Anyone who is not safe in their own country can obtain protection in the Netherlands (asylum). Asylum seekers who have a right to this can build a future in the Netherlands. Sometimes, reunification with family members who have stayed behind is part…
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. AMVs 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 are of paramount importance.
Society devotes a great deal of attention to the position of children in the policy on foreign nationals. These children form a vulnerable group that deserves a careful assessment under all circumstances. The IND puts this awareness first when assessing applications for a residence permit from AMVs. 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 interests must always be explicitly involved in a decision on an application for a residence permit by an AMV, whether it concerns a request for asylum or a regular application.
Investigation, procedure and assistance of minors
In general, the assessment of the request for asylum made by a AMV does not differ from that made by an adult. The IND does take the child’s age and individual situation into account in the procedure. AMVs lacking documents are offered a medical age assessment procedure if it is doubtful whether they are actually minors. The results are leading for further proceedings.
In the Netherlands, all AMVs are assigned a guardian by the Stichting Nidos and a lawyer to represent their interests. The AMV is assisted and accommodated at a special reception centre of the COA for young asylum seekers, in a foster family, or a so-called protected reception facility.
Child-friendly interview rooms for fleeing stories
In the asylum procedure, 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 bit by bit. The interviewers try to join in with the child’s experiential and conceptual world as much as possible. To this end, they use specially adapted questions during the interview and take extra breaks if necessary.
Someone may be present during the interview to support the AMV. In practice, this is usually the guardian, an employee of Nidos, the Dutch Council for Refugees, or the lawyer in a few cases.
Whatever the outcome of the application for a residence permit from the AMV, 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 AMV's interests into account. The IND staff member will then make inquiries into whether the AMV 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 AMV's well-being and social development into account.
Rejection of a AMV’s application?
If the AMV's application for asylum is rejected, the Repatriation and Departure Service (in Dutch: Dienst Terugkeer en Vertrek, or DT&V) tries to effect the departure from the Netherlands. Until then, the AMV remains entitled to reception.
Reception of AMVs
Sometimes, following the rejection of the asylum application, it is impossible to find adequate reception in the country of origin or another country. In such cases, the AMV may qualify for a regular residence permit. The same applies if departure from the Netherlands is unsuccessful, notwithstanding active efforts made by the AMV to this end. Conditions are that the unaccompanied minor is still underage and unaccompanied, and was younger than 15 at the first asylum application.
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