In 2019, the Netherlands received 153 000 new immigrants on a long-term or permanent basis (including changes of status and free mobility), 12.5% more than in 2018. This figure comprises 58.7% immigrants benefitting from free mobility, 15.4% labour migrants, 22.4% family members (including accompanying family) and 3.2% humanitarian migrants. Around 20 000 permits were issued to tertiary-level international students and.3 700 to temporary and seasonal labour migrants (excluding intra-EU migration). In addition, 219 000 intra-EU postings were recorded in 2019, an increase of 74% compared to 2018. These posted workers are generally on short-term contracts.

Poland, India and Romania were the top three nationalities of newcomers in 2019. Among the top 15 countries of origin, Romania registered the strongest increase (2 400) and the United States the largest decrease (200) in flows to the Netherlands compared to the previous year.

In 2020, the number of first asylum applicants decreased by -39.1%, to reach around 14 000. The majority of applicants came from Syria (4 100), Algeria (1 000) and Turkey (1 000). The largest increase since 2019 concerned nationals of Syria (400) and the largest decrease nationals of Nigeria (-1 500). Of the 14 000 decisions taken in 2020, 63.3% were positive.

Emigration of Dutch to OECD countries decreased by -12% in 2019, to 35 000. Approximately 22% of this group migrated to Belgium, 18% to Germany and 13% to Spain.

In 2019 and 2020, only a few minor changes occurred in the regulatory framework for labour migration to the Netherlands. In October 2019, a structural scheme was implemented to bring cooks working in the Asian hospitality sector to the Netherlands. The permit is valid for two years, is issued on the condition that no Dutch or European cook is available and the employer must make efforts to train staff in order to fill vacancies.

A new residence scheme for essential staff of start-ups founded in the Netherlands was announced in July 2019. It is expected to come into force in early 2021, initially in the form of a four-year-long pilot.

An assistance scheme for third-country nationals without a right of residence in the Netherlands and with no right to other forms of shelter/support was piloted in five municipalities in 2019. By providing counselling for assisted voluntary return, migration to another country or, if applicable, legalisation of stay, the facilities aim to prevent irregular stay and to limit the consequences of irregular stay for the local environment. The pilots will run for two years. If the pilot is successful, the National Immigration Facilities will be implemented as a permanent provision.

In 2019, a joint Task Force (Ministry of Education, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Justice and Security) was formed for the screening of students in sensitive study programmes.

On 1 May 2020, a Task Force was set up for the protection of labour migrants. This team issued two advisory reports in 2020: on the risk of infection by COVID-19 at work and on their poor living and working conditions. At the end of 2020 the government promised to start working immediately on improvements in the field of medical care and registration of migrant workers. Preparations are also being made for more drastic measures in the field of living and working conditions.

Following proposals for a new civic integration system in July 2018, the House of Representatives passed the Civic Integration Act in 2020 and will enter into force on 1 January 2022. Measures include language training, help in entering employment and funding provision for municipalities.

Measures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic include: temporary suspension of asylum procedures; civic integration courses offered via e-learning; and easing of salary criteria where necessary. International students were allowed to extend their residence permits if study was delayed, the virus deemed an ‘excusable reason’ for insufficient study progress. Specific measures were introduced to register for a study programme with an online language test or to use this test for the application of visa documents.

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