Overview Of The Dutch Asylum And Immigration System

Dutch methods of regulating migration

About the author

Dr Jeroen Doomernik is researcher and programme manager at the Institute for Migration and Ethnic Studies (IMES) and lecturer in political science at the University of Amsterdam. He holds an MA in social anthropology and a PhD in human geography.


1. In contrast to the United Kingdom, Dutch migration control mechanisms are not limited to the nation’s borders. Instead, the country has a long history of administrative measures by which to regulate entry and residence of foreign nationals. Indeed, with progressive integration into the European Union the significance of borders and their controls has decreased to the extent that it is now Schengen partners who control their territory’s borders on behalf of the Dutch government. What is left in terms of old-fashioned border control is now concentrated in the seaports (notably Rotterdam and the national airport (Amsterdam Schiphol) which are gates of entry to Dutch territory and, of course, the Schengen area at large. Administrative controls within the Dutch state meanwhile have been intensified………..

43. The Netherlands has clearly lost some attraction to newcomers as we can read from the migration statistics, which currently show a negative net migration rate. It is difficult to assess this. Anecdotal evidence suggests that it is the better skilled who leave the country and the poorer skilled who still seek to settle in the Netherlands. Whether this is related to migration rules, hostility towards migration in general and Muslims in particular, the economic cycle, or rising cost of living, we do not know.

44. Lastly, what has become evident from this short excursion through Dutch restrictive migration measures is that removal is the hardest element of control. Migrants who end up working in the country, and even more so those who have sought asylum, are difficult to expel if they fail to cooperate. Detention, a costly instrument, has some effect but a majority of detainees sooner or later return to the streets.

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16th April 2008 - Asylum, Employment, European Union, Legal Matters

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