Overview > Netherlands

Last update: January 2013

People can apply for asylum in the Netherlands. However, like everywhere in Europe, it is increasingly difficult to be granted asylum. Especially when you can't present identity documents, travel documents or evidence that support the reasons why you left your country. Whether or not you have more chance on asylum in the Netherlands or in another EU-country, is hard to say. EU- and national asylum law is increasingly harmonized, but in practice there are differences. Sometimes it may depend on where you come from or for which reasons you fled your country. It is important to note that national immigration law changes very quickly. There are as well possibilities to apply for a residence permit on other grounds than asylum, for instance family (re)unification, medical grounds, work or study, or other, but all under strict conditions.

The Netherlands is well known for its long-term detention of migrants. Moreover, people who do not get a residence permit, but also cannot be deported to their country of origin, do not get legalized, nor shelter and money to buy food. As an undocumented person in the Netherlands you do have the right on basic health care. An increasing number of migrants are on the street. It has resulted in large demonstrations of refugees staying in tents next to the center in Ter Apel, in Amsterdam and the Hague and in other places. Others try to survive illegally in the Netherlands, for instance with black jobs and informal rented rooms or by support of family, friends, churches or migrant support organizations.

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