In 2018, the Netherlands received 136 100 new immigrants on a long-term or permanent basis (including changes of status and free mobility), 6.2% more than in 2017. This figure comprises 59% immigrants benefitting from free mobility, 15.4% labour migrants, 22.9% family members (including accompanying family) and 2.7% humanitarian migrants. Around 18 000 permits were issued to tertiary-level international students and 3 700 to temporary and seasonal labour migrants (excluding intra-EU migration). In addition, 126 000 intra-EU postings were recorded in 2018, an increase of 13.3% compared to 2017. These posted workers are generally on short-term contracts.

Poland, Germany and India were the top three nationalities of newcomers in 2018. Among the top 15 countries of origin, India registered the strongest increase (1 000) and Syria the largest decrease (-10 000) in flows to the Netherlands compared to the previous year.

In 2019, the number of first asylum applicants increased by 10.1%, to reach around 23 000. The majority of applicants came from Syria (3 700), Nigeria (2 100) and Iran (1 500). The largest increase since 2018 concerned nationals of Nigeria (+1 500) and the largest decrease nationals of Eritrea (-900). Of the 13 000 decisions taken in 2019, 37.3% were positive.

In order to attract knowledge workers, those with a permit under the Highly Skilled Migrant Scheme qualify for a special expenses reimbursement scheme since January 2019. This allows an employer to provide an employee with 30% of his/her wage, including reimbursement, as an (untaxed) reimbursement of the extra costs of the temporary stay outside the country of origin.

To enhance client service, the Immigration and Naturalisation Service (IND) started a pilot in January 2019 to have permanent residence documents delivered by courier. The duration of the pilot is 3 months.

In January 2019, a new regularisation policy was introduced for children who have resided in the Netherlands for more than five years without receiving a residence permit. The government decided to abolish the previous Regulation for Long-term Resident Children as of 29 January 2019, to replace this with the so-called Closing Regulation for Long-term Resident Children (which applied more lenient criteria than the previous regulation), to reassess the eligibility of the remaining cases, and to abolish the State Secretary’s discretionary authority (i.e. the authority to make an exception for ‘distressing cases’).

The procedure for filing repeat asylum applications changed in July 2019. Previously, if an earlier asylum application was rejected an asylum seeker could fill a repeat application by post. Under the new rule, the asylum seeker must go to a dedicated application centre to fill the application in person.

On 1 July 2019, a new residence permit for essential personnel of start-ups was introduced, allowing start-ups to hire third country nationals that are essential to their success with a lowered salary criterion (in comparison to regular knowledge migrants), combined with a share in the company.

A new civic integration system will be implemented in the Netherlands. Originally foreseen for 1 January 2020, the starting date was pushed back to July 2021. Under the new system, municipalities will have the central role in the implementation of integration policy. Municipalities are expected to offer individualised contracts for most newcomers from non-EU countries (holders of an asylum permit, of a residence permit for family reunification and for religious labour migrants). The civic integration courses which are at the core of these include Dutch language courses, the level of which will increase from A2 to B1, and knowledge about the Dutch labour market and society.

Currently, immigrants from Turkey are exempt from the civic integration requirements that otherwise apply to most third-country nationals wishing to come to the Netherlands. In the new system, Turkish citizens would then be required to take both the civic integration abroad exam prior to arrival and to participate in an integration programme once in the Netherlands.

On 12 February 2020 the Council of State ruled that the Dutch central government must investigate the concrete consequences of loss of Dutch citizenship. If the central government decides that the consequences of the loss of citizenship are disproportionate, those concerned will retroactively become Dutch nationals again.

Since July 2020, highly skilled migrants (holders of a Highly Skilled Migrant long-term stay (MVV) visa or permit, including EU Blue Card holders, Intra Corporate Transferees under Directive 2014/66/EU and researchers under Directive 2016/801) and students are allowed to enter the Netherlands, regardless of their country of residence while most other categories of foreign workers remain banned from entry into the Netherlands owing to COVID-19.

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