Asylum at the IND: every story at the centre

​A safe place to live is not self-evident for everyone. Around 70 million people are displaced globally. There is always room for real refugees in the Netherlands. That is why the IND assesses for every asylum seeker whether he or she is eligible for protection.

Who are eligible for asylum?
Asylum seekers have different reasons to leave their country. Sometimes they expect a better economical perspective in the Netherlands. Understandable as this may be, they are not eligible for the protection provided by international treaties. After all, this protection is intended for people who have reason to fear persecution on the basis of nationality, ethnicity, religion, political conviction, or because they belong to a certain group. The Netherlands also offers protection to asylum seekers if they have reason to fear inhumane treatment in their own country, or if they come from a war situation.

How does the IND assess who is eligible for asylum?
All asylum seekers reporting in the Netherlands will have several interviews with the IND. In the application interview, questions are asked to establish the asylum seeker's identity. In the further interview, the asylum seeker will be given the opportunity to tell why he or she left his or her country. This interview provides room to tell all that is at play: the full narrative of the flight, but also compelling or humanitarian aspects.
A report is drawn up of each interview. The asylum seeker checks whether this report is correct. If necessary, adjustments can still be made.
On the basis if these interviews, the IND decides on the asylum application. To do so, the IND assesses the application against the Refugee Convention and against national and international laws and regulations. If the asylum seeker is eligible for a residence permit on the basis of the policy, the application is granted and the asylum seeker will be given a residence permit. If the asylum seeker is not eligible, the application is rejected. 
Whatever the outcome of the application, a tailored approach is used in all cases. This means that IND staff assess every case individually, that the personal narrative is at the centre and that every applicant is given the attention they deserve.

Why does it sometimes take long before a decision is taken?
The time needed to process an asylum application depends on the situation. To align the Dutch asylum process as much as possible, the IND uses various tiers. The first tier concerns asylum seekers falling under the 'Dublin regulation'. In their case, another country is responsible for processing the asylum application. Hence, they are not eligible for a residence permit in the Netherlands. In the second tier, applications are processed of asylum seekers coming from a safe country. In principle, they do not stand a chance of getting a residence permit and their applications are processed as fast as possible, so that it is possible to work on return. The final tier is made up of all other asylum applications. This tier is divided into two procedures: the General Asylum Procedure (AA) and the Extended Asylum Procedure (VA). In the General Asylum Procedure, applications are processed that can be decided on quickly. This process only takes up eight days. Asylum seekers will be given a decision on their application within those eight days. In the Extended Asylum Procedure, applications are processed that require more time, for example because documents have to be examined further, or because additional information is needed from the country of origin. Hence, the length of a procedure in the Extended Asylum Procedure varies per application.

What does the IND do to shorten the asylum procedure?
Even though the IND makes considerable efforts to keep processing times as short as possible, the legal decision term is often not met. This is because of various reasons. For instance, the asylum influx has slightly risen, increasing the number of applications. At the same time, other tiers were prioritised temporarily, causing backlogs. To reduce these terms, the IND has recruited additional staff. 350 new members of asylum staff have already started, and in the short term, 300 additional new members will be added to this. However, this investment doesn't pay off immediately: our work is complicated and staff have a considerable responsibility. Only after receiving adequate training can they work independently. For this reason, we expect to be able to decide within the term in all cases in the course of 2021. 

How does the IND know what's going on in a country?
Members of IND staff have extensive knowledge of countries. In addition, they have access to a database with data on countries and areas, and they are assisted by a team of experts. There are, for instance, experts available in the field of country-specific information, but the IND also has an internationally leading team of document experts.

How does the IND deal with vulnerable asylum seekers?
It can be very painful to tell what you went through in your country of origin or on the road to the Netherlands. IND staff know this. They have been trained well in interviewing foreign nationals, and will do everything within their power to remove barriers and create a safe setting. For instance, there is the option to request a male or female member of staff. It is also possible to have extra breaks. Special members of staff are available for interviewing unaccompanied minors. This is done in a child-friendly interviewing room.

How does the IND deal with refugees elsewhere in Europe?
Offering reception to refugees is a task for every European member state. The Netherlands takes this task seriously. Each year, the Netherlands takes in 500 refugees who have been selected by the UNHCR. Moreover, we offer a new home in our country to around 1000 Syrian refugees in Turkish refugee camps.

Does the IND heed security when deciding who is allowed to enter our country?
Whoever isn't safe in their own country must be able to count on asylum protection. We want to be certain that only those people who really need it are granted protection. To safeguard this value, we exclude (war) criminals from this protection. A special IND team is tasked with investigating applications for residence by ware criminals and those suspected of war crimes. They should not be given a safe harbour in the Netherlands. We also keep our eyes open for signals that can put our national security at risk. Where necessary we also cooperate with, for example, the police. This way, we create a safe Netherlands for all.

Who monitors the work of the IND?
The decisions taken by the IND greatly affect people's lives. We are highly aware of this. All applicants must be able to trust that our decisions are of outstanding quality. This work can also be assessed by the court. If someone does not agree with a decision by the IND, they may lodge an appeal and subsequently appeal to a higher court. This way we assure the quality of our decisions, and do justice to the position of foreign nationals in the Netherlands.