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The Law on the integration of immigrants (Dutch: Wet inburgering) makes it mandatory to learn Dutch language for most immigrants to the Netherlands that are neither citizens of the EU, nor of Switzerland, nor of European Economic Area-countries. These immigrants must pass an exam within a few years after staying in the Netherlands. According to a different law, certain classes of prospective immigrants must pass a test of very basic knowledge of Dutch language and of Dutch society, even before first entry to the Netherlands. Contents 1 Introduction 2 Prior to traveling to the Netherlands 3 Failure to meet the obligations 4 Exceptions 5 Implementation and cost 6 Dispute 7 Future plans 8 References 9 External links Introduction The Dutch Law on the integration of immigrants, drafted by Rita Verdonk, was passed by the House of Representatives (Tweede Kamer) on July 7, 2006 and the Senate (Eerste Kamer) on November 28, 2006. It came into force on January 1, 2007. This immigration law introduced an obligation to integrate into Dutch Society for people entering the Netherlands. After a period of three-and-a-half years (five years for some), inhabitants are obliged to have passed an exam measuring their level of integration. In practice, the exam consists of two parts, a “Dutch language exam” and an exam “knowledge of Dutch society”. The obligation to learn Dutch and integrate does not only apply to new immigrants, but also to some immigrants who have already lived for years in the Netherlands.[1] Schemes and a law to promote integration into Dutch Society did exist prior to 2007, but without the aforementioned obligations. The law will however have consequences for some of the people who entered the Netherlands before 2007 (i.e. people matching certain criteria). This will not go as far as with people who entered the Netherlands in 2007 or later. In other countries, similar obligations do exist for people who want to adopt the nationality of a given country, but not for people with other nationalities who are legally staying in that country. Prior to traveling to the Netherlands Main article: Integration law for immigrants to the Netherlands abroad A similar but different obligation exists for some people in foreign countries who want to come to the Netherlands, especially people wanting to marry somebody who already lives in the Netherlands. These rules are written in another Law, the “Wet inburgering in het buitenland” (Integration law for immigrants to the Netherlands abroad). According to the rules laid out in this law; another, far easier exam, has to be taken by somebody before coming to the Netherlands, when applying for a three months visa (Dutch: MVV). This exam is usually taken in Dutch embassies. Failure to meet the obligations Since the obligation was introduced for people entering after January 1, 2007, it is not until July 1, 2010 that the law will have consequences for people who not have fulfilled their obligations. According to the website of the Dutch Ministry for Integration, two types of consequences are possible: either fines may be imposed or people will be excluded from the right to request a permanent residence permit. See: (Dutch) The law further states that the city council (the city where somebody lives) can make a decision whether or not somebody who has been in the country for three-and-a-half years can be held accountable for not passing the exam (or not taking it). The municipality can decide upon the question whether somebody has tried hard enough and / or is otherwise accountable for not passing or not taking the exam. It is unknown how this will work out in the period of time after July 1, 2010. Exceptions The law does not apply to: people with Dutch nationality (see below however for earlier drafts of the law); people from EU-countries, EEA-countries or Switzerland; people under 18 years; people over 65 years; people who have spent 8 years or more in the Netherlands during childhood (formally: during the period of compulsory education) people who have school diplomas, certificates etc. of an education in the Dutch language, for example people educated in Suriname; people who are sent by their companies to work in the Netherlands (expats);[citation needed] students A Dutch judge ordered in 2010 that the law does not apply to Turkish citizens, because of an association treaty between the European Union and Turkey.[2][3] Implementation and cost This section requires expansion. The Dutch municipalities are responsible for the implementation of the law.[4] As of June 2011, the courses worth of several thousands of Euros are subsidized by the government under certain conditions.