Irregular migrants & access to medical care

Dear Readers,

This piece first appeared in this column in the May 2013 edition of The African Bulletin. However, due to its importance, it’s worth repeating!

In my previous articles, I have always provided you with information, usually about immigration matters. Now it is my turn to ask TAB readers for information and advice.

As a law firm, we always try to improve the services that we provide our clients. What I would like to know is what problems the readers are coping with? What information and on which subjects matter would you like me to write about? Please let us know so that we can inform you TAB readers better.

This month’s subject matter is about irregular migrants and medical care.

I want to inform the readers about the possibilities for irregular immigrants to have access to medical care. Believe it or not, some people think that irregular migrants have no access to medical care at all.

That is a misconception. I will not go into details because this subject is rather complicated, but in case of an urgent need for medical care, any required care is expected to be given by the general practitioner, the hospital, the midwife and other medical professionals. So, in case of medical problems, seek medical assistance and be honest about the situation.

Medical problems and immigration law

Those who are not supposed to stay in The Netherlands are legally obliged to leave the country. If one does not, one can be detained and expelled; so is the law. However, there is an exception to this rule for those who cannot travel because of medical reasons.

If the Immigration authority comes to the conclusion that because of medical problems one really cannot travel, one is granted “uitstel van vertrek” (postponement of departure) which means that one temporarily will not be expelled for the duration of the medical situation. One then will temporarily become a regular immigrant with a short term status.

When is this the case?

This medical problem must be very serious because only in case of a possible medical emergency when the person concerned gets expelled, that this exception to the rule is applicable. If and when such is the case is hard to tell by a lawyer. Each individual case is up to the medical professionals to decide.

In some cases it is clear that the temporary status will be granted. For those close to the end of their lives, such status will be granted on humanitarian grounds.

Most important group on which the exception is applicable are pregnant women. The temporary status will be granted from six weeks before the expected date of birth until six weeks after the expected date of birth. This is important because there is not only the temporary status but also there are some benefits attached to it.

One of the benefits is an official health-insurance that covers the costs of the midwife, the general practitioner and if necessary the hospital. A limited financial allowance can be asked for and if the woman is homeless, she will be offered shelter for the duration of her temporary status. This means that in The Netherlands, no woman has to give birth to her child and that no child has to be born into this world, without the required medical care.

If not living in The Netherlands, it is likely that more or less the same options are available. However, it is best to get informed locally.

What to do?

If one is pregnant, or one is really in a very bad medical situation, maybe even at the end of one’s life, one could ask for this “uitstel van vertrek”. The request is not restricted to any kind of application form. A letter to the immigration authority with an explanation that you cannot travel should be enough. That at least is the theory.

In reality one might need assistance with filing the application. It is advisable to seek assistance of organisations or persons who have knowledge of immigration matters or an immigration lawyer. In any case it is important that you provide as much as possible information about your medical treatment to the person that is assisting with the application.

What to do when you want to visit our office?

Readers who are in any immigration related matter in need of legal support are welcome to visit our office for FREE consultation and for support with the application.

For an appointment call 070 427 3215 and explain to our Secretary what your question is.

Do not hold information back because our Secretary will decide if and when an appointment is possible and which of our lawyers is best qualified for the specific problem.

When you come to the appointment, bring all information that is available. Only then can we judge the case and do make good use of the time.

*A.G. Kleijweg. Balen van Andelplein 2e, 2273 KH Voorburg – 070.427.3215 – /