Thousands of refugees waiting for family reunification due to immigration service delays
Thousands of refugees are waiting too long for their family reunification applications to be processed. A third of applications have been pending for longer than the statutory process period of 6 months, the immigration and naturalization service IND confirmed to NOS. This leads to unrest and despair in the asylum centers, refugees' organization Vluchtelingenwerk said.
Refugees - asylum seekers who have been granted a residency permit for the Netherlands - can apply for their partner and children to also be brought to the Netherlands. The IND must process an application within six months.
There are several reasons why a third of applicants have been waiting longer, the IND said. The service received more applications than expected in recent months and already faced a backlog due to the coronavirus. "The importance of reuniting family members who have been separated in flight is great," the IND said to the broadcaster. "That is why we are making every effort to process family reunification requests as quickly as possible."
Vluchtelingenwerk Nederland, an organization that works for refugees' interests in the Netherlands, called on State Secretary Eric van der Burg of Justice and Security to intervene. "Refugees feel forgotten. They have often not seen their children for more than a year. Every day they have to wait longer is one too many," a spokesperson said to NOS.
"There is a structural shortage of staff, and the procedure for family reunification is far too complicated," Vluchtelingenwerk said. It called for the IND to hire more people and scrap the "strict and unrealistic requirements" in the family reunification procedure. "In recent years, thousands of rejected requests have been granted after an objection or intervention by the judge. That is an alarming number. It shows that there is something wrong with the family reunification procedure."