Dutch introduce controversial immigration test

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 €65. And you have to pay to take the exam at a cost of €350. If you fail, it’s another €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.

Detailed information at the Dutch government’s Immigration and Naturalization Service.

Neville Hobson

Social Strategist, Communicator, Writer, and Podcaster with a curiosity for tech and how people use it. Believer in an Internet for everyone. Early adopter (and leaver) and experimenter with social media. Occasional test pilot of shiny new objects. Avid tea drinker.

  1. coder.keitaro

    This is hilarious.

    I must get a copy of that DVD.

    Plus, considering the ‘christian’ attitudes of some Americans I find it strange they are excluded from this requirement.

    Whenever a member of the US congress is here they are always decrying how decriminalisation of drugs and prostitution is really bad.

    Even though the crime rate in the Netherlands is insignificant compared to the US.

  2. neville

    No doubt the movie will be up on YouTube before long, coder. At least the ‘naughty bits.’

    Hilarious? I’m sure anyone who has to cough up the €350 and take the exam won’t find it so.

    I actually don’t find the concept of such a test strange (or hilarious). If you’re going to move to another country and live there, it makes sense to at least have a clue about the place you’re going to. Now you’re going to be tested.

    While not on the scale of what the Dutch are now doing, other countries have some form of testing. The US does, for instance, if you want to move there. And in Europe, the UK and Germany are planning things.

    Sign of the times.

  3. Dennnis Howlett

    I am 100% with you on this Nevile. Isn’t it reasonable to expect someone who is going to another country to at least have a passing knowledge of the coutnry concerned?

    It amazes me the number of ex-pat Brits who pitch up at Alicante airport and park their brains in the parking lot. It might account for the 52% who are reported to return to their country of origin within a year of arriving in Spain.

    When we moved to France, we planned it for 18 months before making the final move. and when we got there made it our business ot learn the language. Which is a good reason for not coming to the Netherlands (IMO). :)

  4. neville

    Language can be an issue, Dennis. I’ve lived here in Amsterdam for 6 years and I still speak little Dutch (een beetje, as I usually say). The trouble is for me, everyone insists on speaking to me in English. Makes practicing tricky!

    I do speak Spanish fluently, though (so maybe I ought to head to your neck of the woods instead…).

    As for expat Brits (such as you and I and, I think, coder), we’re historically among the worst at embracing ‘foreign languages’ although I think the Americans might have grabbed that crown now.

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