May I first of all wish all readers a prosperous New Year!
In this edition of The African Bulletin, I want to write about something positive and there is one problem that always bothered me and now seems to be solved.
For those immigrants who are in The Netherlands and who are at the end of their possibilities, like those who fell gravely ill, who are here already over thirty years and still do not have a permit but have not been expelled either. Children who are born and raised here and still do not have a permit, it is required to apply for a residence permit on humanitarian grounds.
When someone applies for a residence permit, one must pay the Immigration Authority a fee for the processing of the application. This handling fee is called “leges”. For different sorts of residence permits there are different leges. It can be something between Euro 50.- and up to Euro 950.-. If the leges are not paid, the application will be rejected without it being processed at all.
One would expect that those who are at least financially “down and out” like the persons described above, the leges would be as low as possible. One was wrong to think so, as it was they who had to pay the full Euro 950.- for the application. Result of this policy was that up to now it was practically impossible to apply and have your application processed, unless one paid. So, those who needed their application processed most could not pay for it.
Theoretically, it was possible to be relieved of the obligation to pay leges but the Immigration Authority was so extremely formalistic in judging the requests for exemption of leges that I do not personally remember cases in which the request was granted. Many appeals have been made against this policy but all-in vain, until the 06 December 2016.
That day the court, sitting with three judges instead of one, judged that indeed the policy of the IND to be so very restrictive that effectively nobody met the requirements for exemption of leges was extremely formalistic and that the Immigration Authority should be much more lenient. The court even gave some rules to follow in cases like this. This judgement made me very happy for at least two reasons. First, now the most vulnerable persons can apply and get their application processed. Second, the judgement was in one of my cases. so that gave me much encouragement.
Will this judgement change everything for sure?
No, not yet. First of all it is a judgement by one court. Although it was a judgement by a multiple chamber of the court, which has a lot of authority, and the judgement is very well motivated, there is no certainty that other courts will follow this judgement. However, it is likely. Also the Immigration Authority can file an appeal against this judgement.
The High Court could quash the judgement. Personally, I believe that the judgement will not be quashed because it is so sensible and so well motivated. Although it is not yet 100% sure that this is the new policy the Immigration Authority has to follow, I believe it will be and that it is reasonable to anticipate on that change of policy.
For which people is this article relevant?
For those who believe on good grounds that they should apply for a permit on humanitarian grounds, it would be wise to inform themselves about the options and if there are really good reasons to apply, do that together with a well-motivated request for exemption of the ‘leges’.
Please take note of the fact that only very few people qualify for a permit on humanitarian grounds. One must understand that just wanting a permit badly is not enough. It is important that one does not request for a permit while one (or ones lawyer) should know beforehand that filing the application is not sensible.
However, I hope that this likely and much anticipated change will benefit those who really need it.
What to do next?
Those who want to apply for any kind of permit should think twice before doing so. First get proper advice about the situation. It is best to ask Het Juridisch Loket for advice. Go to www.juridischloket.nl and call for an appointment. The people from the Juridisch Loket are helpful and give good advice. If after that one wants to visit a lawyer for the procedure, make sure your lawyer is qualified. That is easily verifiable. Go to the website of the Specialisten Vereniging Migratierecht Advocaten www.svma.nl and look at the list of members. If your lawyer is on that list, he or she specialises in immigration law. And yes, of course, I am on that list too.
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 can also help in cases of family law, problems with welfare, employment, the landlord, criminal law, labour law and so on.
In our office, several lawyers work with their own specialism, so an appointment can be made with a lawyer that is qualified to handle your case.
Have a look at our web-site 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.
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