Dutch government to overhaul inburgering process
Currently, newcomers to the Netherlands have to find Dutch language courses and other courses to help them pass the inburgeringsexamen themselves. In order to pay for these courses, immigrants may request a loan of up to 10.000 euros from the government.
Turning the current policy on its head
The Minister of Social Affairs and Employment, Wouter Koolmees, had previously acknowledged that the current policy just isn’t working, as newcomers find it difficult to navigate the inburgering course market when they can barely speak the language. Newcomers looking for courses are also easy targets for dodgy agencies.
Koolmees wants to turn the current inburgering process on its head from 2020 and give control back to municipalities in the Netherlands. For all those who need to integrate into the Netherlands, for resident permit reasons or otherwise, the municipality will create a personalised plan and will also be responsible for arranging and financing language lessons.
As the municipality will be responsible for Dutch language lessons, the loan that newcomers could previously request will be disestablished. The goal of the new integration plan is to have newcomers working in the Netherlands without delay and learning the language as they go.
Fines for not learning Dutch
To allow newcomers to the Netherlands to start the integration process as soon as possible, municipalities will finance their fixed costs, such as rent and insurance costs, from their social welfare benefits, as opposed to them receiving these benefits directly. How long they receive this assistance will be disclosed in their personal plan and differs per individual.
Newcomers are still responsible themselves for learning the language within three years and passing the Civic Integration Exam. Those who are illiterate will not be able to evade their obligation to integrate, as their integration programme will have taken this into account.
Those who don’t put in enough effort can expect a fine much sooner than they would have received previously, a reduction of their social welfare benefits, and may also lose their right to a longer residence permit.
Higher Dutch language requirements
Currently, those taking the Civic Integration Exam have to achieve an A2 level of Dutch. As a B1 level increases the chances of finding a job in the Netherlands, the new integration process will require newcomers to complete their integration with a B1 level of Dutch.
This level of Dutch may not be achievable for some, thus a different level and learning route to achieve said level will be defined in the personal integration plan of such newcomers.