Monday, 22 March 2010

The Netherlands & Immigration

After the European Court ruled that the Dutch Immigration policies are not in line with the EU Constitution, the Dutch government recently lowered the requirements. While I do support it (after all, the law is the law and Holland has to comply as a member of the EU), a part of me wishes the requirements were higher.

The Dutch partner bears most of the burden during the application process. Prior to the recent change, the Dutch partner would need:

i) to earn a minimum of around €1550 nett (this is around €2100 gross) per month. This is 120% of the minimum wage and while it is not a lot of money, this pretty much excludes anyone without a degree, fresh graduates, teachers, nurses and so on.

ii) a minimum one year working contract on the date of application. This is a bigger problem. Permanent contracts are harder to get here, due to the strict Dutch employment laws which make it very difficult for a permanent employee to get fired. Also, this excludes freelancers, businessmen and so forth (even if they make €30 000 a month). That said, anyone who can prove they have earned the €1550 every single month for the last 3 years can still apply for the visa.

iii) and a few other minor documents, declarations (must guarantee to support partner and is liable for damages caused by partner up to a maximum of X). The 2 requirements above are the major hurdles for some couples.

Dutchman and I were lucky that he got a job with the necessary salary and a permanent contract, straight out of college. Our application was approved in 4 weeks (which was a major surprise for us as 4 weeks back then was considered very, very short).

Now that the rules have changed, I have mixed feelings about the whole thing. Yes, I believe families have a right to be together. Yes, it is sad when a parent is separated from the kids, just because he/she does not fulfill the requirements. A very selfish part of me liked the requirements because I hate being lumped together with all the other uneducated immigrants (because I get so annoyed when Dutch people patronize me with this , that it is so easy to get a foreign partner here and that all these foreign partners go on welfare etc.). Also, I believe that the minimum wage (around €1400 before taxes) is just not enough to support a family. Even €1550 nett is not a lot. That said, there are families (fully Dutch, foreign or partly Dutch) surviving on that.

Yes, this entire post does not make sense. I did say I have mixed feelings!


Esmee said...

Some time back I saw couples in "Hello, Goodbye" whereby the foreign partner had to leave NL bec the immigration rejected their application. Some of them have young children n it was gut-wrenching to see their tearful separation. On hindsight, the couple should hv waited until it was approved b4 they start a family.

I also cant stand being patronized, esp by folks who r non-achievers themselves. They just assumed that asians r only good for the low ranking jobs. I still hv encounters with newbies to the company whereby they ignored me, thinking I was the tea girl ! When they realised their job lies in the palm of my hand ....

I think the tightening of immigration rules have a positive effect. However, our system has been strained by the influx of illerate immigrants who hv the misconception that any job here is better than nothing back home. Most of them will end up as dependents on welfare when they realized that labour intensive jobs r taken over by automations !

I would welcome immigrants with the intention to contribute to our country n help built it up. What better way to keep their self respect as well, right ?

Seri Nyonya said...

Haha I also have a Filipina friend who's often mistaken for the cleaner (she's a manager). Double standards also exist at school (teachers are fine, it's usually the students...) but I think this is slowly changing. In some ways, the Asian students perpetuate this: some Chinese students plagiarize and a student in my class actually hired another student to take an Accounting exam in his stead. He was expelled. Anyway, it is sometimes hard to prove myself (because I look Chinese) sometimes. Once I was in this project (random draw with people from different classes) and the Project Leader introduced me as his Marketing Manager (positions were assigned based on what we wanted) to his friends and I saw them exchanging looks ("kesian, you have a Chinese Marketing Manager muahaha, looks like the Project Manager will have to do the whole plan by himself"). Phew luckily, I got the best Marketing Plan out of 40 groups so I felt good about it!

Yes, I do think the requirements were fair (except perhaps the permanent contract thing since there are many freelancers, businessmen and so forth who earn good money). Also, if a couple can't fulfill the requirements, they can opt for the EU-route so to me, it's not like they CAN'T be together. They can, if they are willing to make certain sacrifices.

The requirements were abolished just 2 weeks ago as it is not in line with the EU constitution so now it's back to minimum wage and regular employment. I guess I will have to be lumped together with the uneducated immigrants, whether I want it or not:( (I'm not saying I'm extremely educated but at least I can read and write!).

Anonymous said...

So I was wondering.. if u weren't telling the natives that u have a foreign spouse, haven't been in NL for that long etc, could they have easily mistaken u as one of those second or third generation Asians living there? Or as long as one looks Asian, he/she is being patronized?

Seri Nyonya said...

Well, I'm not fluent in Dutch so they can tell pretty quickly;)

While The Netherlands is a multi-cultural country, I don't think Asians are the biggest minority group. IMHO, Asians are not particularly integrated themselves. Asians tend to keep amongst themselves and do not cause trouble (in general)as opposed to Moroccans, Antilleans and so forth. Thus the native Dutch just pretty much leave them alone. Racism is not really in-your-face; instead it's more of.. cultural superiority?