Rights in Exile Programme

Refugee Legal Aid Information for Lawyers Representing Refugees Globally

Resettlement to the Netherlands

Resettlement to the Netherlands

For more detailed information on resettlement to the Netherlands, a full country profile can be viewed here at Know Reset.

For the years 2008 through 2011, the Netherlands’ quota for resettlement is 2000 (500 per year). The quota is filled through dossier selection among the requests submitted by UNHCR and in-country selection via missions to countries of asylum.

On average, four missions visit refugee camps annually to select refugees in need of resettlement. The Dutch government also accepts a number of refugees submitted by UNHCR for resettlement to the Netherlands. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is invited to submit individual resettlement cases of, for instance, women at risk, emergency cases, or persons who live in countries of asylum which are not visited by missions.

Eligibility Criteria

The Netherlands has no specific eligibility criteria for resettlement. The resettlement unit at the Immigration and Naturalization Unit (IND) applies the same criteria to regular asylum requests and to resettlement requests.

According to Article 29 of the 2000 Aliens Act, aliens – including asylum seekers and resettled refugees – can be granted a residence permit:

  • on the basis of the 1951 Geneva Convention relating to the Status of Refugees (hereafter ‘1951 Convention’) or the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms;
  • for compelling humanitarian reasons relating to their individual circumstances, for instance in the light of traumatic experiences;
  • if return to their country of origin would place them at grave risk because of the general situation there, for instance because it is at war.
Attention is also paid to refugees in need of special medical care. In medical cases, the Netherlands uses the following criteria:
  • the cases must fit in the medical category as laid out by UNHCR;
  • the medical treatment is not available in country of asylum and non-treatment may eventually lead to serious physical or mental damage. The fact that medical treatment is not accessible in countries of asylum is not an argument for granting a permit, unless access is prohibited on one of the 1951 Convention grounds (e.g. because of religion, race or nationality);
  • the condition of the person should be such that their departure to the Netherlands for treatment and supervision can result in a substantial improvement.

Admissibility for Resettlement

Refugees may not be considered for resettlement in the Netherlands:

  • if they meet the exclusion grounds laid down in article 1, notably 1F, of the Geneva Convention. If one member of a nuclear family meets the exclusion criteria of 1F, present or not, the other members of this nuclear family are also excluded, unless it is evident that the person involved is not present and will not seek future family reunion;
  • if they have a criminal background and/or pose a threat to public order in the Netherlands;
  • if they can return according to an individual assessment based on the Dutch asylum criteria and country of origin information, or when there are prospects for local integration.
Refugees might also be denied resettlement in the Netherlands if there are signs or behaviour that indicate that the refugee will not integrate into the Dutch society. The refugee’s willingness and ability to integrate into the Dutch society are taken into consideration when selecting refugees for resettlement.

Family Reunification for Resettled Refugees

Under Section 27 (e) of the Aliens Act, for the purposes of family reunification, spouses and minor children (under 18) are considered family members.

Family members can apply for a residence permit within three months of arrival to the Netherlands or the date the residence permit is granted to the main applicant. After three months, family reunification can still be considered but not within the resettlement quota. In this case, the regular Dutch criteria for family reunification apply.

Family reunification with non-marital partners, parents or adult children is also possible, but only if they are dependants of the person who was granted asylum.

In order to be considered for family reunification, family members need to be known to UNHCR at the moment of selection of the main applicant. They have to be included in the original documentation submitted to UNHCR.

 

Travel expenses, the costs of visas and, where necessary, laissez-passers for the refugees accepted for resettlement in the Netherlands are covered by the government. The International Organization for Migration (IOM) provides logistical assistance such as making travel arrangements and providing assistance during departure, transit and arrival and request of transit visa waver if required.

 

Sources: this information has been taken from official documents as well as the Netherlands country chapter in the UNHCR Resettlement Handbook.

Publications

Resettlement of refugees in the Netherlands, Immigration and Naturalisation Service, Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations, November 2010

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