Inburgeringsexamen: dozens of Dutch language schools committing fraud
Immigrants in the Netherlands have to take the Inburgeringsexamen a.k.a. the Civic Integration Exam within three years of their arrival, after which they can apply for a residence permit. In order to learn Dutch and other requirements for the various sections of the exam, candidates can take a loan of up to 10.000 euros.
Fraudulent Dutch language schools
The amount of money that Inburgeringsexamen candidates can borrow acts as an incentive for fraudulent language schools to take advantage of them, either by stealing their money or making a shady deal. Since the summer of this year, the number of reports of indications of fraud at language schools has drastically increased.
According to the Inspectorate SWZ, from the Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment, of the 277 certified language schools in the Netherlands, there is a strong indication of fraud at 22 of them, a fairly strong indication at 12 and just an indication at another 53. The Public Prosecutor’s Office and the Inspectorate SWZ decide on which and how many cases are investigated. In 2018, 45 schools have already lost their certification and another 15 will likely lose theirs too.
This year, two criminal investigations have already been started and 11 language school locations in Amsterdam and Utrecht have been searched. In November, police in Amsterdam arrested a suspect at one of these locations; he is accused of giving students the answers to exam questions. Exams have already been postponed until next year because of leaked answers on social media.
New measures to fight fraud
“The current loans system is unfortunately vulnerable to fraud [… and] the number of reports is of such a nature that there is clearly a reason for concern”, Minister of Social Affairs, Wouter Koolmees stresses. A new integration regime will be implemented in 2020, however, before it is, new measures will be taken to fight fraud in the current situation.
As of April next year, language schools will no longer be able to send invoices to DUO ahead of time and paper invoices will only be paid if digital evidence can also be provided. Blik op Werk, which provides certification for language schools, will be carrying out expedited financial audits of all their certified schools and a greater number of unannounced inspections. Municipalities will also have a greater role, as they will be coordinating the procurement of language courses.