AMSTERDAM—It will take at least another year before would-be permanent immigrants will be required to complete an integration exam in their country of origin before being allowed entry to the Netherlands.
A spokeswoman from the Justice Ministry said legislation paving the way for compulsory pre-arrival immigration will not take effect until 2005 “at the earliest”, news agency ANP reported.
The ministry published on Tuesday the legislative proposal outlining the regulations and conditions to be imposed on immigrants required to complete an integration exam. The legislation must still be passed by the Dutch Parliament.
But if the legislation is passed as expected, future immigrants will be required to independently develop their knowledge of the Dutch language and culture in their home country. The proposal from Immigration Minister Rita Verdonk will also force immigrants to pay EUR 350 to sit the exam.
The aim is that immigrants who wish to permanently settle in the Netherlands to join their partner or other family members will need to start the process of integration in their countries of origin.
The Netherlands is the first country to introduce such a demand on immigrants. Pressure to integrate after immigrants arrive is already known in several other western nations.
But students, au pairs and temporary visitors or expats will not need to complete an exam before arriving in the Netherlands.
Permanent immigrants to the Netherlands from EU member states, Switzerland, the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Japan—plus Antillean nationals—will not need to complete an exam before arrival either.
And asylum seekers will only be required to start the lengthy process of integration after they have arrived in the Netherlands.
The legislative proposal is evidently focused at immigrants from countries such as Morocco and Turkey. Many Moroccan and Turkish people already living in the Netherlands bring their partners here from their ancestral homes.
There has been a loud outcry against the inflow of immigrants into the Netherlands in recent years, and despite the assassination of outspoken anti-immigrant politician Pim Fortuyn in May 2002, the anti-immigration atmosphere has grown.
Dutch political parties have largely embraced his ideas as the nation moves to restrict immigration and harmonise social polarisation. But Fortuyn was not only to blame. Restrictive legislation against asylum seekers came into force back in April 2001, long before Fortuyn burst onto the political climate.
Meanwhile, the Christian Democrat CDA, Liberal VVD and Democrat D66 coalition government’s proposal means that preparations for the integration exam will be largely the responsibility of the immigrant. The exam will be conducted in their home country at a Dutch embassy or consulate.