In the past twelve years it has become more complex for staff members of the Immigration and Naturalisation Service (IND) to…
In 2023 the Immigration and Naturalisation Service (IND) again processed more applications for residency in the Netherlands and Dutch citizenship than in the year before. And more than those for which the organisation was equipped. The total number of applications increased even more, because of which applicants often had to wait a long time.
The pressure rose noticeably on other levels as well. For instance almost twice as many legal proceedings for residence were conducted than in 2022. And the number of appointments at the desks also increased. In the general and extended asylum process the percentage of applications granted decreased from 78% in 2022 to 62% in 2023.
This can be seen in the annual figures of the IND for 2023 (only available in Dutch).
More asylum applications processed
The IND took additional measures last year to enable it to take more decisions. In 2023, the Service processed almost 35 thousand asylum applications in total. These were about 8.5 thousand more decisions than initially planned.
Because the number of applications has been much higher for a longer time than that for which the IND is equipped, at the end of 2023 almost 50 thousand asylum applicants were waiting for a decision from the IND.
“We make improvements where possible”, says Rhodia Maas, Director-General of the IND. “For example by working more efficiently when there are more schedulable applications, such as for family reunification and naturalisation. We process applications more quickly that have a good chance of success on the basis of the country policy, such those by Syrians, just as those of applicants who do not actually have much of a chance of success. Moreover, last year the IND grew to more than 6 thousand staff members.”
More legal proceedings and incremental penalty payments
In 2023 the IND paid 11.3 million euros in incremental penalties for notices of default and appeals not decided in time. The IND received over 28 thousand notices of default (28,670) in 2023 versus over 19 thousand in the year before (19,830). In December the State Secretary of Justice and Security announced that the statutory decision period for asylum applications would be extended again by 9 months in 2024, from 6 months to 15 months. Applicants constantly have to wait longer than the extended statutory period, owing to which the number of notices of default and incremental penalty payments is expected to rise further next year.
More naturalisation and desk appointments
During most of all other activities, such as naturalisation, the IND processed more applications than in the year before. This also holds for the services provided to applicants. The number of appointments at desks as well as the number of residence permits issued was larger than in the year before.
In 2023 fewer applications for knowledge migration (25,880) and family migration (regular, 41,820) were submitted than in 2022 (respectively 33,030 and 45,300).
Waiting for objections
In objection cases (regular) applicants had to wait a long time. One fourth of these cases could be heard within the statutory period. At the end of 2023, 22 thousand regular objection cases were still awaiting a decision. The IND has meanwhile started to catch up on the backlogs.
Deciding carefully and quickly
“The IND aims to decide carefully and in time on who may reside in the Netherlands and who may not” says Rhodia Maas, Director-General of the IND. “We have succeeded very well in taking careful decisions and the courts have upheld considerably more than 80% of our decisions. That percentage even rose last year. The challenge is to process an increasingly large number of applications still carefully as well as more quickly.”
Maas explains that it is not only about speed. “It also helps applicants if they have more clarity. That is why we want to give them better insight into the status of their proceedings. That is one of the spearheads for 2024.”