AMSTERDAM—Dubbed by green-left GroenLinks opposition MPs as “inhuman”, Immigration Minister Rita Verdonk has confirmed plans to force Dutch residents to earn a net monthly income of EUR 1,319 before being allowed to bring their foreign partner into the Netherlands.
Verdonk presented her legislative proposal to the Dutch Parliament on Thursday night, explaining the new income level demand will increase to 120 percent of the minimum wage. This represents a rise of EUR 230 on current regulations.
MPs had demanded the explanation from the Liberal VVD minister because it remained unclear whether the proposed requirement was a gross or net income, news agency ANP reported
In a two-part plan, Dutch residents will also in future need to be aged 21—instead of the present 18—before they can bring their foreign partner into the country.
The new regulations will come into force from 1 November and are designed to reduce immigration for the purposes of marriage. The Cabinet believes marriage immigrants do not integrate well into Dutch society.
A parliamentary majority made up of the Christian Democrat CDA, Liberal VVD, Democrat D66, populist LPF and small Christian party SGP have backed the proposals. The parties said these were the first step towards a full package of policies aimed at stimulating integration.
Furthermore, the LPF is also calling on Minister Verdonk to demand that marriage immigrants possess adequate housing. The minister said the proposal needed further examination.
Starting from mid-2005, non-European Union nationals who wish to immigrate permanently to the Netherlands will be required to pass an integration exam in their home country prior to arrival.
The Netherlands is believed to be the first country implementing such plans, but expat workers, students and academics will be excluded from the pre-arrival integration exams.
Opposition parties Labour PvdA and the Socialist Party (SP) raised doubts about the effects of the proposals, with the PvdA demanding instead that more stringent education demands be imposed on the entry of marriage immigrants.
PvdA MP Jeroen Dijsselbloem also said claimed there were legal issues still remaining that will eventually be fought out in court.
But the SP said placing an education demand on immigrants would be too arbitrary and lead to a social divide. It also opposed calls for marriage immigrants to have adequate housing, pointing out that there is already a housing shortage for young starters.
Green-left GroenLinks was unbridled in its criticism of the plans though, calling them inhuman and out of proportion. MP Naima Azough said it was bizarre that the Cabinet saw marriage immigration as a threat to public order and society.
The proposals are the latest moves by the Dutch government aimed at restricting immigration. New arrivals are already being subjected to forced integration courses and tougher laws have greatly reduced the number of asylum seekers since being introduced in April 2001.