By A. G. Kleijweg*
This article is intended to make regular migrants more aware of the fact that in several countries it is compulsory to take part in integration programmes, leading to a diploma to prove that you have enough knowledge about the new home-country and the language spoken there.
Such integration diploma is usually required for obtaining the nationality of the new home-country or to get a residence permit. However, some countries are a bit more serious about the obligation to integrate and it is even possible that if you do not obtain such diploma timely, you get fined or even denied prolongation of a residential status. It’s therefore better to be well aware of the applicable laws in the country of residence.
For whom is this article written?
This article gives general information that is applicable to the situation in The Netherlands only. Those residing in other countries should ask the local municipality about the applicable rules there.
The situation before 01 January 2013
Immigration law in The Netherlands is restrictive and the law concerning integration, hereafter referred to as the Inburgeringswet is also rather tough. Basic rule is that those who are obliged to obtain an integration diploma should do so within three years after obtaining a residence permit. This obligation is applicable to most migrants with few exceptions.
Before 01 January 2013, the Inburgeringswet was also applicable but rather lenient. People required to do an integration course with a diploma could do so for free, and those who failed to do so did not get any serious sanction.
Smart migrants who saw the writing on the wall followed the free course and passed the exam. Those who were less willing to invest time and efforts or those who obtained their residence permit after 01 January 2013 now regret being too late.
The situation since 01 January 2013
From this date the Inburgeringswet has changed. Courses are still available but are not free of charge anymore. The course now cost several thousands Euros. For those who cannot afford it, the government provides a loan of maximal Euro 10.000. For more information about the obligation to obtain the integration diploma, the course and the loan, see www.inburgeren.nl and www.blikopwerk.nl/inburgeren/scholen.
There are also serious sanctions for failure to obtain the diploma within three years after obtaining the residence permit.
It is now possible to reject prolongation of a residence permit, or even withdraw a permit if the holder did not comply with the obligation to obtain an integration diploma and is to blame for that. However, not all that is possible on the basis of the Inburgeringswet is in line with other legal obligations like the obligation to respect family life. So it is very unlikely that a permit to stay with one’s wife, husband or child can be terminated just because of the failure to obtain the integration diploma. However, you can get fined for a maximum of Euro 1.250 each time on failed to obtain the diploma on time.
A loud warning
Of course there are people who are going to be victims of such a legal obligation; so the question is who will suffer from these sanctions without getting away with paying a fine?
In my opinion, the Inburgeringswet is targeting those who do have a residence permit to stay with a partner, wife or husband. As long as the family life is not interrupted, it will not be such a problem. You can get away with a hefty fine and start studying as soon as possible.
A real problem arises when the family life has ended, for instance because of divorce or other separation from the partner, wife or husband. Then the residence permit must be changed to “voortgezet verblijf”. Since there is no other legal obligation to change the permit, it can be rejected.
So for all those who have a residence permit to stay with a partner, wife or husband, be wise and obtain a integration diploma. Nobody knows how the future will unfold itself.
Are there expected positive changes in the Inburgerinsgwet?
It is not realistic to expect that the rules and regulations concerning immigration and integration in the coming years will become more lenient. So you should take control of your situation and obtain this integration diploma instead of waiting for things to get easier.
What can we do for you?
In order to get enrolled in a course, to get a loan and for your exam you do not need the assistance of a lawyer. It is always best to be self reliant so take the opportunity and sort this out yourself, with the help of family and friends. Avoiding problems is usually easier and cheaper then solving them.
If you already have problems, get a fine or the prolongation or change of your permit has been rejected, then of course you need to contact your lawyer right away. Good thing is that subsidised legal aid is available.
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