Fewer people take integration exam; new measures increase test failures

Multicultural Crowd (Picture: Wikimedia Commons/mattbuck)Multicultural Crowd (Picture: Wikimedia Commons/mattbuck)

Since the responsibility of naturalization and integration shifted from the municipality to newcomers in the Netherlands themselves in 2013, both the number of people taking the integration exam and the pass rate has declined.

This is according to figures Niewsuur got from the Education Executive Agency. Newcomers to the Netherlands have to meet their integration obligation within three years. To do so they need to pass a number of exams, such as tests on their knowledge of Dutch society and reading ability. If they do not, they will be fined or their residency permit will be withdrawn.

The figures show t hat of the 10,641 migrants whose period to meet their integration obligation started in 2013, only 17 percent took and passed the integration exam by July this year. The remaining 83 percent only have about a year left to meet the obligation. The figures also show a decline in the number of people taking the exam. The pass rate is also declining - from a 77 percent pass rate in 2011 to only 53 percent this year.

As the period to meet integration obligation for the 2013 group has not expired yet, the Ministry of Social Affairs considers it too early to conclude that the integration and naturalization is in trouble, according to Nieuwsuur.

Before 2013 several hundred million euros were spent on integration every year. That budget has been reduced to zero. Even before the responsibility of naturalization shifted to the migrants themselves, the four largest municipalities, the Association of Dutch Municipalities, Vluchtelingenwerk and the State Council warned that the threshold would be too high for this vulnerable group of newcomers. The municipality of Amsterdam and refugee foundation Vluchtelingenwerk are now once again issuing warnings, stating that taking responsibility for their own naturalization is too much to ask of this vulnerable group.

Vluchtelingenwerk points out that many refugees are unable to find their way on their own. "Refugees now have to figure it out for themselves on the website inburgeren.nl, but until recently all the information was only available in Dutch. A language that they, of course, do not speak yet. Now part of the site is also in English, but many refugees also do not speak that language." director Dorine Manson said to Nieuwsuur, adding that many refugees do not know what is expected of them. "That is not surprising when you look at the bureaucratic maze they have to go through. It is even difficult for our employees to understand."

In contradiction to the government policy, the municipality of Amsterdam has made provision in its own budget to give migrants a helping hand. "It is a very vulnerable group. The arrive in a new country, sometimes after traumatic experiences, do not speak the language and have no network. A website is not enough." D66 alderman Simone Kukenheim said to the news program. The municipality is concerned about being able to deal with the increasing number of migrants. "We expect to receive more people and society will benefit from these people participating and not being dependent on benefits. This is important and for we as municipality need money for it."