By A. G. Kleijweg
This article is intended to make readers aware of the obligation of the civic integration in The Netherlands. It does not contain detailed information about any situation, it is just showing there is something to pay attention to and where to get information.
For whom is this article relevant?
It’s for those that are obligated to integrate after 01 January 2013. In general terms that is anyone who obtained a residence permit since that date. Think of people who received a permit as dependant of another person and want an independent permit. Also those who want a long term residence permit or want to obtain the Dutch nationality. Basically this is relevant for almost every migrant.
Who need to pass the civic integration examination in The Netherlands?
After the change of the integration law in 2013, one must first have passed the civic integration examination in the Netherlands to change the purpose of the residence permit into a continued residence or permanent residence and you are at least 18 and you have not yet reached your AOW pension age.
If you must integrate, then you are supposed to receive a letter from the Dienst Uitvoering Onderwijs (DUO) – see www.duo.nl. The letter from DUO will tell you since which date you became obligated to integrate. It is important to know whether you became obligated to integrate before or after 1 January 2015. The letter will tell you that you have 3 years to integrate (the integration period).
You must pass your integration exam within this integration period. Please note that you are responsible for your own civic integration examination in the Netherlands so you have to take action yourself.
What if I do not want to take the exams?
If you do not fulfil the obligation you can be fined. If the DUO decides that you have not done enough for your integration, you will receive a penalty from the DUO. The penalty will be between 250 to 1250 Euros. Besides the penalty you will receive extra time to pass the civic integration examination in the Netherlands. So, just paying the fine will not be sufficient to be relieved of the obligation to take the exams.
Also, those who have a residence permit to stay with a partner or husband, and want a permit for prolonged stay after the relationship ended, must have fulfilled the inburgerings obligation. If not, the residence permit will not be changed, ending in not having a residence permit.
What to do then?
In my opinion it would be wise to follow an integration-course, study hard and pass the exams successfully. I believe that some things you do not have to like, but must just get over it and done with it. If you do not, it is likely to cause you serious trouble later on.
It is possible to protest and start all kind of procedures against this obligation to integrate, but why? Be realistic, it is a good thing to speak the language and know the rules of the country you live in. It saves you a lot of trouble and missed opportunities.
With that in mind, you must also realize that there are not much solid legal argument against the fact that this obligation is imposed on migrants. Maybe in some cases there will be successful procedures against the obligation, but in general, I do not see much chance of success in fighting the obligation in court. Then you better spend the money and time on other things.
So I would say, go to www.inburgeren.nl and see how you can get over and done with the matter. Or, get officially established by the authorities that you do not have to fulfil the obligation. Never wait until you get in trouble before you take action; do it before it becomes urgent.
Exemptions from the integration obligation
The most common exemption from the integration obligation is if you already have a Dutch diploma or you are in an academic programme studying in Dutch. In this case, you may not have to take one or more exams. For more information about the exemption from the integration obligation you could also visit www.ind.nl
Are there other exceptions to the rule?
Yes there are, but only in exceptional cases and that is not often the case. There are three other reasons why you could get an exemption from the integration obligation.
First reason is that you receive an exemption because you have done enough to integrate. This is called providing demonstrable proof of effort. There are two ways to receive an exemption because of demonstrable proof of effort. You must satisfy the conditions.
In the case where you have taken an integration course you must satisfy the following two conditions: (1) You have completed at least 600 hours of an integration course, but only certain schools are allowed. Only a schools listed on the website www.blikopwerk.nl are acceptable; (2) You tried four or more times to pass the exams but failed every time.
If you cannot read or write Dutch well enough to integrate, you must prove this with a test which must be taken at DUO. The test cost € 150, and DUO will decide whether you may take the test.
The second reason to receive an exemption is because you are sufficiently well integrated.
Have you lived in the Netherlands for ten years and nowhere else? And, have you worked in the Netherlands for more than five years? And, are you fluent in Dutch? In this case, you may no longer need to take the integration exams. You will then receive an exemption on request. Send in the exemption form. You must also send in the employers statement. Before you receive an exemption you first must attend an appointment with DUO, and this appointment cost € 90. After this appointment, DUO will decide whether or not you will receive the exemption or not.
The third reason is that you receive an exemption because of your medical circumstances.
Are you unable to take the exams because you are seriously ill or, because you have a handicap? Then, you can request an exemption. Then, you will not have to take the integration exams. Go to the site www.argonaut.nl for information.
You will receive a medical check-up by a doctor from Argonaut, an institution that is appointed to investigate whether one is able to take the exams or not. The check up is not free of charge. The doctor from Argonaut will give a statement whether you can integrate or not but in the end DUO will decide whether you receive the exemption.
You could find the abovementioned forms and information also at www.inburgeren.nl.
Is it wise to seek an exemption?
Yes it is, but only if you are really sure of your case. Exemptions are not easily given. So the fact one is not a good and eager student, one has some medical problems, one cannot read very well, all that is not enough for an exemption. It has to be really serious before one gets an exemption.
Also it is important to realize that if there is a serious reason for asking for an exemption, one must ask for them timely. Waiting until there is no other option left has a negative influence on the situation. So, again, take action as soon as possible.
What can we do for you in matters like these?
For this kind of problems you do not need a lawyer. You can take action and gather information via internet and with the help of friends, family and supporting people. In my experience, many problems can be solved by timely seeking support. For information about organisations that can help you see www.wereldhuis.org, www.kariboebibi.nl, www.stekdenhaag.nl and www.hetjl.nl
Only if one has a real problem, for instance one received a serious fine, one’s request for an exemption has been rejected or there are problems for instance with immigration, it is needed to contact a lawyer.
Want to visit our office?
Of course our office does not only practice immigration law, but also family law, criminal law labour law and so on. Since several lawyers work in our office with their own specialism, it is important to make clear what the problem is, so an appointment can be made with a lawyer that is qualified to handle your case. Readers are therefore welcome to visit our office for FREE consultation and for support with the application. Have a look at our website www.skv-advocatenkantoor.nl to learn more about our office. For an appointment call 070 427 3215 and explain to our Secretary what your question is. To learn more about our office, you can also take a look at our web-site: www.skv-advocatenkantoor.nl 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 – firstname.lastname@example.org / email@example.com