Common problems of family-reunion

Dear Readers,

In this edition of The African Bulletin I write about one of the common problems concerning family-reunion. That is the requirement to have a sufficient and durable income to support the partner of spouse who intends to settle in The Netherlands.

The rules and regulations I describe are applicable in The Netherlands, but in other European countries similar rules and exceptions to the rules are applicable. So, in case one does not live in The Netherlands, then ask an immigration lawyer in your own country of residence for information.

What is this requirement?

The requirement in general is that the partner or spouse living in The Netherlands (hereafter the referent) must have a sufficient and durable income.

The income is sufficient when it at least equals the minimum income for a fulltime job which at the moment is € 1.551,60 bruto (before taxes).

The income is durable when it (at least) will last for a full year after the date of the application for family-reunion. For a self-employed person, the income is durable when it has been so for at least one and a half year before the date of application.

Most people are aware of this requirement and wisely do not apply before they make sure they meet the requirement. However, sometimes it happens that people are not aware of the possible exceptions and they do not apply. Reason for this article!

Why is there such a requirement?

It is hard enough to earn a stable income for one person, let alone for a family. Those who are not able to provide for their own livelihood are not likely to be able to provide for their family. In that case, necessarily welfare will be requested and the invited spouse or partner will become an additional financial burden for the taxpayers in The Netherlands. To prevent this, this requirement is set to prevent that a residential status is granted to new migrants for whom the referent is not able to earn a living.

Although the rule is acceptable in general, quite a few people find it hard to meet the requirement. Such is often the case when people are working on temporary working contracts or who recently started their own business. Saddest are the cases of people who would like to work but for medical reasons are not able to do so. For these specific cases, there are exceptions to the rules.

What are the exceptions to the rule?

There is an exception for pensioners. If one is over the age of 65 years one is not required to work anymore so the requirement is waived.

For those who are able to earn a living but because of their lifestyle and their line of work, are often employed on short term contracts, there is also an exception. They will be able to meet the requirement if they have been working for at least three consecutive years without making use of welfare and if they still have a contract for at least six months from the date of the application for family-reunion.

For those who because of medical reasons are not able to work there are some possibilities. What the options are depends on the sort of income one is receiving. The legal system is so complicated that I cannot describe it in detail in this article. Rule is that it must be officially established that one is really not able to work and will not be able to work in the near future.

Establishing the medical situation can be done by or on request of the institution that provides the income one is receiving. Therefore it is wise to ask for such a statement about ones capacity to work, before one file any application for family-reunion.

There is also an EU directive concerning family-reunion and also a substantial amount of case law in individual cases but one should not think that as a rule one is entitled to family reunion. The economical interest of the receiving state is substantial and is in general respected by acceptance of the requirement that the referent has a sufficient and durable income.

How to get information?

For those who want family reunion but afraid of not meeting the requirement concerning the income, it is good to make inquiries first. One should not give up easily and not apply against better judgment either. That will cost money, time and energy.

For those who want to get informed, contact Het Juridisch Loket for advice ( for advise and if needed an appointment. The people from Het Loket are helpful and give good advice. Also one can visit for more information about the requirements. If after gathering information you still want to visit a lawyer for the procedure, make sure your lawyer is specialised in migration law.

What to do when you want to visit our office? 

If you have a case concerning immigration law or you are in immigration detention, we are able to support you. Our office specialises in immigration law but cooperates with other specialised lawyers if you have a problem that does not involve migration law.

Readers who are in need of legal support are welcome to visit our office for a free consultation. Have a look at our web-site and from 01 march 2017 to learn more about our office.

Readers are welcome to visit our office but of course, only after an appointment. For an appointment please call our secretary on 070 317 7700.

When you come to the appointment please bring all available information about your personal situation with you. Keep in mind that you cannot give too much information. Only on the basis of the information you provide can we judge the case and make good use of the time.

A.G. Kleijweg, Advocatenkantoor Kleijweg

Koninginnegracht 22 A, 2514 AB Den Haag

Tel: 070 317 7700