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The Immigration and Naturalisation Service (IND) has taken measures to shorten the waiting time for persons journeying in connection with family reunification. The reunification of family members separated from one another while fleeing is very important. To prevent persons travelling in connection with family reunification from having to wait a long time, for example, more account is taken of the administrative practice in the country of origin, less high requirements are set on the evidence needed to make a biological family relationship plausible and certain additional investigations in current applications have been limited. At present, the IND decides on a third of the applications outside the statutory time limit of six months.
Many of the applications for family reunification are not complete. Documents from the authorities of the country of origin are needed to process an application. The more complete the application, the quicker the processing. For example, with official and unofficial documents, the identity or family relationship can be demonstrated. From the end of April, the IND will check more than before whether the requested documents are or could or should have been in the possession of the applicants. This will include the administrative practice in the countries of origin and the personal circumstances of the applicants.
Demonstrated family relationship
Less high requirements will be set on proof of identity if the biological family relationship can be made plausible. This means that an identifying interview will be necessary less often.
Another change in family reunification policy will deal with applications for family reunification by minor children with an asylum residence permit for which applications the statutory decision period has been exceeded. Their situation will henceforth be assessed according to what it was at the time of the application. This change will be introduced as a result of a ruling by the Council of State.
Benefit of the doubt
Based on all documents submitted and statements made, the IND will consider more expressly whether the applicant can be allowed the benefit of the doubt. For example, this can lead to an offer for a more detailed investigation or a positive decision on the application. If minor (biological) children are involved, then the IND can respond to the children's needs more often with a more detailed investigation (DNA test or interview) of the family relationship instead of rejecting the application if there is an insufficient burden of proof.
Temporary measures to catch up with the backlog
Besides the adjustments to the family reunification policy, additional temporary measures have been taken to shorten the waiting time. With respect to current applications, the IND limits certain investigations. This should enable quicker decisions on about 9000 applications. An example is no longer administering a DNA test if the biological family relationship has been made plausible. It is also possible in certain cases to limit the additional investigation to a screening for public order and national security. The risk of these measures is negligible, because there are sufficient guarantees in the standard assessment of an application, and the measures mainly apply to nationalities for which the percentage of applications granted is high.
More applications than before
The number of applications for family reunification is increasing, because we receive more asylum applications and grant them proportionately more often. In the past few months, the IND has received 250 applications a week on average. As a result of lifting the corona measures, the applications that could not be submitted in the past two years are finally being received. Travel restrictions made it hardly possible for persons travelling in connection with family reunification to pick up the entry visa required to enter the Netherlands (provisional residence permit, MVV in Dutch) at a Dutch embassy abroad.
Notwithstanding the success in deciding on more applications than planned, persons travelling in connection with family reunification have to wait longer. The IND is making every effort to process their applications as quickly as possible. The measures that have been taken are shortening the waiting time.
This means that applications for family reunification by minor children with an asylum permit for which applications the statutory decision period has been exceeded will only be assessed according to the situation as it was at the time the application for family reunification was submitted.