Posted on March 16, 2006

Black Page Greets Integration Test for Migrants

Expatica, March 15, 2006

AMSTERDAM—A group representing Dutch citizens who want to bring a partner into the country has described the introduction of the integration exam as a dark day in Dutch history.

“As the new law compelling potential migrants to take an integration course abroad comes into effect on 15 March the Netherlands is almost completely locked off,” Paul Streumer of the foundation Buitenlanse Partners told Expatica on Wednesday.

Streumer’s organisation replaced its normal website homepage with a black page to mark the event, which the group said is “black day in the history of every Dutch person who wants to live in the Netherlands with his or her foreign partner”.

The introduction of the civil integration examination abroad has been closely watched in other countries as the Netherlands now has changed from having one of the most liberal to one of the strictest migration regimes in the western world.

The law (known as WIB in Dutch) covers people who wish to form a family with someone in the Netherlands (for example, through marriage or by forming a relationship) and to religious leaders coming to the Netherlands for employment, such as imams or preachers.

Several nationalities—including EU citizens, Americans, Australians and Swiss people—do not have to take the exam (see below).

“[But] in many cases, obtaining the integration examination becomes an additional condition needing to be met before a temporary stay MVV visa can be issued,” the Dutch Immigration Service (IND) said.

The lesson material provided for people studying for the integration exam has been the issue that has really interested the foreign media. The video made to illustrate Dutch life shows gay men kissing and topless women on the beach.

As possession of such images are illegal in some countries, a ‘sanitised’ version has been made without the breasts and gay kissing.

Streumer said on Wednesday imposing the integration tests on the partners of Dutch citizens meant the Netherlands is no longer an open society. “The Netherlands is sticking up its finger at the people who love this country and its residents most—our partners.”

He said the exam is the last of three restrictive measures unveiled in 2004 by Immigration Minister Rita Verdonk.

Verdonk—who enjoys her nickname Iron Rita—has already increased the fees for immigration applications above those charged in other European countries.

“As a result of serious delays at the IND and the doubling of checks the immigration process for non-European partners now takes 18 months—withe the costs driven up to EUR 11,000,” Streumer said.

Verdonk also toughened up the income requirement for the Dutch partner and this Streumer claimed has excluded 67 percent of Dutch women and 83 percent of all working people under 25 from bringing in a foreign loved one. The integration exam is an additional hurdle for many applicants.

“The content of the exam is controversial, the technical aspects of the speech-recognition technology has been called into question and the possibility to learn Dutch abroad often does not exist,” he said.

Click here for the IND’s information on the integration exam.

The following groups are exempted from taking the test:

—EU citizens

—Persons of American, Canadian, Australian, Icelandic, Japanese, Liechtenstein, Monegasque, New Zealand, Norwegian, Swiss, or Vatican nationality

—Surinamese people with a primary education in Dutch

—Persons who are coming for a temporary reason

—Persons with a work permit and their family members

—The self-employed

—Knowledge migrants;

—Family members of an accepted asylum-seeker