The special task force that must eliminate with the Immigration and Naturalisation Service (IND) the backlog of 15,350 asylum applications will continue after the end of this year. More time is needed. This is due to several setbacks, including the measures against corona, some start-up problems, and the fact that the handling cannot be speeded up any further. The latter being partly for reasons of necessary due diligence. So far State Secretary Broekers-Knol in a letter to the House of Representatives last Wednesday.
Despite the setbacks mentioned, some 6,500 cases of the backlog have now been dealt with. It is expected that around 1,500 different cases will be added before the turn of the year, resulting in approximately 8,000 cases having been dealt with by the end of the year. This means that an equally large number of asylum seekers, who often had to wait a long time, have had their applications clarified in the recent months. They can now focus on integration or return.
The remaining cases will have to be attended to next year. Some of these (approximately 2,500) are so complex that they require the expertise of highly experienced IND staff members. Examples include converts or LHBTI applications. For the time being, the Task Force's estimate is to be ready by mid-2021, provided that corona does not further affect the processes.
According to Broekers-Knol, this is particularly painful for the group of asylum seekers still waiting. The undiminished commitment of the Task Force, therefore, aims at providing those asylum seekers who have been waiting for a long time with clarity about their applications without delay. This group of waiting persons will be informed by letter of the state about the current situation of the Task Force and the processing of their application.
Despite the fact that the Task Force has not yet been able to deal with all cases, the State Secretary sees added value in the working method. Without the Task Force, the IND would have had to deal with large backlogs for an unforeseen period of time, which would also have lead to new cases not being decided within the deadline. The work processes have also been improved, enabling central planning, interviews in writing, and outsourcing of parts of the work. Broekers-Knol has the working method evaluated, which will allow the IND to structurally improve work processes in the long term.
In some cases, it was also prevented that a penalty would have been imposed on an asylum seeker through the court. This year to date, the IND has paid out EUR 11.5 million and expects an additional amount of EUR 32 million for the years 2020 and 2021. The final score of this cost item is not yet known (penalties will be paid only after the processing of an application), but previously was estimated at a total of around EUR 70 million. In the meantime, the State Secretary has also temporarily amended the law, as a result of which no penalty can be imposed in new cases. A permanent law will be presented to the House of Representatives as soon as possible.