IND procedure still too long for refugee children

IND procedure still too long for refugee children

This would be the last time: Four years ago, the cabinet declared an amnesty for children, allowing hundreds of children who had to leave the Netherlands virtually to stay. To prevent a relapse, the children and their parents had to gain clarity much faster. However, Eric van der Burg, Secretary of State for Asylum, acknowledges that “the IND’s processing times are taking longer.”

Despite the new regulation, there are still hundreds of refugee children waiting for a decision from the IND for over five years. As the Secretary of State recently reported to the House of Representatives, as of early October 2022, the COA was home to 200 unauthorized persons 17 years of age or younger who had been there for five years or more.

The government has no knowledge of all foreigners residing in the Netherlands without a residence permit. In reality, this number is even higher. “After the children have exhausted all legal avenues, the IND still does not record whether they are in the Netherlands or have left the country,” an IND spokesperson said.

Liwaa, 15, has been waiting for years for a decision on whether she can stay in the Netherlands. She came to the Netherlands from Syria with her family eight years ago. The family currently lives in an AZC in Katwijk. A place where Liwaa says she should do without privacy and future prospects.

Martin Vegter, child rights and immigration legal counsel for Defense for Children, says Damocles’ sword hangs over his head every day.

“I want to have a future, then I will be what I want to be,” says Liwaa.

With the abolition of the child amnesty, there is no longer any regulation that children can apply for when they take root in the Netherlands after five years or more. Defense for Children wants children with their roots in the Netherlands to obtain a residence permit as soon as possible.

Immigration expert Martijn Stronks believes that very few refugee children are allowed to stay. “There are more and more shocking cases. Then soon we will need a child amnesty again.”

Christian Union MP Don Ceder is also worried. “We’ve been very busy with asylum over the past year. But I miss the urgency of vulnerable children,” she says. “There are already hundreds of children who have no solution.”

However, according to the IND, the initial residency procedure usually does not have any stressful aspects. According to the IND, “Long-term stays often occur when the requirement to leave the country is not complied with and new procedures are introduced.”

sad situations

If there is no right of residence under the rules, the state still has the option to intervene in an emergency. This so-called discretion was transferred from the Secretary of State for Asylum Affairs to the head of the Aliens and Naturalization Service (IND).

This authority has been used in a total of ten cases since May 2019. Several people may be involved in this. According to the IND, authorization was hardly necessary as the regulation could no longer be compared to amnesty for children. According to the IND, disturbing situations are rare in the current constellation.

After the child amnesty was lifted, the IND received millions of euros to speed up procedures in the future so that no new group of root children who could not stay would emerge. Bundestag member Ceder says it doesn’t work.

“There have been many children in the Netherlands in recent years who have been in the Netherlands for five years or more and still do not have a residence permit, as the residency procedures are no longer shortened, but rather lengthened,” says Vegter. “Now is the time for a sustainable solution.”

The Secretary of State says processing times are longer for the IND. “This is not why families with underage children stay in accommodation for so long. Even after the asylum procedure is completed, the acceptance of this group does not stop.”

Source: NOS