New requirements came into force this week for some non-Dutch people who wish to live in The Netherlands.
The big news is a new immigration test where would-be immigrants have to take a compulsory exam on what they know about The Netherlands before they get a permit to come here:
Is it wet or dry in the Netherlands? One of the hundred questions in the exam for migrants from outside the European Union who want to settle in the Netherlands. From now on the exam is obligatory. Newcomers have to report to the Netherlands embassy in their home country where they take the test using voice recognition computer software. If you fail, you don’t get a temporary residence permit.
A question about the climate is probably the tamest one in the whole exam, the preparation for which includes watching a movie about Dutch society and culture. As the International Herald Tribune reports:
This is not exactly a run-of-the-mill homework assignment: Watch a film clip of an attractive woman sunbathing topless and try not to be shocked. "People do not make a fuss about nudity," the narrator explains. That lesson, about the Netherlands’s nude beaches, is followed by another: Homosexuals have the same rights here as heterosexuals do, including the chance to marry. Just to make sure everyone gets the message, two men are shown kissing in a meadow.
The film is on a DVD or videotape and is part of a preparatory package you have to buy at a cost of â‚¬65. And you have to pay to take the exam at a cost of â‚¬350. If you fail, it’s another â‚¬350 to take the exam again.
The exclusion list (ie, countries where citizens there don’t have to take the exam) is a lengthy one – not only EU states but also other Western countries like the USA, Canada and Australia plus ex-Dutch colonies like Surinam as well as people coming here temporarily (eg, to study or have medical treatment).
Some critics accuse the Dutch government of putting in place a system primarily designed to restrict immigration by unfairly targeting Muslims (which the government flatly denies). In any event, it’s a pretty controversial screening process, the first of its type in the world.