Important information in your own language

This website contains relevant information for refugees in your own language: فارسی, Somali, العربية, English, دری, Français, ትግርኛ and Türkçe. You will encounter many unfamiliar and complex things when you are new to the Netherlands. It can be hard to find the right information before you speak Dutch, but you still need to arrange all kinds of important matters. This information contains information about those matters.

Update: important information about the asylum procedure and family reunification

 

Asylum procedure

The Dutch government has announced that the decision period in the asylum procedure will be extended from six to fifteen months. The extension went into effect on 27 September. This means that people who apply for asylum in the Netherlands will generally have to wait a maximum of fifteen months before a decision is made on their asylum application. The extension applies to all asylum applications for which the decision period has not yet expired on 27 September 2022.

The IND began sending letters to inform applicants about the extension of the decision period on 9 November 2022. There are two types of letters: specific and general. The specific letter states the decision deadline. Due to technical reasons, some asylum seekers will receive the general information letter without mention of the decision deadline. The letters include a link to the IND website where you can read the information (in Dutch and English).

You can check with your lawyer to see if you can get an earlier decision on your asylum application. If you have any questions about this matter, please visit the VluchtelingenWerk consultation at your reception centre or in your municipality.

For more information about the asylum procedure, click on the “Asylum Procedure” tab at the top

Family reunification

A new measure regarding family reunification went into effect on 3 October 2022. The measure means that family members who have received permission to come to the Netherlands cannot immediately pick up their provisional residence permit at the Dutch embassy. This can only be done the following two cases:

1. If the applicant has suitable housing for the whole family;

2. If a maximum of fifteen months have passed since the application for family reunification, but within six months of the positive decision by the IND.

The measure applies to all applications for family reunification by a refugee, i.e., family migration, 8 ECHR and regular. The measure applies from 3 October 2022 to 31 December 2023.

If the application for family reunification is granted, the IND will send a letter on the assumption that the applicant does not have suitable housing and that the family members cannot immediately pick up their provisional residence permit. If the applicant receives suitable housing, it is important to report this by sending the Notification of suitable housing for family migration form to the IND. When submitting the form, include proof that the home is suitable for the entire family, such as a rental contract or statement from the housing association. VluchtelingenWerk can assist you if necessary. The IND will check with the COA whether the home is suitable. If the home is suitable, the applicant will be notified that the family members may pick up their provisional residence permit.

For more information about family reunification, click on the “Family Reunification” tab at the top

Court ruling asylum accommodation

Today, 6 October, the District Court of The Hague ruled in the summary proceedings filed by VluchtelingenWerk Nederland against the State of the Netherlands and the COA due to the refugee reception crisis.

What were our demands?

We filed the lawsuit because around 18,000 asylum seekers were housed in harmful conditions. Refugee reception has been dropping below the humanitarian bottom line for a year now; it could no longer be said to be temporary. The reception crisis is not the result of a sudden increase in asylum requests but of years of failing policy. We felt compelled to take this step because agreements between the State and municipalities stalled repeatedly, and the cabinet was unwilling to use resources to force a breakthrough. 

The situation has only worsened in the meantime. The recently announced measures will lead to even more emergency shelters. As such, the court was requested to order the State to ensure that everyone in the shelter is received in accordance with the standards of EU and international law. We also demanded that the State be immediately required to medically screen every asylum seeker and be prohibited from placing vulnerable groups such as children, pregnant women and traumatised asylum seekers in emergency shelters.

What has the judge determined and what does that mean for me?

Among other things, the judge ruled today that:

  • Effective immediately, asylum seekers must no longer be left on the streets of Ter Apel, and unaccompanied minors must be transferred from the application centre to adequate reception locations within five days;
  • Effective immediately, no vulnerable asylum seekers may be housed in emergency shelters, and there must be access to clean drinking water and decent meals everywhere;
  • Children in emergency shelters must have access to education and play facilities within four weeks;
  • Within nine months, all asylum seekers and refugees must be resettled in locations that meet the minimum legal requirements. Among other things, this means that all asylum seekers must have access to a clean reception centre with access to a shower, a sink with hot and cold water, and a working toilet. Shelters must have a bedroom with a ceiling, four walls, a door that can be locked, and a window.

 

 

What does VluchtelingenWerk think about the ruling?

VluchtelingenWerk Nederland considers it a clear and necessary ruling. It contains a clear court order to end inhumane conditions in the reception of asylum seekers. The judge ruled that effective immediately, no more asylum seekers may end up on the street in Ter Apel and that the reception in all emergency shelters must meet the minimum legal requirements again in the short term. The reception crisis is most apparent in Ter Apel, but it has been playing out in many tents, gymnasiums and event halls all over the country for more than a year. Frank Candel, voorzitter van VluchtelingenWerk Nederland: “This is a clear and necessary statement, but it is still no cause for celebration,” says Frank Candel, president of VluchtelingenWerk Nederland. “It is sad that something as basic as humane shelter requires a court ruling, and we will not be happy until no more asylum seekers are forced to sleep in a tent, gymnasium or event hall. A strict court ruling is of no help to them right now. We consider this a very important step in the right direction, however. The judge gave Secretary of State Van der Burg a strict order. It is now up to him to implement the ruling quickly.

