Immigrants to get personalized integration plan in new Dutch policy

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))

Minister Wouter Koolmees of Social Affairs is putting an end to the Netherlands' current integration system in which immigrants and refugees have to buy their own civic integration course. Instead municipalities will set up a personal integration plan for all newcomers, which includes language courses, rent and costs for insurance, NOS reports. 

"Newcomers no longer need to find a language course themselves; that simply does not work if you do not speak the language. Municipalities will offer them a suitable course at a language agency", Koolmees said with the presentation of his personal Plan Integration and Participation. According to the Minister, the current system encourages fraud and misunderstandings.

Part of the new policy is to encourage refugees - asylum seekers given a residency permit in the Netherlands - to start integrating immediately. If they do too little, they will be fined "more and faster" than is currently the case. Koolmees wants to hold refugees responsible for their integration in the Netherlands. 

The Minister is also increasing the language level newcomers need to reach from A2 to B1. This will increase their chances of finding a job. Koolmees recognizes that this level may be too high for some immigrants or refugees. Municipal officials will establish a "learning level and learning route" for each newcomer in their personal integration plan.

This new system is expected to be implemented in 2020.

The current integration law was implemented in the Netherlands in 2013. Under that law, immigrants are responsible for their own integration. In practice this turned out to be too difficult for a large proportion of newcomers to the Netherlands.