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Netherlands: Ministerial Letter Issued to New Asylum Seekers

(Mar. 14, 2016) On February 18, 2016, the State Secretary for Security and Justice of the Netherlands, K.H.D.M. Dijkhoff, issued a letter to asylum seekers advising them that the total period within which the Immigration and Naturalisation Service (IND) will make a decision on requests for asylum by new asylum seekers will be extended to 15 months from the current waiting period of at most seven months. The letter further stated that the applications of asylum seekers coming from safe countries “will be rejected quickly” and that asylum seekers previously registered in another country of the European Union “must also leave the Netherlands as soon as possible.”   (New Letter Issued to Asylum Seekers, Ministry of Security and Justice website (Feb. 18, 2016).)

Applicants allowed to stay in the Netherlands will be given a temporary asylum permit, the letter points out, but rejected asylum seekers, who are required to leave the Netherlands without delay, are responsible for their own departures. Those who fail to comply will have their departures arranged by the Dutch Repatriation and Departure Service.   (Brief van de staatssecretaris van Veiligheid en Justitie aan asielzoekers aan de grens (Engels) [Letter of the State Secretary of Security and Justice to Asylum Seekers at the Border (English) (Letter) (Feb. 11, 2016), Government of the Netherlands website, https://www.rijksoverheid.nl/documenten/brieven/2016/02/18/brief-van-de-staatssecretaris-van-veiligheid-en-justitie-aan-asielzoekers-aan-de-grens-engels.)

The letter indicates that the reason why asylum seekers are temporarily housed in emergency reception locations with limited facilities is because there are not enough places for the asylum seekers in the regular Dutch reception centers, and it is possible that the asylum seekers “will be transferred on several occasions to another reception location.” (New Letter Issued to Asylum Seekers; Letter, supra.) Asylum seekers who have their own assets or income are required to report this to the authorities and “may have to give up part of their assets or income in order to contribute to their own reception costs and the reception costs of their family.”  (New Letter Issued to Asylum Seekers, supra.)

For those who have an asylum permit, the letter states, “there is currently a very long waiting period” before accommodation is assigned. Because of the shortage of accommodations, the kind available “may take the form of a container home or a converted office building” and  possibly entail spending “a long time sharing accommodation with others.”   (Letter, supra.)

In addition, the letter informs new asylum seekers that the family reunification procedure may be prolonged because of the large number of applications.   The IND currently has six months in which to make a decision on family reunification, the letter notes,  which “means that all told it could take over two years” for a family to be reunited  “depending on your personal situation.”  (Id.; see also Asylum, Immigration and Naturalisation Service of the Ministry of State Security and Justice website (last visited Mar. 7, 2016); Danielle Zevulun & Geert Lamers, The Netherlands: The Asylum Procedure in the Netherlands, DUBLIN II REGULATION NATIONAL REPORT (Feb. 18, 2013) (click on hyperlink “National Report for the Netherlands” in left-hand column; Vreedelingenwet 2000 [Aliens Act 2000] (Nov. 23, 2000, as last amended effective July 20, 2015), OVERHEID.NL; Vreemdelingenbesluit 2000 [Aliens Decree 2000] (Nov. 23, 2000, as last amended effective Mar. 1, 2016), OVERHEID.NL.)