For a long time, around 11,000 people with a RANOV permit were unable to become Dutch citizens. They did not meet certain requirements. In 2021, exemptions were introduced. This allows a portion of the group to request Dutch citizenship (again).

As a result of the exemptions, people with a RANOV permit are no longer required to possess a valid foreign passport (or other proof of identity). They are also no longer required to submit a birth certificate or proof of birth registration and no longer need to renounce their original nationality.

RANOV regulation background

On 15 June 2007, the Regulation on Settlement of the Legacy of the Old Aliens Act (RANOV regulation) came into force. This regulation, also called the pardon scheme, was meant for foreign nationals who had applied for asylum under the old Aliens Act (before 1 April 2001). The requirement was that they had been in the Netherlands since 1 April 2001. To obtain a residence permit based on the RANOV regulation, the ongoing (asylum) procedure had to be withdrawn. Based on the pardon scheme, around 28,000 foreign nationals eventually got a regular residence permit. 

Developments and exemptions

Five years later, these people could apply for Dutch citizenship. This had to be done under the applicable requirements, including the document requirement to demonstrate identity and nationality. Many RANOV permit holders do not have these documents. As a result, they could not become Dutch citizens for many years. Nor could their children.

In response to this situation, former Minister Broekers-Knol (Migration) wrote a
letter to the House of Representatives. It said that minor RANOV permit holders are exempted from the document requirement and the requirement to renounce their original nationality in the option and naturalisation process from 1 June 2021. In a letter to the House of Representatives of July 2021, the minister announced that this applies to all RANOV permit holders from November 2021, so also the permit holders who were adults when the RANOV permit was granted (more than 8000).

Role of the IND

Parliament establishes laws and regulations.  By means of these, the IND determines who is allowed to stay in the Netherlands and who is eligible for becoming a Dutch citizen through naturalisation. Local council staff assess applications for becoming a Dutch citizen through option. Applying for naturalisation or option always starts at the town hall.

A number of requirements for Dutch citizenship

It  is important to know that the IND and local council still assess whether the people involved are eligible for Dutch citizenship. So, this also applies to RANOV permit holders. The document requirements and renouncement have been dropped, but the applicants must still meet all other requirements to become a Dutch citizen. For instance, someone must have lived in the Netherlands with a valid residence permit for five continuous years or longer, and pose no threat to public order or national security. Another example is the requirement to pass the civic integration exam, which also applies to RANOV permit holders. An application may also be rejected if there are considerable doubts about someone’s identity or nationality.

After a rejection

RANOV permit holders who are rejected by the local council (option) can object to the decision. If the IND rejects an application (naturalisation), it is possible to object to us. In practice, nothing changes for permit holders after a rejection. The right of residence in the Netherlands continues to apply as usual.