Proposed changes to Dutch naturalisation laws in 2016
Everaert Advocaten is a respected leader in Dutch migration law. Based in Amsterdam, its multilingual team advises expats on residency and migration-related legal issues.
The Dutch Parliament is in the process of passing a legislative bill that seeks changes to the Dutch Citizenship Act. The proposed amendments include extending the terms for naturalisation from five to seven years.
Parliamentary debate on the bill, originally scheduled for December 2015, has been postponed until the sixth week of 2016.
Proposed changes to the Citizenship Act
The Secretary of Safety and Justice recently answered questions from the Lower House about the legislative bill. We list the main proposed changes below:
› Extension of naturalisation period
The term for naturalisation will be extended from five to seven years. There will be no transitional law.
This means that if you have been in the Netherlands for five years at the time of introduction of the new act, and have not yet applied for naturalisation, you will have to wait another two years until the seven-year term has been reached.
› Naturalisation of spouses
Spouses of Dutch nationals cannot apply for naturalisation until they have been married for three years and are legal residents of the Netherlands. At present, married partners may sometimes include years lived abroad.
› Applications from abroad no longer allowed
It will no longer be possible to file applications for naturalisation from abroad.
Currently, spouses of Dutch nationals abroad may apply from any country other than the country of their nationality. Of course all criteria for naturalisation must be satisfied.
› No criminal record
All applicants aged 12 and over (currently 16 and over) must be able to show that they have no criminal record.
› Extending dual nationality
In a separate memorandum of amendment the State Secretary proposes extending the term for losing Dutch citizenship, in the event of dual nationality and long-term residency outside the European Union, Aruba, Curacao or St Maarten, from 10 to 15 years.
Timing of the amendments
Consideration by the parliament of the legislative bill will take place in the week of February 8, 2016. Once passed, the amendments are expected to take effect on June 1, 2016.
Understand your situation
If you plan to apply for Dutch citizenship and you are in the "waiting period" for naturalisation then it is wise to investigate how the amendments might affect your situation. You may need to take early action to avoid extra waiting time in the future.
December 2016 update
As of December 2016, the new law proposal is still awaiting debate in the Dutch Senate. It will therefore not be implemented on January 1, 2017. Unconfirmed reports suggest it may be introduced in April 2017 instead.
It is important to note that an interim law will apply to migrants who have been living in the Netherlands legally for three uninterrupted years at the date of introduction of the new law. These people will still fall under the old requirement term of five years to be able to naturalise.