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Netherlands: Majority of newcomers do not fulfil their civic integration requirements (Unofficial translation)

The new Civic Integration Act which came into force on 1 January 2013 states that newcomers are responsible for the preparation they might need in order to pass the compulsory integration exam. Since then, the number of newcomers who have taken and passed the integration exam successfully has fallen sharply. 

Newcomers have two to three years to fulfil their civic integration requirements (knowledge of the Dutch language and society) and for 53,000 of them, the preparation period is coming to an end. From these 53,000, 47,000 have not met the integration requirements yet. Figures show that asylum seekers have more difficulties to meet their integration requirements than family-reunification migrants, for example. Moreover, less than half of those who arrived during the first quarter of 2013 have passed the exam. The reasons behind this big number of individuals not taking or passing the exam will be investigated. The results of this study are expected after the summer.

'This is alarming' writes Minister Asscher (Social Affairs and Employment) in a letter to the parliament, which reveals the communicated numbers. 'The disappointing figures require additional measures to be taken. It is essential that newcomers quickly find a place in our society, learn the language and know the values', he adds. 'The civic integration trajectory is therefore a crucial starting point. Let's explore why this is not going well.'

To prevent migrants from getting a fee, or losing their residence-permit, the government sends a standard warning to migrants who haven't taken any action after the first six months. Another letter is sent when the deadline for fulfilling their integration requirements is about to expire. The letter also includes information about where they seek support and the consequences of failing to meet the integration requirements.

DUO, the organisation that oversees the civic integration trajectory of TCNs, offers newcomers a loan to pay for their integration classes if they need it. The DUO-website also offers tips, help and mock exams.

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