[5] Dispute It is claimed that the Netherlands are the only country imposing rules of integration and forcing inhabitants to learn a language while still abroad. Part of the dispute is therefore whether this law is a sign of more negative attitudes towards immigrants (or even xenophobia) in the Netherlands. A much opposed (but later abandoned) part of this Law was aimed at introducing the same obligations to people with Dutch nationality who wanted to enter the territory of the Netherlands. This part was aimed at people from the Dutch Caribbean (Aruba and the Netherlands Antilles). The point in question may be aimed mostly at young people from these countries who have been over-represented in crime figures. Not all of them speak Dutch (at least, either not well or not as a first language). However, because people from the Dutch Caribbean could not be singled out in any other way, all people with Dutch nationality were first included in the target group for this law, after which people who spent more than 8 years of their childhood in the Netherlands were afterward excluded. This was meant in effect to include the Dutch Caribbean-inhabitants for the proposed integration obligation. As mentioned, this plan was abandoned after legal advice by the Council of State / Raad van State, who declared these obligations unconstitutional. After amending the law, it now applies to about 250.000 people in the Netherlands. Especially controversial was that some of the people under this law would have to pay for the necessary courses (to learn the Dutch language) and were entitled to be refunded (partly or completely) only afterward and only if they passed the exam. This point was later (in practice, not in theory) abolished. (See Future plans) Despite wide disputes, in the House of Representatives (Tweede Kamer), only one representative (Fatma Koşer Kaya -D66-) voted against the Law. In the Senate, four smaller political parties opposed the Law, i.e. 13 out of 75 Senators. See: Future plans The Rutte cabinet plans to change several aspects of the law. These plans still have to be approved by parliament as of June 2011. The cabinet wants to have the immigrants pay for the courses.[6] revoke residence permit (permanent and temporary) when the immigrant does not pass the test in three years. Asylum seekers are exempt from this sanction, but will be fined.[7] References ^ ^ ^ ^ Inburgeringswet schiet ernstig tekort OPINION by Jos Groenenboom retrieved 2010-April-24 Dutch: "Met invoering van de Wet Inburgering Nieuwkomers is de verantwoordelijkheid voor de uitvoering van dat integratiebeleid bij gemeenten gelegd." English translation: "When introducing the Law Civic Integration Newcomers the responsibility for execution of this integration policy was given to municipalities." ^ ^ English translation: "The coalition agreement states that people who will follow the courses will have to pay for it themselves. People who are unable to do so, will get the possibility to get a loan. It is still unclear when the new rules will be applicable. The Raad van State still has to give advice and then the House of Representatives and Senate will discuss it." Dutch:"In het regeerakkoord staat vastgelegd dat inburgeraars hun cursus zelf betalen. Mensen dat niet kunnen, krijgen de mogelijkheid het geld te lenen. Het is nog onduidelijk wanneer de nieuwe regels in werking treden. De Raad van State moet nog advies geven, en daarna gaan de Tweede en de Eerste Kamer erover praten." ^ English translation: "Immigrants will lose their residence permits if they pass their ntegration exam within three years. This is stated in a bill that the government has agreed with this afternoon. Asylum seekers do not leave the country if they do not integrate, but will be fined. 'Ordinary' immigrants can keep their permits only if they can prove that special circumstances are applicable." Dutch:"Immigranten raken hun verblijfsvergunning kwijt als zij niet binnen drie jaar hun inburgeringsdiploma hebben behaald. Dat staat in een wetsvoorstel waarmee het kabinet vanmiddag heeft ingestemd. Asielzoekers hoeven niet het land uit als zij niet inburgeren, zij krijgen wel een boete. ‘Gewone’ immigranten mogen hun verblijfsvergunning alleen houden als er aantoonbaar bijzondere omstandigheden zijn. " External links Civic integration examination abroad introduced website of the Immigratie en Naturalisatiedienst newspaper article Dutch language in Trouw The Netherlands: Discrimination in the Name of Integration article dated May 13, 2008 by Human Rights Watch Pass this test, Dutch tell immigrants From The Sunday Times June 18, 2006, by Nicola Smith,1518,397021,00.html der Spiegel English version