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In 2021, the IND received over 194,000 applications. Made by people who want to work, study, live with their families, apply for asylum in the Netherlands, or wish to become Dutch citizens through naturalisation. Consequently, the IND was as busy and, at times, even busier last year than the years before the corona crisis. A crisis characterised by many travel restrictions, especially in 2020.
The IND received much more naturalisation requests. In 2021, the number of people wanting to become Dutch citizens rose to 59,680, relative to 43,660 in 2020 and 44,400 in 2019. The number of asylum applications also rose above expectations. A total of 40,480 applications were made, i.e. a sharp increase from the two previous years (2020: 24,570 and 2019: 31,380).
Most applications regular
In 2021, more than 70 per cent of the residence applications at the IND were made by persons wanting to come to the Netherlands to study, work or, for example, live with their relatives or family (94,220 applications). In the past year, the IND received 20,560 applications for Study, 22,840 for Knowledge & Talent, and 42,690 for Relatives & Family. Consequently, the number of applications was again at the level of 2019.
Last year, 4,730 applications were also received, allowing Britons to arrange their residency in the Netherlands after Brexit, bringing the total number of applications (since 2020) for this group to 39,520. The IND offers British citizens until 1 October 2022 the possibility to still apply for their residence document. Thus, British citizens can obtain lawful residence, even though the official application period has expired.
Asylum rises more than expected
The IND received 40,480 applications for asylum in 2021. These are first applications, subsequent applications and applications in connection with family reunification. This number represents about 30 per cent of the total number of applications for a residency permit at the IND and a substantial increase compared to the two previous years. The applicants also include the more than 2,200 Afghan evacuees who went through an accelerated asylum procedure here.
Since the influx is higher than expected, IND's asylum process is under pressure. The IND faces a significant challenge in this respect. Several measures have been made to continue to make timely and careful decisions.
It is interesting to note that the number of applications connected to family reunification went up to 13,980. Such applications totalled 9,380 (2020) and 6,130 (2019) in previous years. The influx of family reunification last year was 10,120. There may be several reasons for this increase in both the number of applications and influx of family reunification. Due to corona, for example, more journeys were made in 2021 versus 2020. In the past two years, the IND also processed more applications for asylum on which the IND could decide favourably. Following the decision to grant the applications, the asylees could bring their family members to the Netherlands, which may explain the increase in numbers.
A multiannual peak in naturalisation
For some years now, the number of applications from people who want to become Dutch citizens has been high. The increase directly consequences the high influx in previous years, particularly the high influx of asylum seekers in 2015 and 2016. These people can apply for naturalisation after several years of lawful residence in the Netherlands.
The IND also received applications from RANOV-residence permit holders in the past year. For the latter, there has been relaxation to become Dutch citizens since the end of last year.
The IND can deal with this peak in applications as it has made significant investments during the past period to decide on the applications for naturalisation in a timely and careful manner. The application procedure has been optimised and digitised. A great deal of attention has been paid to reinforcement and supervision of the staff and improved management.
In 2021, there was a decrease in the number of proceedings concerning decisions made by the IND: 33.880 compared to 41,150 (2020) and 54,940 (2019). Here, too, the effects of the coronavirus were a factor. On the one hand, there were fewer applications for asylum and regular residence in 2020. Due to corona, the courts also dealt with fewer cases last year, as a result of which our lawyers were not compelled to handle as many appeals. In addition, the fact that asylum applications were granted more often in the past two years also plays a role.
The full annual report, including figures on services, finance and personnel, will be published later this year.