutch language and society.
Only those people who have been in the Netherlands for five years may be permitted to sit an exam. For the foreign partners of Dutch nationals, the minimum period is three years.
The IND also said the reduced number of citizenship applications is due to the fewer applications for asylum. In the first six months of 2004, there were just 4,832 compared with 7,466 in the same period last year, a decline of 35 percent.
Since tougher asylum seekers regulations were introduced in 2001, the number of requests for asylum has fallen from about 43,500 in 2000 to just 13,400 last year.