Only a third of immigrants pass integration exam: report

Integration exam
Image from a video portraying students during the integration exam (Dienst Uitvoering Onderwijs). (Image from a video portraying students during the integration exam (Dienst Uitvoering Onderwijs))

Since a law was passed in 2013 making integration the responsibility of immigrants themselves, only a third of immigrants passed the naturalization exam in time, according to a report by the Netherlands General Court of Audit. The exam is also taken at a lower level than before the law, reports.

The new naturalization law states that it is the immigrant's responsibility to pass the integration exam within three years of arriving in the country. Before that municipalities were responsible to integrate newcomers. The law also states that immigrants who can not afford the integration course, can take out a loan of up to 10 thousand euros for the course and language lessons. If they pass the exam in time, the loan becomes a gift. If not they have to pay it back.

Of the 5,415 immigrants and refugees who make the Netherlands their home in the first half of 2013, only 33 percent passed their integration exam in the three years time limit. 50 percent did not manage to do so. The rest received an exemption or waiver. Only 2 percent of newcomers passed the integration exam at a higher level than the mandatory level since 2013. Between 2007 and 2012 it was 20 percent.

According to the report, the biggest problem is that immigrants who do not speak the language yet are barely able to find their own way in the maze of courses. The Blik op Werk website, which keeps an eye on the quality of the integration courses on offer, is largely in Dutch. 

In October Minister Lodewijk Asscher of Social Affairs and Employment wrote to parliament that the pass rate for the integration exam increased from 32 percent in April 2016 to 49 percent in October 2016. He still expressed his worries about the system.

According to the report, Asscher proposed that municipalities take on a more advisory role in integration, providing newcomers with more information about the courses, giving them extra incentive to take the exam and translating more documents relevant to them, including on the Blik op Werk website. "The findings of the Minister and the adjustments he announced are in line with the findings of our investigation", the report says.