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IND has reached limits of feasibility

Last update: 23 May 2023

There is not only a lack capacity within the IND to process the high number of asylum applications within the legal period, but also an increase in applications from highly skilled and labour migrants, and international students. Furthermore, the service has to support decisions in increasingly more detail, which requires extra time and care. In the second Performance Update (only available in Dutch) [link], the IND describes the many bottlenecks it faces when carrying out its social task. Changing this requires a fundamentally different perspective on migration policy.

IND general director Rhodia Maas points out that the IND is putting in an incredible amount of work. ‘For quite a while, we have been receiving a lot more applications than we are equipped for. Until now, we have been able to decide on more applications than we promised in advance. Despite this, it takes longer until applicants get clarity about their future in the Netherlands. This long period of uncertainty is horrible. I think it’s extremely important that applicants notice the IND has not forgotten them.’

According to Maas, solving this requires fundamentally different choices in migration policy. ‘Now, we agree annually with the Ministry of Justice and Security how many applications we have to process. But a year is much too short to equip a stable organisation. For a solid basis, we must be able to look at least 5 years into the future. And only working towards growth is not a sustainable solution. Because how big do we need to get? Implementing improvements in the current process will help, but not enough. We must accept that the IND is unable to adapt to the fluctuating number of applications.’

Bottlenecks and what the IND needs

In addition to the increase and unpredictability of the number of applications for residency and naturalisation, the IND outlines other bottlenecks, challenges and dilemmas for its activities in the second Performance Update

In the Performance Update, the IND shows that:
o    there is a high number of applications that is still increasing and unpredictable; 
o    policy is becoming increasingly complicated;
o    legislation has unintended side effects on activities; 
o    the number of penalty cases is increasing; 
o    there is too much unnecessary contact with applicants;
o    information provision is outdated;
o    IND lawyers are increasingly more accessible for courts of law. 
A selection of the bottlenecks is explained below.

Supporting rejections is more difficult

The capacity of the IND is also under pressure because implementing policy is becoming more difficult. In particular, supporting rejections is subjected to increasingly demanding requirements by courts of law. Political choices and decisions in Europe also have an influence. The IND responds to this by paying extra attention to practical examples and dilemmas in complex cases, and by also paying attention to this in training programmes. In addition, it is assessed which decisions meet the quality requirements. 

To gain better insight into why assessing applications has become more difficult and what has caused this, the IND is investigating how the IND has assessed asylum applications in the past 12 years. This information will allow the service to take its own actions and better indicate what it needs from others. 

Asylum reunification after asylum reunification: unintended effect

An example that shows how legislation can have an unintended side effect on the asylum reunification process. Members of the core family (father, mother and children) of someone with an asylum residence permit can come to the Netherlands. Sometimes this also includes adult children, who can then apply for asylum independently and have their own family come over. The asylum reunification process is not meant for this.

Penalties are increasing

It takes time to support decisions and the number of applications is increasing. The effect of this combination has been that the IND is not always able to provide clarity within the legally established period. An applicant can appeal against this and request a penalty to encourage the IND to decide quickly. 

Penalties do not contribute to faster decisions. There is no lack of willpower at the IND, but there is not enough capacity to process the increasing number of applications within the legal period. Besides, processing default notices and appeals against late decisions requires time form staff who cannot be deployed to process new applications for residency. 

Contact with applicants when needed

The increasing and varying number of applications influences the services of the IND, at the hotline and desk, among other places. There is still too much contact that is required under legislation, but that is superfluous for both the IND and the applicant. Or that can be taken over by other organisations which are often (literally) closer to the applicant. 

Within the Ministry of Justice and Security, the IND is looking for solutions together with other organisations. For example documents that can remain valid for longer so that fewer extensions are needed. 

Conversation about bottlenecks

The conclusion of this second Performance Update is that the IND has reached its limits. Not only because of the high number of applications, but also because legislation is becoming increasingly complex, and with it, its implementation as a result. What the IND urgently needs is a new perspective on how the migration policy can become manageable and remain implementable.

Triannual statistics 

The IND has been publishing its annual statistics for a longer period. From now on, we will publish these statistics triannually. View the statistics for the first tertile of 2023 (January to April inclusive).