IND is ‘reaching its limits’, calls for reform to Dutch migration policy

IND is ‘reaching its limits’, calls for reform to Dutch migration policy

In a report published on Tuesday, the Immigration and Naturalisation Service (IND) said it was unable to keep up with the “high number of asylum applications” and called for reform to the Netherlands’ migration policy. 

Number of naturalisation and residence applications rising

In the State of Implementation (Stand van de Uitvoering), the IND outlines how it faces a rising number of naturalisation and residence applications - but that it doesn’t have the capacity to manage and respond to all the applications within the legally mandated 15 months.

“It is taking longer and longer before applicants get clarity about a future in the Netherlands,” says IND Director-General Rhodia Maas. “That long uncertainty is horrible. I think it is extremely important that applicants notice that the IND has not forgotten about them.”

In addition to the “increase and the unpredictability of the number of applications for residence and naturalisation,” the IND highlights various bottlenecks which also contribute to higher workloads for employees and longer wait times for applicants. The authority points out that the number of penalty cases (where applicants receive compensation for a delay in their application) is increasing - costing the government 3,4 million euros last year - as is the frequency with which IND workers are required to contact applicants. 

IND calls on Dutch government to simplify legislation

In all, the IND argues that the government’s migration policy “is becoming increasingly complex” and is, therefore, harder to implement. The authority is therefore calling for structural changes. “Implementing improvements to the current process will help, but [will not be] enough. We have to accept that the IND cannot keep pace with the fluctuating number of applications,” Maas explains.

“The conclusion of the State of Implementation is that the IND is reaching its limits,” the organisation writes on its website. “Not only because of the high number of applications. But also because laws and regulations are becoming more complicated and with it their implementation as well. As far as the IND is concerned, a new look at how the migration policy remains manageable and feasible is therefore urgently needed.”

Refugees facing the longest delays to applications

Earlier this month, de Volkskrant reported that 40.000 refugees were awaiting a decision on their asylum application, while the IND only has the capacity to process around 22.000 applications a year. 

While bottlenecks are leading to delays for many applications - including those for students, families, and highly-skilled migrant workers - refugees are facing the longest wait times. The average decision period for an application has already doubled from 20 weeks to 40, and it’s expected that applicants will have to wait even longer for the rest of 2023 and 2024. 

Thumb: robert coolen via

Victoria Séveno


Victoria Séveno

Victoria grew up in Amsterdam, before moving to the UK to study English and Related Literature at the University of York and completing her NCTJ course at the Press Association...

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