“We hope that something as basic as humane shelter will never have to be brought before the court again,” concludes Candel.

Ter Apel and emergency accommodation

This information is intended for people staying in the reception centre in Ter Apel or who have recently been moved to emergency accommodation.

What happens in Ter Apel?

You came to Ter Apel to request asylum. Ter Apel is a town in the north of the Netherlands. Most people requesting asylum in the Netherlands have to go to Ter Apel first.

Upon arrival, you must report to the IND application centre.

An identification and registration procedure will be conducted there. The Dutch Koninklijke Marechaussee (Kmar) or police will check your baggage, photograph you and take your fingerprints. You will then be issued a personal “V-number”, under which you will be registered as an asylum seeker.

The Centraal Orgaan opvang asielzoekers (COA) also has a central reception centre in Ter Apel. The COA provides food, shelter and medical care. You will have your first interview with the IND during your stay there. This is called the reporting interview.

Insufficient accommodation in Ter Apel

Ter Apel is currently incredibly busy, and the COA does not have enough beds to accommodate everyone who arrives. You may need to spend the night on a chair, or you may not be admitted at all. Because of the long waiting times, you may be moved to another location before your identification and registration procedure has been completed. It may also take several weeks before you have your reporting interview with the IND.

Emergency accommodation

Asylum seekers are often taken to another location by bus in the evening. This is often emergency accommodation, such as a sports complex. You will be received by COA employees or employees of the municipality the emergency accommodation is in. It is currently unknown how long the emergency accommodation will remain in use. There is a good chance that you will be moved multiple times before completing your asylum procedure.

Who are we?

VluchtelingenWerk Nederland is an independent human rights organisation. We represent the interests of asylum seekers, refugees, people who have exhausted all legal means, and people travelling in connection with family reunification. VluchtelingenWerk does not make decisions regarding asylum applications, nor do we decide where asylum seekers will be taken.

What do we do?

  • We call for political attention to the situation in the reception centres on a national and local level.

  • We will keep you informed and support you during the asylum procedure.

  • If you are granted asylum, we may be able to assist you with the family reunification procedure.

  • You can also contact us if you have any other questions. We will do our best to answer them.

  • Visit www.forrefugees.nl for more information about the asylum procedure

VluchtelingenWerk takes legal action against the Dutch government

7 July 2022 – If the Dutch government fails to improve the reception of asylum seekers by 1 August, VluchtelingenWerk will take the matter to court. For months, there have not been enough places available and conditions in the emergency shelters are far below standard. Not a day passes without facing the question of whether there are enough places for refugees to spend the night. This cannot continue. VluchtelingenWerk urgently wants to see an improvement in the situation for refugees. A court ruling could force the Dutch government to find an acceptable solution. You can read the English press release on this subject here.

 


More information about corona

For more information about corona, please see:

  • Pharos.nl/coronavirus
  • Nu.nl >>
  • In this video, you can follow Mark Rutte’s part of the press conference in English, in which the prime minister brings you up to date on the measures for the coming period, so you can understand the latest news on the corona virus in your own language.

Applying for asylum in the Netherlands from abroad

VluchtelingenWerk does not decide on asylum applications or issue visas for travel to the Netherlands. In the Netherlands, the Immigratie- en Naturalisatiedienst (IND) looks into whether you qualify as a refugee on behalf of the government.

You cannot submit an asylum application to the IND from abroad. You must travel to the Netherlands first. Nor is it usually possible to obtain a visa to travel to the Netherlands to apply for asylum here. You can read more about the asylum procedure in the Netherlands here: https://www.vluchtelingenwerk.nl/forrefugees/asielprocedure?language=en.


This website: https://www.refugeelegalaidinformation.org/node/270#probono_table,  provides an overview of refugee organisations that may be able to help you in your country of residence.

Information for children

Every summer in July and August we organize holiday weeks for refugee children. There are holidays for children, teenagers and for single-parent families. Curious? Go to www.kindervakantieweken.nl

More information:

About the Dutch Council for Refugees

The Dutch Council for Refugees is an independent organisation that acts in the best interests of refugees and asylum seekers in the Netherlands. Our employees and many volunteers commit themselves to the protection of asylum seekers and refugees by providing personal support and representing their interests at their admission, reception, and social participation. We base our work on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Despite our employees' best efforts to assist you, mistakes may be made. If you feel something has gone wrong or are uncomfortable with something, discuss the matter with an employee or team leader at your VluchtelingenWerk facility. You can also file a complaint. This leaflet (Dutch/English) explains how to file a complaint and what will happen afterwards. You can also download the complaint form (Dutch/English) from our website.

The leaflet and the complaint form will be translated into all the languages available on this website in 2022.

Feedback on this website?

The Dutch Council for Refugees has compiled this website with utmost care. If you discover an error, please tell us about it in Dutch or English at forrefugees@vluchtelingenwerk.nl.