The impact of corona is reflected in the number of applications submitted to the Immigration and Naturalisation Service (IND) in 2020. This is evident from the Annual Report of the IND that has been published today. The number of application decreased across the board, except for the number of applications for naturalisation. The sharpest decreased can be seen in residence permit applications on the basis of education (12,310 in 2020 as against 20,430 in 2019) or as a highly-skilled migrant (13,710 in 2020 as against 20,970 in 2019).
The number of new asylum applications also fell sharply under the influence of corona. In 2020, 13,670 applications were submitted, whereas there were still 22,530 in 2019. At the same time, the IND made substantial efforts last year to clear the backlog of old asylum applications on the one hand and keep up with the new influx on the other. In spite of great efforts, it did not succeed in disposing of the complete backlog in 2020, and therefore every effort is now focused on reaching that target in mid-2021.
Because no flight traffic was possible for a long time because of corona, and countries were faced with different corona measures, fewer people also submitted applications for family and relative-related residence purposes. Last year 32,730 applications were submitted as against 40,830 in the year before. Immediately after the corona measures were announced in March, it was only possible to travel in exceptional cases, but in July an arrangement was made for long-distance relatives. This meant an exception arrangement for loved ones at a distance. Moreover, because of the limited flight traffic, the situation occurred several times that international travellers were stranded at Schiphol: they were unable to continue their journey after their interim landing because it was cancelled. These were situations in which temporary visas were issued and there was close cooperation with embassies.
The number of naturalisation applications has been high for years, but in 2020 almost twice as many naturalisation applications were handled as in the year before: 50,870 this year and 27,090 in 2019. The rise can be ascribed to the attraction of additional staff and digitisation. Notwithstanding corona, this enabled the IND to catch up substantially.
Moreover, for the IND 2020 was the year of the Brexit. All 45,000 Brits in the Netherlands had to arrange their right of residence before and after Brexit in 2020. This was a large logistic operation, but by inviting all Brits in parts to submit an application for a residence permit, the IND was able to guarantee a smooth flow of applications. This was done by seeking close cooperation with the British authorities and with representatives of the British community in the Netherlands. The vast majority of all Brits residing in the Netherlands (34,790) submitted applications. Furthermore, all applications were processed in time, an achievement that made the Netherlands the leader in Europe.
Corona or not, the provision of services by the IND to clients was maintained in 2020. In order to generate as few travel movements as possible, some of the desk processes ran differently. For instance third-country nationals no longer had to appear at the desk in order to extent their visas, but this was done by telephone. The issue of residence documents at the desk was also stopped for some groups of third-country nationals. Instead of that, about 38,000 residence documents were delivered to the home address by a courier.
> Annual Report online magazine only in Dutch