Dutch immigration office buckling under pressure, calls for fundamental changes

May 23, 2023 -NL Times News -The Dutch immigration and naturalization office, IND, indicated it is barely capable of coping with current work levels, and will advocate for “fundamentally different choices in migration policy.” In a report released on Tuesday about the office’s state of affairs, the service warned that it is “reaching its limits.”

Not only is the number of asylum applications increasing, but also the number of applications from knowledge workers, labor migrants and international students who want to stay in the Netherlands. In addition, the policy is becoming “increasingly complex,” and that legislation obliges the service to mandatory interactions which are of no use at all in practice.

Rhodia Maas, Director-General of IND, outlined that her service is facing an “impossible divide.” Because the decisions of the service have a major impact, IND wants to be able to “take the time to listen to the personal story of applicants.” At the same time, employees are under pressure to handle requests quickly.

The government expects more than 70,000 asylum seekers to arrive in the Netherlands this year. The capacity to handle all of those requests is currently insufficient. IND then has to pay penalty payments more frequently because decisions take too long. It is not an unwillingness to move more quickly, “but there is too little capacity to handle the increasing number of applications within the legal term,” Maas wrote.

“And it is painful to note that this will not change for the time being,” the top official added. It is therefore urgently necessary to have a rethink about how migration and immigration policy “remains manageable and feasible.”

To begin with, the service wants to make long-term agreements with the Ministry of Justice and Security, which has oversight over IND. It is now determined annually how many applications the IND must process. That is “much too short to set up a stable organization,” the office said. “For a solid foundation, we need to be able to look ahead at least five years.”

Rules also sometimes get in the way. For example, judges are setting ever higher requirements for the substantiation of rejections. Also, according to the IND, “there are too many [interaction] moments that are required by law and regulations, but which are superfluous for the IND and the applicant.”

Another problem is the family reunification procedure. If an asylum application has been granted, parents and children of someone with residency status may also be brought to the Netherlands. If there are adult children involved, they sometimes bring over their own partner and children. “The family reunification procedure is not intended for this,” IND said.

Reporting by ANP

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