Unaccompanied minors

It often happens that children travel to the Netherlands on their own, without their parents. More often than not, these so-called unaccompanied minors (in Dutch: alleenstaande minderjarige vreemdelingen, or AMVs) come to Europe with the help of human traffickers. Unaccompanied minors who arrive in the Netherlands can apply to the IND for a residence permit. Our employees treat (young) children with great care, since their interests must come first.

Residency applications for unaccompanied minors

Society pays a great deal of attention to the position of children in the policy on foreign nationals. These children form a vulnerable group always deserving careful consideration. The IND puts this awareness first when assessing applications for a residence permit from unaccompanied minors. Our employees consider the International Convention on the Rights of the Child and Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, among other factors. It follows from this that the child's best interests must always be explicitly taken into account in deciding on an application for a regular of asylum residence permit for an unaccompanied minor.

Investigation, application and assistance for minors

In general, the assessment of the request for asylum made by an unaccompanied minor does not differ from that for an adult. The IND does take the child’s age and individual situation into account during the application process. Unaccompanied minors who do not have documents are offered a medical age assessment if it is doubtful whether they are actually minors. The results are leading for the rest of the application.

In the Netherlands, all unaccompanied minors are assigned a guardian by Stichting Nidos and a lawyer to represent their interests. Minors are assisted and accommodated at a special COA reception centre for young asylum seekers, in a foster family, or a so-called protected reception facility.

Child-friendly interview rooms for stories of flight

In the asylum process, it can be very challenging to tell about your journey to the Netherlands or why you fled, even more so for children. Our employees are aware of this. That is why we interview children between 6 and 12 years of age in a special child-friendly interview room at our office in Den Bosch. The IND has a specialised team for these interviews.

The child-friendly interview room is designed to help children tell the account of their flight piece by  piece. The interviewers try to connect with the child’s experiential and conceptual world as much as possible. For this purposre they use specially adapted questions during the interview and take extra breaks if necessary.

Someone may be present during the interview to support the minor. In practice, this is usually the guardian, an employee of Nidos, the Dutch Council for Refugees, or, in a few cases, a lawyer.

Family reunification

Whatever the outcome of a residence permit application from  a minor, the importance of reunification with family members is high on the agenda. If the IND decides that the child may stay in the Netherlands, they can, in principle, have their parents come over to the Netherlands in due course.

There may be Dublin indications, with the child initially having been registered in another EU country. In that case, too, the IND will take the minor
s interests into account. The IND staff member will then make inquiries into whether the minor has any family members in the Dublin country in question with whom they may be reunited. In the Dublin procedure, the IND staff member also takes the minors well-being and social development into account.

Rejection of a minors application?

If the minor’s application for asylum is rejected, the Repatriation and Departure Service (in Dutch: Dienst Terugkeer en Vertrek, or DT&V) tries to arrange the departure from the Netherlands. Until then, the minor remains entitled to reception.

Reception of unaccompanied minors

Sometimes, following the rejection of an asylum application, it is impossible to find adequate reception for a minor in the country of origin or another country. In such cases, the minor may qualify for a regular residence permit. The same applies if departure from the Netherlands is unsuccessful, in spite of active efforts made by the minor. The unaccompanied minor must still be underage and unaccompanied, and at the time of the first asylum application must have been under 15.

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